Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Depression During Pregnancy

Out of every 10 women who are pregnant, one or two have symptoms of major depression. Women who have been depressed before are at higher risk.

Depression is a serious medical condition. It poses risks for the woman and her baby. But a range of treatments are available. These include counseling, psychotherapy, support groups, therapy with light, and medications.

It is usually best for a team of health care professionals to work with a pregnant woman who is depressed or who has a history of depression. Team members include:

  • The provider who is caring for her during her pregnancy
  • A mental health professional
  • The provider who will take care of the baby after birth

Together, the team and the woman decide what is best for her and her baby. The team can connect her to support groups, help her consider counseling and psychotherapy, and assess the need for light therapy or medication.

Often a pregnant woman wonders whether antidepressant drugs, such as Zoloft and Prozac, will harm her baby or herself. There are no simple answers. Each woman and her health care providers must work together to make the best decision for her and her baby. The drugs used to treat depression have both risks and benefits.

IMPORTANT: If you are taking an antidepressant and find that you are pregnant, do not stop taking your medication without first talking to your health provider. Call him or her as soon as you discover that you are expecting. It may be unhealthy to stop taking an antidepressant suddenly.