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A 29-year-old female asked:

Feeling depressed towards the end of my pregnancy now after trying to deal with anxiety and panic attacks. doing therapy. am i hurting my baby?

5 doctor answers11 doctors weighed in
Dr. Kathy Robinson
Family Medicine 32 years experience
No: you are not hurting your baby. Just do the best you can to get help and stay as positive as you can. Pregnancy is difficult in the best of circumstances and anxiety,panic and depression make it harder. If is probably okay to start a medication since you are near the end of your pregnancy. Counseling, meds and exercise can all help lift anxiety and depression. Many women feel better after delivery.
Dr. Donald Gieck
Clinical Psychology 14 years experience
Coordinated care: It is great that you proactively sought a therapist. Recommend therapy be coordinated with your obstetrics provider or overseeing health care provider to ensure good prenatal care. Depending on the level of depression/anxiety additional treatment options may be available. Depression and other mental health disorders may affect one's ability to follow medical recommendations for prenatal care.
Dr. Patricia Foster
Psychiatry 44 years experience
No: Great that you're at the end of your pregnancy, in therapy and recognize the need to get help for anxiety and panic attacks. If your anxiety/panic attacks are daily and severe/last more than a few minutes, please talk to your therapist and obstetrician about a low dose of anti-anxiety medication (SSRI - safe, non-addicting) which may help you and your baby through the rest of the pregnancy.
Dr. Matthew Smith
Psychiatry 40 years experience
No: There is a chance that a mother's depression and anxiety may affect a fetus; but there is also how, epigenetically, the fetus may be influenced by the mother's efforts to resist depression and anxiety. "Hurting" your baby is entirely too strong. You should reconsider medicine for panic attacks, but you should also affirm the course you have taken, to protect your child -- therapy is helpful.
Dr. Enrique Madrigal-segura
Psychiatry 54 years experience
Also try relaxation: I understand you must be very worried about your mood changes. It would be more likely the baby might suffer more with some medications. So, you have made a good decision. I would advise to try some Cognitive Behavio Therapy, with emphasis on learning how to relax and positive thinking. The welcoming of your child should be a great motivation to to give up. I am glad you agreed to be in therapy.
Dr. Enrique Madrigal-segura
Psychiatry 54 years experience
Provided original answer
I appreciate all the additional responses. Just would like to mention the risk of pulmonary hypertension for the newborn after treatment with SSRI's during the last trimester of pregnancy.
May 27, 2015
Dr. Richard Roberts
Pediatrics 46 years experience
Recently, SSRI use in pregnancy has been associated with increased risk of autism.
Jun 3, 2015

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Last updated Nov 27, 2017

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