Managing Depression When You Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding
Disclaimer: This page houses important information and resources pertaining to depression during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, including links to our evidence-based Fact Sheets. However, the resources here should not replace the care and advice of a medical professional.
Anyone can experience symptoms of depression at some point in their life, like when going through relationship problems, grieving the loss of a loved one, or facing job loss. But when the symptoms of depression are severe, persistent, and interfere with everyday activities, these may be signs of clinical depression (also called Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD). When major depression happens during pregnancy or after childbirth, it is called Peripartum Depression (PPD; formerly called postpartum depression). MDD and PPD are serious conditions that may make it difficult to complete daily tasks in order to care of yourself or your baby, and may interfere with bonding, which might have a negative effect on the baby’s development and behavior.
Depression is nothing to be ashamed of. If you think you may be clinically depressed, talk with your healthcare provider or a licensed mental health professional about your symptoms and concerns.
Are You In Crisis?
If you are in crisis, it is very important that you reach out now and find the support and information that you need to be safe. Contact your health provider, a local emergency number, or one of the following National Emergency Hotlines.
National Crisis Text Line
Text HOME to 741741
Anywhere in the U.S., anytime, about any type of crisis.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline and Website
Call 1.800.273.8255 | www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Free, confidential, and available 24/7.
Network of more than 140 crisis centers nationwide.
Pregnant persons with depression – and their babies – typically do better if their depression is treated. Some studies (not all) have reported higher rates of miscarriage, preterm delivery, low birth weight, and pre-eclampsia when depression is left untreated in pregnancy. Treatment for depression can include medications, talk therapy, or a combination of the two. It’s important that you discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers when planning pregnancy, or as soon as you learn that you are pregnant. As always, check out our resources if you’re looking for information about specific medications. And remember: always talk with your healthcare providers before stopping any medication you are currently taking.
Reference: American Psychiatric Association, October 2020.
Please see our library of resources below on depression during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Related Fact Sheets
- Bupropion (Wellbutrin®)
- Citalopram | Escitalopram (Celexa® | Lexapro®)
- Desipramine (Norpramin®, Pertofrane®)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta®)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac®)
- Imipramine (Tofranil®)
- Ketamine (Ketalar®)
- Mirtazapine (Remeron®)
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa®)
- Sertraline (Zoloft®)
- St. John’s Wort
- Venlafaxine (Effexor®)
Related Baby Blogs
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Depression and Anxiety During Pregnancy and After Birth: FAQs
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Postpartum Depression and Breastfeeding
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Postpartum Depression
- American Psychiatric Association: Postpartum Depression
- American Psychological Association: Postpartum Depression
- Anxiety & Depression Association of America: Pregnancy and Medication
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Depression Among Women
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Depression During and After Pregnancy
- International Childbirth Education Association: Breastfeeding and Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders
- March of Dimes: Depression during Pregnancy
- March of Dimes: Postpartum Depression
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Depression
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Major Depressive Disorder with Peripartum Onset
- National Institute of Mental Health: Depression
- National Institute of Mental Health: Perinatal Depression
- Postpartum Support International: Depression During Pregnancy & Postpartum
- What To Expect: Recognizing and Treating Depression during Pregnancy
Stay in Touch
Our e-Newsletter brings you the latest information, news, and resources from the experts at MotherToBaby.
Join a Study
Expecting parents deserve better information about medication use in pregnancy and breastfeeding – and you can help by participating in a study.
Ask Our Experts
Call, text, chat, or email for a free personalized risk assessment on exposures in pregnancy and breastfeeding.