Psychiatric medications: What is safe in pregnancy?

What is safe in pregnancy?

Whether you’re pregnant or considering getting pregnant, brings a whole bunch of emotions, questions, & concerns.

Many women considering getting pregnant ask if it’s safe to continue using previously prescribed medications up to, during, and after pregnancy (postpartum). This is an issue for all women, but particularly for those taking medication for brain disorders, like anxiety, attention deficit disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder.

A natural thought is “I should just stop taking medication, so it doesn’t affect my baby,” but this thought can be bad for a mother’s brain and therefore bad for the baby. Mental health needs have been ignored in the past when women were pregnant, and psychiatric medications were thought to be unnecessary.  This is Wrong.

Studies have shown that having a history of psychiatric problems increases the likelihood of similar problems in pregnancy if medication is discontinued.  The slip back into problems can happen quickly, with more than half of pregnant women with a history of depression getting worsening depression in the first 3 months of pregnancy.

Restarting medications later in pregnancy doesn’t seem to protect against depression. For women with a prior history of these brain disorders, relapse may present a greater risk than continuing with medication during pregnancy.

Untreated depression in pregnancy has serious consequences for everyone:  the mother, the baby, and the  family.

Risks to the mother include higher rates of serious pregnancy complications:  preeclampsia, C-section, and preterm birth. Untreated depression during pregnancy may also result in long-term detrimental effects on the developing child’s emotional, behavioral, and cognitive development. Infants born to mothers with untreated perinatal depression often have poor sleep and difficult temperament. Older children who were exposed to maternal depression during pregnancy are at increased risk for anxiety, ADHD, behavior, and conduct disorders, which appear to persist into teenage years and early adulthood.

What to do?

Consider the following and talk to your psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner:

1. If you have a long history of a brain illness that requires treatment with medication, do not abruptly stop meds as you and your baby are at increased risk of relapse during pregnancy.

2. Most current antidepressant medications have a favorable safety profile during pregnancy, but there are some considerations that need to be considered before deciding what to do, get an appointment and discuss your options.

3. Don’t make a decision without talking to your OB/GYN, psychiatrist, or psychiatric nurse practitioner (in consultation with the psychiatrist).

Find out more about our clinic, call 615-224-9800 or text 615-551-5853, or make an appointment online,

NeuroScience & TMS Treatment Center

Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended or implied to be a substitute for personal consultation and professional medical advice.

At the NeuroScience & TMS Treatment Center, we have several treatment options we can use, beyond common medications and therapy, to aggressively treat you for brain diseases. Learn more about our treatments and services on our Comprehensive Behavioral Health Page

Blog Post Authors 

Michelle Cochran, MD, DFAPA

Founder & Chief Medical Officer • Medical Director, Nashville Locations

Dr. Cochran has been living and working in the Nashville area for over 25 years. She supervises the skilled Nurse Practitioners who work in our clinics. She has been offering TMS services since 2011 and lectures and consults nationally and internationally about TMS. She is Board Certified and is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Learn more about Dr. Cochran.


Jonathan Becker, DO

Medical Director, Brentwood Locations

Dr. Becker is a native of Tennessee, born in Memphis. He completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees in Developmental Psychology at Tulane University in New Orleans before attending Des Moines University for Medical School. He completed his psychiatry residency program at Vanderbilt University and served as a faculty member there for 7 years before transitioning to our office. While at Vanderbilt, Dr. Becker served as the medical director of the neuromodulation service from 2017-2020. Dr. Becker has also published many psychiatric articles. Learn more about Dr. Becker.

Scroll to Top