Use of psychiatric drugs during pregnancy

Psychiatric drugs are chemical agents which are being used in the treatment of many neuropsychiatric disorders, the most common ones being depression and anxiety disorder.

Contrary of common belief, many psychiatric disorders have a tendency to worsen during the pregnancy and the postnatal period. Other psychiatric disorders emerge in the late pregnancy and during the postnatal period. These are called antenatal and/or postnatal depression (or psychosis according to its severity).

As the first 10 weeks of pregnancy is the stage when the embryo’s organs are formed, particular care is taken not to use any drugs during this period.

In the light of the evidence we possess it is possible to say that no data has been obtained that would indicate that existing psychiatric drugs, apart from a few, do harm the foetus or the ongoing pregnancy. However, due to insufficient ‘definite’ proof that psychiatric drugs can be used with absolute safety during pregnancy, it is often difficult to come to a definite decision. Under such circumstances the practitioner should assess the severity and particulars of the patients past psychiatric history, the severity of her condition at present, the presence or absence of a suicide risk or deterioration in the eating habit, and should together with the patient select a treatment. Throughout treatment he should be in cooperation with the gynaecologist who follows-up the pregnancy.

It should not be forgotten that psychiatric disorders that are left untreated, can also increase the risk to the foetus and the pregnancy, therefore essential treatment should not be disrupted on the grounds of pregnancy only.