Is Celexa Safe to Take While Pregnant?

The question as to whether or not Celexa is safe to take while pregnant is somewhat complicated. The generic name of Celexa is citalopram. The drug is an antidepressant that is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Celexa helps restore the balance of certain chemicals in the brain. In some countries, Celexa is approved to treat panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and agoraphobia. For the most part, Celexa is believed to be an effective antidepressant, and it’s found to have fewer side effects than some other options. Some research has shown it to be effective in 85 percent of cases with generalized anxiety disorder. This includes patients who hadn’t received effective treatmentfrom the use of other SSRIs.

Celexa may be safe to take while pregnant but it also is associated with risks as well. Antidepressants, and specifically SSRIs, are a point of controversy during pregnancy. Some women may not want to take any medicine while they are pregnant. However, untreated depression during pregnancy can cause its own set of problems. For example, a woman with untreated depression may be less likely to eat a healthy diet or take proper care of herself. Experiencing major depression during pregnancy is linked to a higher risk of low birth weight, premature birth, and decreased fetal growth. Untreated depression during pregnancy is also linked to postpartum depression, difficulty bonding with a new baby, and stopping breastfeeding earlier.

How Does Celexa Affect a Fetus?

Celexa may be an option during pregnancy but the use of these medicines has also been associated with certain complications, such as premature birth and low birth weight. There is also a higher risk of heavy bleeding after birth. Most SSRIs aren’t linked to birth defects –with the exception of Paxil, which may lead to a slightly higher risk of a fetal heart defect. If a woman takes an antidepressant like Celexa during the last trimester of pregnancy, there is a risk of discontinuation symptoms right after birth. Symptoms may include irritability, problems feeding, jitteriness and respiratory issues. However, this usually subsides around a month after birth. If a mother takes an SSRI during the third trimester, there is a slight chance that the baby could be born with persistent pulmonary hypertension, which is a serious lung condition. However, while some studies have shown a link, others have not. There was a small study that looked at eleven babies whose mothers took Celexa during pregnancy. By the first year, there wasn’t any difference in development as opposed to children who were not exposed to Celexa in the womb.

Alternatives to Taking Celexa During Pregnancy

Despite the fact that Celexa isn’t highly associated with an increased risk of birth defects, some women may not want to take any medicines while pregnant. This is a discussion that should be had with their healthcare provider. It’s important not to suddenly stop taking any medication, particularly during pregnancy. If you discuss your desire to avoid medications while pregnant, your doctor will likely weigh the risks of the medicine against the benefits of using it. For women who only have mild anxiety or depression, they may be able to find alternative treatment options and stop using the medication. For women with severe depression or anxiety, not using Celexa could be more detrimental than using it during pregnancy. If a doctor does determine that a woman can stop using Celexa during pregnancy, she could make lifestyle changes to help manage her depression or anxiety. Examples can include incorporating prenatal yoga or medication into her daily routine, or alternative treatments like acupuncture. Many pregnant women also benefit from some form of counseling or talk therapy as they try to stop using medications. A healthcare provider may also work to limit the exposure to any other medicines as much as possible during pregnancy. Some doctors may opt to have a woman continue on her current medication, but they may slowly reduce the dosage to ensure she’s using the lowest effective dose possible.

Overall, Celexa is considered to be somewhat safe during pregnancy. Even so, there’s no way to say any medication is completely safe while pregnant. However, among antidepressants most SSRIs tend to be linked to the fewest negative outcomes. Speak with your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have.

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.