Do Antidepressants Cause Autism?

As such, this study doesn’t provide enough evidence to change medical practice regarding prescribing antidepressants in pregnancy. It gave evidence of a small risk of taking antidepressants. It did not give evidence of the risk of NOT taking antidepressants. We really only know half of the story from this study.

What are Current Recommendations About Taking Antidepressants in Pregnancy? 

The most recent guideline on antenatal and postnatal mental health produced by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is well respected by researchers and clinicians in the perinatal mental health community. It says that women with moderate or severe depression in pregnancy or postpartum be treated with a high-intensity psychological intervention (e.g., cognitive behaviour therapy), or an antidepressant if the woman understands potential risks associated with the medication and: 

  • she has a preference for medication 
  • she declines psychological interventions 
  • or, her symptoms have not responded to psychological interventions. 

One Final Note….

Our research shows that 45% of pregnant women choose not to raise concerns about their emotional health with their prenatal care provider because they are worried about “being put on antidepressants.”

In other words, the fear (and myth) that there is only one option for treatment – medication – keeps women from even talking to their doctor about their struggles.

Within the context of the current recommendations, it is important for women to understand that there are options for treatment that they can discuss with their physician and for physicians to offer those options. Medication is but one option.

Originally published here.

Dr. Dawn Kingston, Canada’s leading expert on perinatal mental health and for over ten years, has been at the forefront of research on how to prevent postpartum depression. Her team has developed the HOPE App which is designed to significantly reduce prenatal anxiety and depression and directly support expectant mothers. They are studying it in a massive implementation study, one of the most ambitious projects of this type ever! 

Follow Dr Dawn Kingston on: 
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