Being pregnant is not for the feint of heart, particularly if you happen to struggle with depression. The extra influx of hormones can be overwhelming when you're already feeling emotional and preparing for your next big step in life. It can also be confusing for pregnant women who might think they can no longer take medication to maintain their mental health. So when Amber Portwood recently said she was taking "safe" antidepressants while pregnant, it was a little concerning. Because it gives the erroneous impression that some depression medication might be unsafe in her condition.
During a recent interview with Us Weekly, the Teen Mom OG star opened up about her recent pregnancy with boyfriend Andrew Glennon. This is her second pregnancy, she is already a mom to 8-year-old daughter Leah with ex-boyfriend Gary Shirley. This time around, Portwood is reportedly expecting a baby boy, according to People, and she's trying to stay mentally healthy throughout her pregnancy. As she explained to Us Weekly;
I’m on medication for depression now that’s safe for pregnant women, because it was getting pretty bad and we had a scare that maybe I would fall into a postpartum depression after the baby. But everything’s going smoothly.
I sincerely doubt that Portwood intended to give the impression that antidepressants weren't safe for pregnant women, but misunderstandings can often happen when people share their stories on the internet. So it's a good idea to clear up that most antidepressants are safe for pregnant women. Consulting your health care provider is always the first step to ensuring antidepressants are safe, of course, but for reference sake the Mayo Clinic shared a list of possible safe depression medications pregnant women can take (although each comes with its own set of warnings and possible side effects, so please take note):
- Certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
- Bupropion (Wellbutrin). This medication is also used to help quit smoking.
- Tricyclic antidepressants.
Before visiting your health care practitioner to discuss your options regarding antidepressants, it's a good idea to get a sense of the sort of medications you should avoid while pregnant. The depression medications that the Mayo Clinic advises against using include Paxil, which research has shown might increase the chances of a fetal heart defect, as well as:
In addition, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) — including phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate) — are generally discouraged during pregnancy. MAOIs might limit fetal growth.
While Portwood is planning to continue taking antidepressants throughout her pregnancy to help regulate her depression, she also plans to stay on top of things in other ways as well, as she told Us Weekly:
One of the main therapeutic things that I wanted to do is a blog for people who have mental illnesses and want to share their stories about how they overcame certain situations, just to show people that we’re all in this together.
Taking medication isn't the only way to help with depression during pregnancy, which affects one out of every four women at some point in their lifetime. The American Pregnancy Organization also recommends looking into light therapy, support groups, and private psychotherapy to help prevent worsening depression.
No woman should have to suffer with depression during her pregnancy. It isn't just harmful to her, it's also potentially harmful to the baby. The hormone change can create feelings of anxiety and sadness in women who might not have previously suffered, and it's absolutely ok to talk about it. To reach out and ask for help. And, as Amber Portwood has done, to reach out to your health care practitioner to talk about taking safe antidepressants during your pregnancy. You and your baby both deserve it.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.