Are you experiencing severe depression during pregnancy and are you looking for a cure for the same? Have you read about Lexapro (Escitalopram) in popular health magazines and websites, but cannot decide whether it can harm your unborn baby? If these questions have you worried, worry no more. Read our post below and learn all about taking Lexapro during pregnancy, and whether it is safe here.
Depression during pregnancy is the most common occurrence for pregnant women. If you are experiencing symptoms of mental fatigue and anxiety disorders, consult the doctor immediately. You should take antidepressants once you consult your gynecologist. Some antidepressant medications impose harmful effects on both you and your unborn baby. Here we look at one such antidepressant, Lexapro and how it affects your pregnancy.
What Is Lexapro (Escitalopram)?
Lexapro is an effective antidepressant, which belongs to the group of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).Lexapro eases depression and anxiety disorder. The medication restores the chemical balance of your brain and increases the serotonin level. Serotonin influences your mood and relieves depression. However, if you take the medication during pregnancy, it induces birth defects as well as pregnancy complexities.
The antidepressant improves your energy level and keeps your mental state calm and positive. It will make you feel energetic and calm your mind. Recommended dosage of Lexapro treats the condition of major depressive disorder in adults.
Lexapro came into existence in the year 2002. The manufacturer is Forest Pharmaceuticals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initially passed the medication approval for only adults above 18 years old. But later FDA approved the antidepressant medication to treat anxiety disorder in adolescents 12 or older. In the year 2012, when the drug’s patent reached termination, the manufacturer introduced a generic version of Lexapro in the medical market.
During the ten years of drug watch, in 2004 the FDA published a statutory warning to all patients, especially to the younger individuals below 25 years old. In 2006, the FDA did issue another public health advisory note stating that intake of Lexapro or any other SSRIs during pregnancy can induce serious birth defects (1).
Some Important Facts About Lexapro (Escitalopram):
Before we look at the safety of taking Lexapro while pregnant, let’s look at some facts about the antidepressant.
- Lexapro harms the developing fetus in mother’s womb and induces numerous birth defects in the newborn baby.
- If you are experiencing terrible symptoms of depression, it is better to take Lexapro after consulting your doctor. Tell your doctor about your pregnancy. The doctor may suggest the appropriate dosage of the medication.
- Lexapro eventually passes into breast milk and enters your breastfeeding baby’s body. So, during the breastfeeding phase doctors may advise you to avoid intake of Lexapro or other SSRIs.
- Lexapro induces several health problems in your newborn baby shortly after her birth. If you take the medication during the last few months of pregnancy, the onset of birth complexities only increases.
- Take Lexapro only if the medication’s potential benefits outweigh its risks.
- Lexapro is quite safe for adults and adolescents/teens above 12 years of age.
- Children younger than 12 years should never intake Lexapro (2).
Is It Safe To Take Lexapro During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, you need to intake Lexapro (Escitalopram) under the strict supervision of your gynecologist. Your gynecologist may reduce the dosage of the anti-depressant or replace the drug with any other therapeutically safe treatment procedure. Research concludes that high dosage of Lexapro (Escitalopram) increases the risk of pregnancy/fetal complications.
Like all other SSRI’s, there are some interaction issues of Lexapro with other medications. So before taking the antidepressant, inform your doctor about all the medications you take in your daily life. If you are taking any other antipsychotic medications, tell your doctor immediately before taking Lexapro.
The intake of Escitalopram during pregnancy last trimester of pregnancy increases the risks of birth defects and fetal complications. When taking the antidepressant medication Lexapro, you should never stop intake of the medication suddenly. It induces withdrawal symptoms in your newborn baby, and she experiences numerous health discomforts. It is advisable to reduce the dosage of Lexapro gradually and then stop taking it (3).
Benefits Of Taking Lexapro During Pregnancy:
Some of the positive aspects of taking Lexapro while pregnant are:
1. Treats Depression:
The accurate dosage of Lexapro helps you overcome depression during pregnancy. As your gynecologist detects the symptoms of clinical depression and other signs of stress including insomnia, loss of appetite or sudden weight loss, he prescribes the medication in the early phase of pregnancy. You may also experience some negative feelings of depression during pregnancy including suicidal thoughts, hopelessness and feeling alone. With an intake of Lexapro your mood improves, and you start feeling positive about life and having a baby (4).
2. Treats Anxiety:
Lexapro treats generalized anxiety disorder during pregnancy. The condition is quite different than normal anxiety issues. Generalized anxiety disorder causes excess worry and tension that disrupts your normal life. Some of the common signs are difficulty concentrating, unexplained feelings of apprehension, insomnia, fatigue, headaches and muscle aches. If the signs persist for more than six months, your doctor suspects the condition of generalized anxiety disorder (5).
3. Migraine Prevention:
When you are the victim of a chronic migraine, the doctor may prescribe medications to help you overcome intense migraine pains. The intense pain often occurs on any one side of your head. It also induces several other health discomforts such as nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light. The pain can also last for several days during your pregnancy. In such circumstances, the intake of Lexapro in pregnancy treats the pain effectively.
Side Effects Of Lexapro (Escitalopram) During Pregnancy:
Some of the noticeable side effects of Lexapro when pregnant include:
- Dry mouth
- Excessive sweating
- Sexual dysfunction
- Some of the rare side effects of Lexapro (Escitalopram) during pregnancy are:
- Menstrual disorder
- Abdominal pain
- Decreased libido
- Sinusitis (6)
Birth Defects Associated With Intake Of Lexapro (Escitalopram) During Pregnancy:
Recent studies conclude that intake of antidepressant Lexapro induces several birth defects in your newborn baby. The medication falls under FDA Pregnancy Category C drug, and most doctors prevent intake of Class C drugs in pregnancy.
Some of the common birth defects associated with intake of Lexapro during pregnancy are:
1. Coarctation Of The Aorta:
In such a condition, your infant’s aorta is extremely narrow and blood cannot flow smoothly to different parts of her body. To treat the condition, your newborn baby needs to go through surgical treatment.
[ Read: Symptoms Of Sinusitis In Pregnancy ]
2. Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome:
The heart defect occurs when the left side of your infant’s heart is underdeveloped. The condition can even lead to sudden death. To survive from such heart defects, your baby has to go through a heart transplant or surgery.
3. Pulmonary Stenosis:
Your infant’s pulmonary valve is extremely narrow, which results in lesser blood supply to his lungs.
4. Septal Defect:
The condition occurs when a hole exists in the wall of your infant’s heart. It causes improper blood circulation in his body. To treat the disorder, your baby needs an open-heart surgery.
5. Transposition Of The Great Arteries:
The condition occurs when the aorta and pulmonary artery switch with one another. The interchange of two vital heart components results in a lack of oxygen in your infant’s bloodstream.
The condition occurs when some of the sutures in your infant’s skull remain hard for premature development. It imposes conditions of misshaped skull, the improper growth of his head, and intracranial pressure.
7. Cleft Palate:
When the part of the skull forming the roof of the mouth does not join completely, your infant develops the condition of the cleft. There exists a hole in the roof of his mouth, as the cleft palate could not properly develop. Cleft palate induces many difficulties like speech disorders, ear infections, breathing problems and feeding issues.
8. Cleft Lip:
It is a typical type of facial defect that affects your infant’s upper lip. Cleft lip imposes the condition of delays in speech and language.
9. Club Foot:
The condition occurs when the muscles, bones, blood vessels and joints of your baby’s legs or foot are abnormal. Such disorder imposes the condition of walking difficulty in the matured stage.
10. Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN):
The condition occurs when the passage of blood towards your infant’s lung gets restricted. As a result, a limited amount of oxygen gets dissolved in his bloodstream.
11. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD):
Research concludes that intake of SSRIs during pregnancy triggers the condition of ASD in your newborn infants. As Lexapro alters the level of chemicals in the brain, it harshly affects your baby’s brain development process.
12. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD):
Higher doses of Lexapro increases the risks of ADHD in your infant. He may experience conditions like lack of concentration, behavioral issues or difficulty understanding during his early childhood phase (7).
Withdrawal Symptoms Of Lexapro (Escitalopram) In Newborn Babies:
If you stop taking Lexapro during pregnancy suddenly, it can lead to some complications for your growing fetus. Your newborn baby may experience some withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Difficulty feeding
- Breathing problems
- Increased muscle tone
- Sleeping disorders
- Tremors (8)
Handling Lexapro Withdrawal Safely During Pregnancy:
You can effectively eliminate the withdrawal symptoms of Escitalopram in pregnancy, by following the helpful tips:
- Don’t stop the intake of Lexapro abruptly during your pregnancy phase. Try to reduce the dosage of Lexapro slowly. No matter how small the dose was, the abrupt withdrawal of Lexapro induces several health deformities in your newborn baby.
- Take the decision of Lexapro withdrawal under the strict supervision of your doctor. The doctor will design a gradual plan and provides complete health monitoring and support during the withdrawal process.
- The tapering process involves a systemic reduction of Lexapro dosage. To accomplish such dosage reduction, the doctor advises to cut or divide the pill or capsule and reduce the dosage slowly every 1-2 weeks.
- The pace of tapering varies from individual to individual. No one can accurately predict the total time for Lexapro withdrawal. It is important to hold your patience and follow the taping process.
- As you are undergoing the tapering process, try to avoid intake of alcohol or prescription painkillers.
Why Avoid Intake Of Lexapro (Escitalopram) During Pregnancy?
There are several reasons for which you should avoid intake of SSRIs during the delicate phase of pregnancy.
- Taking Lexapro during the last trimester of pregnancy increases your baby’s risk of suffering from numerous birth complexities. Some serious problems like heart disorders or breathing problems may even require immediate hospitalization.
- Your baby is at greater risk of heart defects (holes and malformations in the chambers).
- The life-threatening health condition of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN) can even lead to sudden death in babies.
Non-Drug Ways To Overcome Depression During Pregnancy?
There are different natural therapies and methods to help you overcome the symptoms of depression during pregnancy. Some of such effective depression overcoming methods, include:
- Talking therapy
- Regular exercising
- Prenatal Yoga
- Nutritional support
All such effective ways reduce emotional distress and improve mood during pregnancy. Many pregnant women fear facing situations of childbirth and labor. With the natural ways and attending community support, you can remain positive and overcome hopelessness, isolation, and despair.
How Does Prenatal Yoga Help To Deal With Depression During Pregnancy?
Prenatal Yoga is one of the effective natural treatments to cure depression and acute anxiety disorder during pregnancy. By incorporating effective yoga routines, you can elevate your mood and bring positivity in your stressful life. The useful postures and breathing techniques help to overcome stress, fear, and acute depression.
Research concludes that yoga serves as natural mind-body medicine during pregnancy. It improves your sleep quality, balances your brain’s chemicals and eliminates toxins from your body. All these factors contribute to elevating your mood and helping prevent the symptoms of depression and stress. During pregnancy, you need to practice the effective postures with great awareness and coordinated breathing. It helps maintain a healthy blood pressure level and regulates the blood flow rate.
[ Read: Effects Of Anxiety During Pregnancy ]
Health Benefits Of Prenatal Yoga During Pregnancy:
During pregnancy, you may experience a terrible burst of emotion and severe mood swings. Practicing prenatal yoga postures helps to maintain your mental peace and get rid of severe depression.
Here are some of the effective health benefits of prenatal yoga to control depression during pregnancy when copared with Lexapro and pregnancy:
1. Maintains The Balance:
With the constant growth of the fetus, your body loses its balance and suffers from numerous health discomforts. Prenatal Yoga helps to maintain your body balance and eliminate the unwanted stress from your body.
2. Calms The Nervous System:
The deep breathing technique helps your nervous system to enter into the parasympathetic mode. It aids to relax your nerves and improve sleeping disorder. Disturbed sleep patterns are one of the key reasons to induce the condition of depression during pregnancy. When the body enters into the relaxed mode, you can sleep better, your digestion system improves and your immune system works properly.
3. Increases Blood Circulation:
Prenatal yoga postures aid in the smooth circulation of blood to different parts of your body. As a result, the painful swelling and muscle pain minimizes, and it elevates your mood and helps you stay calm and positive.
[ Read: Ashtanga Yoga During Pregnancy ]
4. Relieves Anxiety Disorder:
The accurate breathing technique, the stretching postures, and the calm environment can help your mind attain a mental state of peace and freedom. It helps to eliminate all your stresses and tensions and get relief from the anxiety disorder.
5. Boosts Confidence Level:
During pregnancy, most mothers lack confidence and are extremely nervous to handle the situations of labor and childbirth. By incorporating prenatal yoga in your daily regime, you can effectively boost confidence levels and think more positively than before (9).
Effective Prenatal Yoga Postures To Manage Depression During Pregnancy:
Here are some of the effective prenatal yoga postures, which help you in getting relief from depression during pregnancy.
1. Matsyasana (Fish Pose):
To perform the Matsyasana, follow these steps:
- Lie on your back and keep both your feet together. Keep the hands in relaxed state and place them on either side of your body.
- Now move the hands underneath your hips and keep the palms facing downwards. Bring both the elbows held close to each other.
- Breathe slowly and lift your head and chest a little upwards.
- Keep your chest in the elevated position. Lower the head backward and try to touch the floor with top of your head.
- As your head touches the floor, firmly place the elbow on the ground and impose your body weight on the elbow. Lift your chest upwards and try to press the thighs and legs onto the floor.
- Hold the posture as long as your body permits you to do so.
- Take gentle breaths and exhale deeply.
- Now lift your head upwards, and lower down your chest from the elevated level. Gently make your head touch the floor and bring your hands to the earlier position, on either side of your body. Relax.
The Fish Pose stretches your chest and back muscles. It strengthens the upper part of your neck and helps to reduce symptoms of stress and tension during pregnancy. The posture also treats the condition of respiratory disorders and tones your pituitary glands.
2. Janu Shirsasana (One-Legged Forward Bend):
To perform the Janu Shirsasana, follow these steps:
- Sit on the floor firmly and stretch both your legs straight in front of your body. You can also keep a blanket underneath your buttocks to feel more comfortable.
- Now bend your right knee and move the heel toward your perineum. Keep your right foot relax and let it touch the left inner thigh. Lay the outer side of your right leg on the floor and place at a right angle position with the left leg
- Stretch both your hand towards the sole of your left foot and try to hold the right hand with your left hand. Bend your body forwards and try to line up your navel with the mid position of your left thigh.
- Work the posture by pressing your head towards your knee and sliding the right heel towards your body.
- Keeps your neck, shoulder, and hips in relax position. Always try to maintain your shoulders parallel to the floor.
- Hold the stretching pose for about few seconds and then release.
- Repeat the same process again with your left foot. Relax.
The yoga posture stretches your spine and back muscles and increases your muscle flexibility. The posture improves the functioning of your liver and kidney. It helps to calm the nervous system and get rid of depression, anxiety and severe headache during pregnancy. One-Legged Forward Bend cures the health condition of depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
It is always advisable to avoid intake of SSRIs during pregnancy and try some effective natural ways to manage the condition of depression and stress.
Incorporation of effective prenatal yoga postures helps you get rid of depression during pregnancy naturally. If you urge to stay mentally strong and calm during pregnancy, think about some of the natural treatment methods rather than directly depending upon the antidepressant medications.
Keep yourself free from stress and depression and try to remain happy always. Follow the specific suggestions and prescribed medications as advised by your gynecologist. Intake of nutritious food and healthy supplements can help to ward off depression as well. If you still find yourself in little doubt about the antidepressant medications like Lexapro, consult your gynecologist today. Remember, to take complete care of your health and enhance the growth aspects of your unborn baby.
Did you intake Lexapro (Escitalopram) at any time of your pregnancy period? Did you experience any health discomforts or potential side effects? Was your newborn baby a victim of the withdrawal symptoms? Share your experiences about Lexapro pregnancy with fellow mommies here.
Comment in the box below! We would love to hear from you. Have a happy and safe pregnancy mommy.
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