Last month I wrote about how grateful I am to the happy pills that have lifted me out of depression and quelled my anxiety. And how I am more than a little freaked out about what taking an SSRI if I become pregnant will do to my baby or what not taking one will do to my mental health.
Since researchers have mixed feelings about treating maternal depression, I decided to see a psychiatrist who specializes in women’s mental health to see what's up.
She reaffirmed what I’d been thinking: There is no definitive research on the effects of SSRIs on babies. In fact, there’s so little research about the meds expectant moms take in general, that last week the CDC asked scientists to get on it. The best psychiatrists can do is help patients weigh the pros and cons of possible side effects of SSRIs against untreated depression.
In order to have a truly definitive study on this topic, there would have to be something nerds call a random control trial. They would need two groups of women who have a history of depression and are trying to become pregnant. The groups of women would need to have a similar mix of demographics in age and ethnicity. One group would get the SSRIs, the other wouldn’t. Researchers would need to observe them and their offspring for several years. They would also need to take into consideration whether or not the individual women had pre-existing conditions that could mess up the results.
It’s a tall order, and an especially tricky one since doing research on pregnant ladies is generally frowned upon. But until we have facts, women with depression and anxiety are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.