Can I take antidepressants while breastfeeding?
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Postnatal depression, also known as postpartum depression, is a serious and widespread medical condition because it affects 1 in 8 women. It can be installed 3 weeks after the baby is born and can last for several months. As breastfeeding brings many physical and emotional benefits, both for the mother and the baby, safe antidepressants have been identified during breastfeeding, which does not require breastfeeding.
Can you take antidepressants during breastfeeding?
The need to follow a medication during breastfeeding may prove to be a difficult and stressful decision for the mother. It is important to seek the advice of the specialist doctor, this will help you make the right decision, giving you the answer to the 2 most important questions:
- Do the benefits of the medication outweigh the adverse effects on the child?
- Do the benefits of medication outweigh the benefits of breastfeeding and breast milk?
If you consult a specialist doctor, you will find that most tricyclic antidepressants are considered safe to use, even by pregnant or breastfeeding women, or will recommend a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. This class of drugs has been shown to be very effective in women, with minimal side effects.
In the case of tricyclic antidepressants there are no adverse reactions to the breastfed child, but several side effects have been reported in the mother. The doctor will indicate the start of the treatment with a low dose, after birth the women acquire an increased sensitivity to the side effects of the drugs.
How postpartum depression manifests
Depression is considered the disease of the century in which we live, and unfortunately is often overlooked, regarded as a condition of daily life. Superimposed with the period of pregnancy or the one after the birth, it affects both the condition of the mother and that of the baby.
A mother suffering from depression may experience the following symptoms or feelings:
- Irritability states;
- Lack of interest for the baby;
- Loss of appetite and impaired sleep;
- Social withdrawal;
- Deep feelings of guilt or anger;
- Feelings of sadness and episodes of crying;
- Thoughts that can even generate a desire to hurt yourself or your baby.
These manifestations can also lead to anxiety disorders or panic attacks. These can be particularly serious, and can even trigger obsessive compulsive disorders. The quality of life is deeply affected, the mother may feel unable to care for the child, even avoiding contact with him.
Other frequent manifestations:
- The mother can feel a continuous fear related to the health of the baby;
- Overwhelmed by persistent thoughts, the mother may resort to compulsive behavior, which may help her manage her obsessive thoughts more easily and reduce her fears;
- Compulsive behavior can be manifested by the constant need of the mother to clean, to continuously check the health of the child, to follow every move of the child.
How long is antidepressant treatment?
Antidepressant treatments are usually recommended for at least 6 months, they should treat the depression itself, and prevent possible relapses. In this regard, the attending physician may recommend continuing the treatment for up to one year before discontinuing it.
Treatment with selective serotonin and tricyclic reuptake inhibitors requires 4 to 8 weeks, before any improvement or disappearance of depression is observed. With regard to the treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, discontinuation is not sudden but gradually under the direct supervision of the physician.
Abrupt discontinuation may cause anxiety, nervousness, or insomnia. Women breastfeeding and undergoing antidepressant treatment should inform the pediatrician about this.
Whether it is mild or severe postpartum depression, counseling and supportive therapy are absolutely necessary tools for women battling depression, and are complementary to antidepressant therapy.
Alternative treatments for postpartum depression
If, however, you are not convinced that it is safe for you and your child to use antidepressant medication or if it is a mild form of postpartum depression, you may try the following alternative therapies:
- Calling support groups - it may prove useful to contact other women who are experiencing the effects of post natal depression. Sometimes even the simple idea that you are not alone can lift your mood;
- Psychotherapy - this form of therapy is one recommended in combination with drugs, but also alone. It involves a common effort between the therapist and the patient, the therapist listens, learns and encourages the patient to apply the techniques discussed in the cabinet, in his daily life;
- Specific breathing techniques - the mother who uses these techniques can reach a relaxed state through controlled breathing, thus the heart rate decreases, the muscles relax and the blood pressure stabilizes;
- Bright light therapy - bright light therapy is an option that is suitable for both pregnant and lactating women, is easily accessible and well tolerated;
- Increased intake of Omega 3 and proper nutrition - Omega 3 deficiency can trigger depressive states, it is necessary to resort to fish oil supplements. As far as nutrition is concerned, it is known that proteins help maintain blood sugar, thus keeping our moods within normal parameters. Calcium, magnesium and folic acid are needed in large proportions;
- acupuncture - especially helps in anxiety states, many patients feel a general feeling of peace after acupuncture sessions;
- Massage - the cortisol level decreases significantly in people who receive massage sessions at least twice a week;
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation - represents a new course of treatment for the relief of depression, this therapy generates short pulses of magnetic fields that stimulate the brain cells responsible for controlling the mood.
Regardless of which course of treatment you decide to take, medicinal, alternative or purely therapeutic, do not ignore the possibility of installing depression and take attitude from the first signs.
Tags Postpartum depression Breastfeeding