Is Vivactil Safe to Take While Pregnant?

Depression is a disease that often needs medication to ensure symptoms are well-managed. However, during pregnancy, this can create an issue. Some medications aren’t safe during pregnancy and may pose risks to an unborn baby. One medication used to treat depression is Vivactil, but is it safe to continue using during pregnancy? Vivactil helps balance the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Vivactil’s active ingredient is called protriptyline. It’s classified as a tricyclic antidepressant. Protriptyline is unique among other tricyclic antidepressants because it tends to have a more energizing effect as opposed to acting as a sedative. For that reason, it’s sometimes also used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Certain tricyclic antidepressants like protriptyline are also used to reduce migraine headaches and to help treat other forms of chronic pain.

There are certain risks and side effects associated with the use of Vivactil. For example, it may increase stress on the heart and heart rate. People with certain cardiovascular diseases or who have recently had a heart attack might not be good candidates to take this medication. Common side effects of Vivactil can include dry mouth, irritability, dizziness, anxiety and headache. The side effects of Vivactil may be more pronounced if it’s used along with other central nervous system depressants or antidepressants. It can be dangerous or even deadly to take Vivactil with other medications intended to increase serotonin levels in the brain. If someone has been taking Vivactil for a prolonged period, they shouldn’t try to stop taking it suddenly. Suddenly stopping Vivactil can cause withdrawal symptoms. Some of these symptoms may be similar to the flu or could include rebound depression.

So, is Vivactil safe to take while pregnant? Vivactil is a category C pregnancy drug. Many drugs fall into the FDA’s category C. Category A drugs are considered safe to take while pregnant. Category A drugs have shown no adverse effects on a fetus, in either animal or human studies. Category B drugs are also considered safe, and they haven’t shown harm in animal studies although well-controlled human research might not be available. Category C drugs have shown the potential to cause harm in animal fetal studies, but there aren’t well-controlled human studies. With category C drugs, a doctor may still advise a pregnant woman to use them if the benefits outweigh the risks. There are also category D drugs which, in most cases, shouldn’t be used during pregnancy. Category X drugs definitely shouldn’t be used during pregnancy.

How Can Vivactil Affect Your Baby?

There’s no way to know for sure whether Vivactil will affect a baby if it’s used during pregnancy, but risks can’t be ruled out. All tricyclic antidepressants and most other types of antidepressants are category C drugs. With any category C drug, a healthcare provider is likely to look at the benefits the drug brings and then consider what the potential risks are. Since there are risks associated with untreated depression, it may be that a doctor recommends a woman keep using Vivactil.

There are some links between the use of certain tricyclic antidepressants and the risk of an unborn baby developing birth defects. Tricyclic antidepressants may also be associated with an increased risk of postpartum hemorrhaging if they’re used in the second or third trimester. However, these risks do remain low. There is some research that also indicates the use of antidepressants in pregnancy can delay developmental milestones in a baby. What’s difficult with a lot of this research, however, is that there’s no way to know if it’s the medication causing these effects or something else such as the underlying symptoms the medicine is used to treat.

If a mother takes Vivactil or another antidepressant during pregnancy, her baby may experience withdrawal or discontinuation symptoms after birth. These symptoms can include things like eating and sleeping disturbances and excessive crying. Newborn discontinuation from antidepressants tends to start to dissipate within 48 hours after birth, and symptoms are usually fairly mild.

Alternatives To taking Vivactil While Pregnant

There is a lot to think about if you’re considering becoming pregnant or are currently pregnant and you use an antidepressant like Vivactil. First, it’s important not to stop taking Vivactil or any antidepressant without first speaking to your doctor. Aside from that, untreated depression can cause side effects. Risks associated with untreated depression during pregnancy include low birth weight, decreased fetal growth and premature birth.

Untreated depression while pregnant also ups the likelihood of postpartum depression and may cause problems with bonding and breastfeeding once the baby is born. Beyond that, a healthcare provider may opt to change you from Vivactil to another antidepressant during pregnancy. For women with mild depression symptoms, their doctor may have them try to manage their symptoms without medication during pregnancy. Any of these options should only be done under the supervision of a medical professional.

If you’d like to hear more about addiction treatment, or you have questions about addiction, please call The Recovery Village today.

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.