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Psychiatric Illness and Pregnancy Require Careful Management

The Journal of Lifetime Learning in Psychiatry reports a growing number of pregnancies where psychiatric illness either predates or emerges during the course of the pregnancy. There are more than 500,000 pregnancies in the U.S. every year with a documented psychiatric illness and 33% of all pregnant women are prescribed a psychotropic medication at least once during the course of their pregnancy. While use of psychotropic medications may be a cause of concern of fetal safety during pregnancy, 30 years of research indicates many medications may be used safely. In some cases, discontinuing use of prescribed medications is not a safe option when reviewing the risks associated with psychiatric illness.

Psychiatric Illness Relapse up to 68% in those who Discontinue Medications

For many, pregnancy is a time of feeling both emotionally and physically well, however up to 20% of women develop a mood or anxiety disorder during pregnancy. Women with a history of psychiatric illness who choose to stop their psychotropic medications are found to be highly vulnerable to relapse. Women’s Mental Health online report studies show a 26% relapse rate for those who continue with psychopharmacology treatment as opposed to 68% that relapsed after discontinuing their prescribed psychiatric medication. Data indicates the risk of relapse was five times greater for those pregnant women who stopped their treatment medication for a mental illness or disorder. Relapse rates show similar findings for those women diagnosed with anxiety, panic, depression, mood disorder or bipolar disease.

Risks of Discontinuing Psychiatric Medications During Pregnancy 

It is critical to develop, pre-pregnancy if possible, a good working relationship with an expert not only in psychiatric treatment, but with a psychiatrist who combines a long standing history of successful individualized treatment strategizing, with the ability to tie in adjunct therapies or cognitive behavior intervention. Some of the risks involved in stopping psychiatric medications during pregnancy include:

  • A decrease in the likelihood to receive adequate prenatal care
  • A decrease in the ability to make good decisions
  • An increase in use of alcohol, tobacco or illegal substances
  • An increase in the potential to take part in dangerous behaviors
  • Delivery of a child with low birth weight, or fetal growth retardation in depressed mothers
  • Preterm delivery as a complication with mothers experiencing anxiety, panic or distress
  • Increased risk for development of pre-eclampsia for mothers experiencing depression or anxiety/panic
  • Increased risk of immediate treatment for infant respiratory distress, hypoglycemia or other health issues

Atlanta Mental Health Pregnancy Psychiatrist

Careful management of mental illness medications along with cognitive behavioral therapy during pregnancy can provide the optimal outcome for mother, family and baby. Dr. Darvin Hege is committed to providing individualized treatment planning that works for you.

Call to schedule a personal appointment with Dr. Hege today.