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Risk vs. Benefit

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I've been reading here where you wonderful ladies have said that the risks of NOT treating depression to mama and baby far outweigh the risks of anti-depressants. But I was wondering if anyone could elaborate on this for me? What are the physical risks to the child when mother is depressed? How do you see those risks outweighing the risk of taking medication to an almost exclusively BF'd 9 month old?

Any info would be GREATLY appreciated!
post #2 of 7
There is evidence that shows that infants with depressed mothers have an increased risk of cognitive delays, increased risk of psychiatric disorders, and attachment issues. I am currently getting my MA in Health/Lactation and am writing a paper on SSRI's and breastfeeding. Most of the SSRI's are safe for nursing mothers. Like any medication, there are going to be some patients that have adverse reactions or side effects. Most of the adverse reactions reported were in infants under a month.

If you are concerned, go on pub med and check out some studies.
post #3 of 7
As the pp said, the risks to the infant are cognitive and psychological. Depressed mothers interact with their children less, and when they do, they interact less well. This can set up the child for cognitive delays and psychological issues.

My own mother was severely depressed when she was pregnant with me, and for the first year or two of my life. It was a time before they treated depression, so she just muddled through. But it was hard on my older sisters (they describe doing anything they could to make mom happy - they thought it was their fault) and hard on me. It also has left us with a family legacy of depression and anxiety. 4 out of the 5 children in the family have been treated for depression at one point in time or another. My oldest sister and I have been hardest hit.

I'm trying to break the cycle for my kids - genetics are against me. We have a tendency toward anxiety (it goes along with the great imagination and quick mind). But I'm hoping that I can lay a strong psychological foundation for my kids. Part of that requires me to be healthy, and I was not healthy without meds. I'm at a point now where I can be healthy without meds, but it took a number of years (8 to be exact).
post #4 of 7
This is an extreme example, but babies in orphanages who get little personal attention eventually give up crying, before age one. Giving up crying because you know it doesn't get your needs met is not appropriate development. Physically these babies are also different from normal, some muscles over developed, some under etc.

That is extreme, but a depressed mother is not giving ideal care, we tend to focus on physical needs, eating and a clean diaper, the vast majority of babies are safe in the short term, but not in the long term. If they don't get talked to, they don't receive eye contact etc they don't develop as they should.

With many drugs even the potential harm of the drugs cannot clearly be distinguished from the harm possibly being caused by the depression not the drugs.

Not breastfeeding due to drugs would remove all the positive benefits of feeding at the breast, not just the nutritional and immunological benefits.
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks very much for the input ladies! I was curious if the dangers that people talk of were physical, or if they were mostly developmental.
post #6 of 7
This book makes a very strong case for the developmental harm of a non-responsive parent ... in monkeys. It is about the work of Harry Harlow, who did monkey experiments which could never be done on humans (and not on monkeys any longer) It applies well to severe depression in humans.

Blum, Deborah. Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection.
post #7 of 7
Italiamom- I am a 40 year old women, pregnant with #4 and suffering from untreated depression for 25-30 years that I can think of... and it was getting to serious crisis levels here recently. I did speak to my OB and recently began a treatment of Zoloft.

I was watching a show on TV, and I'm sorry I don't remember which it was- possibly "This Emotional Life" on PBS, or maybe one of the "Human Spark" ones with Alan Alda. Anyway- a point was made that shocked- horrified me and was one of the things that gave me the courage to get over my fear and prejudice of medicating depression- and to speak to my doctor.

The point made, graphicly, with brain imaging scan pictures... was that the hippocampus of depressed people is different than that of non-depressed people- AND the longer your depression goes untreated- the more damage is done to this brain structure... and apparently- treatment may reverse the ill effects.

I did a quick search just to get you started on what I'm talking about- but I have not researched this deeply and don't know what other info is out there. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Depress...3885728&page=2
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