Is Pristiq Safe to Take While Pregnant?

Pristiq is a medication that’s classified as a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor or an SNRI. The generic name of Pristiq is desvenlafaxine. Pristiq is an antidepressant prescribed for the treatment of major depressive disorder. Pristiq is believed to help symptoms of depression by balancing natural brain chemicals including norepinephrine and serotonin. Common adverse side effects of Pristiq can include dizziness, nausea, headache, drowsiness, dry mouth, diarrhea, sleep disturbances, constipation and fatigue. Also possible are more serious side effects such as tremors, blurred vision, anxiety and sexual dysfunction. Rare adverse side effects can include low blood sodium, seizures and hallucinations. There are certain warnings that people should consider before using Pristiq. For example, they should let their doctor know if they’ve taken an MAO inhibitor in the past two weeks. If so, a dangerous interaction is possible. Pristiq can raise blood pressure, and it can cause a condition called angle-closure glaucoma.

There is a general warning that comes with Pristiq regarding the potential that it can cause suicidal thinking and behavior. This risk is particularly significant in children, teens and young adults. When someone begins an antidepressant like Pristiq, they have to be monitored for any signs of suicidal thoughts or behaviors. So, is Pristiq safe to take while pregnant? Pristiq may be safe to take while pregnant, but a woman should speak with her doctor about the possible risks. Some antidepressants may be considered safe during pregnancy, while others aren’t. Most healthcare providers will assess the possible risks of continuing Pristiq during pregnancy, versus the benefits of the drug. Just because a woman becomes pregnant, it doesn’t automatically mean she has to stop using antidepressants, but it is a conversation she needs to have with her doctor.

How Can Pristiq Affect Your Baby?

It isn’t known for sure how Pristiq can affect your baby, and that uncertainty is one reason a pregnant woman might opt not to use the medication. SNRIs, which is what Pristiq is classified as, are for the most part considered safe for use during pregnancy. However, there is some research showing using SNRIs toward the end of pregnancy can increase the risk of postpartum hemorrhaging. Other than that, currently most antidepressants that are both SNRIs and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), aren’t believed to be linked to an increased risk of birth defects. The only antidepressants typically not recommended for use during pregnancy are Paxil, Nardil and Parnate. Some MAOIs have also been linked to restricted fetal growth.

It’s important for pregnant women first to continue taking Pristiq until they speak with their doctor, even if they become pregnant. There can be risks associated with stopping an antidepressant cold turkey. Sometimes those risks can be greater than the risks of continuing to use the medication. Even if a woman decides she wants to stop using Pristiq, her doctor will likely recommend she gradually taper her dose down, rather than discontinuing it suddenly. There is another consideration with the use of Pristiq during pregnancy. Untreated depression can cause its own set of pregnancy complications and adverse effects. If a woman has major depression and it goes untreated, it can cause problems with eating and sleeping, which can negatively impact a fetus as it develops. There is also the potential for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Untreated depression is linked to low birthweight babies and premature labor. It can also cause difficulties with bonding after the baby is born. Untreated depression during pregnancy is believed to cause infants to be especially sensitive to stressors. Also linked to untreated depression during pregnancy is the risk of children who develop behavioral problems or who have issues with language and cognition during childhood.

Alternatives to Taking Pristiq While Pregnant

While every woman is different and a doctor’s instructions should always be followed, alternatives to taking Pristiq while pregnant may be available. Typically, if a woman has mild or moderate depression and she would rather not take an antidepressant, her doctor may recommend other treatment options. For example, talk therapy can be helpful. If a woman does need antidepressants, her doctor will typically ensure she’s on the one that has the lowest potential for risks and also the lowest effective dose. Overall, antidepressants like Pristiq may be safe during pregnancy but only under the supervision of a doctor. It’s very important not to stop taking any medication including Pristiq suddenly without consulting a doctor first. If a pregnant woman has questions about her depression and how to best treat it during pregnancy, her doctor can help her find the right option.

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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.