Actress Amanda Seyfried gave birth to her first child earlier this year, and has been refreshingly vocal about her life as a mum. In a recent interview, she revealed that she opted to take antidepressants throughout her pregnancy in order to take care of her mental health during what can be a stressful, anxiety-inducing time.
“I didn’t get off my antidepressant," she said during an interview for the podcast Dr. Berlin’s Informed Pregnancy. "It’s really for anti-anxiety for me. I’ve been taking [anti-anxiety and depression drug] Lexapro for years and years and years, and I didn’t get off of it. I was on an extremely low dose.” Amanda revealed in 2016 that at age 19 she was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as "uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviours (compulsions) that [the sufferer] feels the urge to repeat over and over."
While Amanda said in the interview, "A healthy parent is a healthy kid," some mums might wonder whether taking antidepressants poses a risk to their developing foetus.
The answer: "The risk of exposure to antidepressants in pregnancy is quite small—and the recommendation of most obstetricians is that being depressed is worse than taking the antidepressant—so if a mum is significantly depressed, it is recommended that she continue to take her antidepressant," says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., board-certified ob-gyn and clinical professor at Yale University School of Medicine. She says that the only antidepressant that causes some concern for expectant mums is paroxetine, which can be associated with a slightly higher risk of the baby developing the heart condition primary pulmonary hypertension. But, Minkin adds, most obstetricians would just have a person switch from that drug to another.
Minkin also notes that a woman suffering from depression before pregnancy "is at somewhat higher risk of developing postpartum depression. So most obstetricians would suggest that a woman with depression follow up with her psychologist or psychiatrist for ongoing care."
According to Minkin, the most important thing a woman can do if she's planning to get pregnant is start taking folic acid and visit her ob-gyn before trying to conceive. That way, she says, "issues like depression and medications can be discussed, and changes made, if necessary."
Ultimately, each pregnant woman should do what she and her physicians decide is best for both mum and baby. Kudos to Amanda for doing just that.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health.