I have a history of pretty severe mental illness - bipolar disorder/anxiety issues, multiple near-fatal suicide attempts/hospitalization, etc. I was on two medications considered high-risk in pregnancy - one known to cause severe defects, and the other only causing withdrawal symptoms post-partum with a very rare incident of pulmonary issues (something like 1/1000 births VS 1/3000 births). My OB suggested I stay on medication, my psychiatrist suggested I go off of it. Switching to a "safer" med wasn't an option...I've tried them all and had nasty side effects with many.
I stopped taking it. Halfway through my pregnancy, I started to feel depressed - my BP was very low, I couldn't drive, and was very down. I decided I would go on medication if a) my symptoms got worse or b) didn't improve within a few weeks. They did improve, and I never went on medication. I've now been breastfeeding, off medication, for 4 weeks.
I did have withdrawal symptoms when I stopped taking my meds. I had heart palpitations that were REALLY unpleasant, dizziness, and I think that attributed to my low BP. Those lasted about two weeks.
I can not believe you were on Lexapro as well! Definitely one of the more safer ones my doctor said since he is into all natural remedies he was always pushing to go off drugs. But at least why we got off of them is a great reason and motivation! And I started exercising as well mostly walking my dogs everyday since I truly enjoy that. So it does not sound trite at all!
Originally Posted by sarahmezz
I'm bipolar, so it's not the same thing, but I did go off my medication in my first pregnancy. It seemed to me to be the best thing to do as I was concerned about the baby's heart development. For a while it was fine, I was more anxious and blue than normal, and then I had a massive attack (one of the worst ones I've had, and I've had several bad ones). I had to stay in the hospital for a while to be monitored and put back on lithium. During this pregnancy I've chosen to stay on, and it's working beautifully. I only have to go in a little bit more often to have Baby checked on, but that's okay.
I don't know a lot about other depressive and mental illnesses, so I don't know how severe your panic attacks are and how your medication works, but staying sane and healthy is important, for mother and child, and I need meds to stay that way. If the medication you're on is fine during pregnancy I'd stay on them. If you don't want to, I'd try going off them for a while before getting pregnant to try out how it feels. Having a breakdown with a baby to worry about in your tummy is far from recommendable. For some I'm sure exercise and diet and things like that might work to a certain degree without the drugs, but it depends on how bad your case is. Lots of hugs xox
@scarletsway: I'm currently on Zoloft and Abilify and while my doctor has made clear I should not continue the Abilify while pregnant he seems to think that remaining on my Zoloft may be best for my panic. My panic disorder is fairly severe and it is difficult to eliminate the symptoms even with medication but it can rapidly spiral out of control when I go off. I'm so glad that you are feeling so wonderful that is a great accomplishment!! Also congrats on your ttc! I completely agree with adding in exercise and cutting caffeine, lucky for me I hate coffee :)
@sarahmezz: Congrats on your pregnancy and on being medication free! I'm sorry that your self-esteem is lagging while I'm sure its normal you still deserve to feel beautiful. I personally feel as though I have much more control of my life and am much more myself while I'm on my meds but it is a very difficult balance. I try to exercise at least moderately everyday but I'm attempting to add in yoga at my Mom's suggestion as she is convinced it will help and I'm hopeful.
@leadmythoughts: It's always so wonderful to hear that others are able to leave their medications behind and feel good about it...it gives me hope, especially when the symptoms were severe. I have been through withdrawals many a time and they are horrible the dizziness is always the worst for me.
@scarletsway: I can think of no better reason to get healthy and get off medication than pregnancy! I love walking my dog too, we go on adventures every night and it makes me get out of the house and do something.
@ottilie: I'm so sorry you had to experience a massive attack during your first pregnancy I understand how horrid those can be, my worst panic attacks are completely debilitating and I can't imagine the added fear of knowing that you are not the only one experiencing what is going on with your body. I'm glad that you are able to stay on your medication and have things work more smoothly this time around. Thank you so much for the hugs it means and lot. And on a side-note I absolutely adore your daughters name!
Thank you everyone for the wonderful support it is great to have such wonderful women to talk to about these things!
Well, I just referred back to this thread and its helpful advice because I'm very strongly considering resuming my medication. As I posted earlier, I was on Lexapro for three years until January this year. It's hard to know whether I really *need* to go back on my meds or not. I'm not suicidal or anything, but I've become increasingly depressed over the past few months and I'm worried about continuing in this state of mind for the next twelve months or so of trying to conceive, pregnancy and breastfeeding. I'm also concerned about the possibility of suffering from post-partum depression. I have a doctor's appointment next week so I'll discuss my options then. In the meantime, it's lovely to be a part of a community where others are so empathetic and understanding :)
Hey - I went in to the perinatal specialist yesterday for my baby's 19 week Anatomy Ultrasound, and he specifically addressed the concerns of taking SSRI's during pregnancy so I wanted to chime in again.
First of all, our baby girl's heart is perfect. But because of the slightly increased risk of a heart issue, he wants us to come back in about 6 weeks for another specialist to do an echo on baby girl's heart and really make sure everything is as it should be. I was surprised to hear this but I'm more than happy to do it and put our minds at ease. But when he sat down to talk to us at the end of the visit, he took the time to specifically say, "You need to stay on this medication." He talked about how he knows mom's tend to have a "guilt chip" (his words) and that some mom's will spend their entire pregnancy beating themselves up every time they take a pill - and he said absolutely don't do that. Mom needs to be healthy, mentally and physically, and that creates a much safer environment for baby (even w/the slight possibility of side effects) than a mom not on her meds. I'm not great with numbers but I believe he said the risk of a heart defect in the general population (i.e., baby born to mom not on anti-depressants) is about 1% - when mom is on anti-depressants it goes up to about 2-2.5%. The increase is that small. Also, when you feel good, you take better care of yourself, and therefore your baby, and that is so important. He said the same thing about the pain medication I take - mom being in constant, chronic pain is not healthy for baby either. I swear I could have kissed the man! I've spent so much time questioning and beating myself up, I really needed that from him. I feel like I can breathe quite a bit easier now!
Anyway, just wanted to add that experience as well. Obviously, it's always going to be a personal, individual decision, and you have to do what's right for you. Don't let ANYONE pressure you in any direction because it's your life, your body, and your baby. :-)
I just spoke with my psychiatrist today about medications while ttc and pregnant and he had some interesting information I thought I would share. I'm currently on Zoloft and Abilify and I thought that it was the Abilify I would have to stop but I learned today that of the two it is the less likely to cause side effects. He said that there are category distinctions for medications during pregnancy and that most all psychiatric medications are class c or d. Class c medications are uncertain if safe or not as animal studies have shown adverse effects but there have been no human studies done. Class d is for drugs that are known to be unsafe and that we have direct evidence of harmful effect on growing babies. He said that even though class d meds are known to be harmful there are still many situations where these medications are extremely helpful and necessary during pregnancy. I currently plan to tapper of my Zoloft and attempt to remain solely on my Abilify even though it is a newer drug so it's possible that we just don't know what the effects are yet.
@sarahmezz: if you are having increasingly more trouble with your depression it may be the best thing for you and your future baby to go back on some form of medication, especially because those of us with depression and anxiety issues can be more susceptible to postpartum depression. Also btw sorry I thought you were already pregnant...I know that can be hurtful when your trying I just misread your message. I'm glad we can all help each other during this life altering process :)
@cvdutch31: Thank you for sharing it is so helpful to have more information. The heart issue risk is the main reason my doctor suggests I go off my Zoloft and remain on my Abilify instead but I've been on my Zoloft so long I'm not sure how my panic will respond without it and I may end up needing to reintroduce it later. I'm going to try this plan and see how things go as we continue ttc as I feel it's the best time to test things out. Congrats on the continued health of your little one...sending you and her the best of thoughts!
Personal update: I had a doctor's appointment last night. Unfortunately, my usual doctor was away, but I've seen the replacement doctor before. He advised me very strongly against going back on anti-depressants. He said they all carry risks and I shouldn't take any risks unless absolutely necessary. I'm inclined to agree. I think the risks are too great to justify going back on anti-depressants, but it's hard to know where to draw the line. Pretty much, unless I'm contemplating throwing myself off a building, I'm going to try to soldier on anti-depressant free.