Healthwise
To print: Use your web browser's print feature. Close this window after printing.

Depression During Pregnancy

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

Depression is common during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. If you have symptoms of depression during pregnancy or are depressed and learn you are pregnant, make a treatment plan with your doctor right away.

If you are being treated for depression and are planning a pregnancy, talk to your doctor ahead of time. You may be able to taper off of antidepressant medicine before your pregnancy, to see how you feel during your first trimester. It's best to be medicine-free, especially during the first trimester. But if you are severely depressed, your doctor will probably want you to stay on your medicine.

Don't ever suddenly stop taking an antidepressant. This can cause difficult emotional and physical symptoms and may also affect your fetus. Your doctor can tell you the best way to taper off of your medicine.

Depression treatment choices during pregnancy

If you are not severely depressed, interpersonal counseling or cognitive-behavioral therapy may be all that you need.

If counseling alone isn't enough, or if your symptoms are severe and disabling, talk to your doctor about other possible treatments:

Women who take an SSRI during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. But not treating depression can also cause problems during pregnancy and birth. If you become pregnant, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of taking an SSRI against the risks of not treating depression.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. Talk to your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide.

Additional measures you can take against depression

Whether you use counseling, medicine, light therapy, or a combination, be sure to also get regular exercise, healthy food, fresh air, and time with people who care about you. These are all important parts of preventing and treating depression and having a healthy pregnancy.

For information about depression after childbirth, see the topic Postpartum Depression.


Credits for Depression During Pregnancy

Current as of: June 16, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Patrice Burgess MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Lisa S. Weinstock MD - Psychiatry


Note: The "printer friendly" document will not contain all the information available in the online document. Some information (e.g. cross-references to other topics, definitions or medical illustrations) is only available in the online version.

© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.