• Pregnancy is a special time for a mother. But individuals who are expecting may be curious about what anxiety prescriptions are safe during pregnancy.
  • The risk of harm to both the mother and fetus should be considered before stopping or starting any medication and should be discussed thoroughly with one’s psychiatric provider and OB/GYN.
  • With this in mind, SSRIs and SNRIs are typically considered the “safest” anxiety medications for pregnant individuals.
  • If a pregnant individual decides to stop taking their medication after consulting their provider and doctor, their anxiety medication will be slowly tapered off to avoid side effects which may include nausea, irritability, fatigue, and more.
  • Ultimately the decision is up to the individual as to whether or not they’d like to continue taking anxiety medication during their pregnancy term.

If you’re pregnant, or are trying to conceive, chances are you’re curious (and maybe a little nervous) about how certain medications and substances might affect your pregnancy. You probably know to avoid alcohol and limit caffeine among other things. But what about psychiatric medications?

How can prescription drugs that you’re taking, or wanting to take, affect your baby’s health, as well as your own? We’ve covered the essentials below—but be sure to talk with your psychiatric provider and OB/GYN about your medications before making any changes. 

Untreated mental illness also provides risk to mom and baby, individually, and in terms of bonding and comfort and safety within the family unit. This should be taken into consideration when considering the risks of these medications during pregnancy.

What Anxiety Medications Can Be Taken During Pregnancy?

Anxiety disorders can be treated with medication during pregnancy—but it depends on the type. Many chemicals and emotional states that are experienced by the mother can also affect the fetus, so extra precautions are taken while someone is expecting. 

With this in mind, the list of anxiety medications that may be safe to take during pregnancy includes:  

  • Serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors, also called SSRIs — which may be known by the names Zoloft, Lexapro, or Citalopram — are most commonly used during pregnancy and have a low risk of harm to the fetus. 
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, also called SNRIs, are less commonly prescribed than SSRIs but are still considered safe to take during pregnancy in most cases. They may go by the names duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor) and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq).

SSRIs and SNRIs, however, represent the safest anxiety medications, and offer the least amount of negative side effects to pregnant and nonpregnant individuals. Other common medications, such as benzos are not safe in pregnancy, especially the first trimester, and should be tapered to avoid harm to both the fetus and mother. 

What Will Happen If I Stop Taking My Anxiety Meds During Pregnancy?

As mentioned previously, medications should never be changedor stopped without advice from a medical professional while pregnant. Discontinuing medication abruptly could lead to adverse effects. 

That’s why some medications require the dosage to be slowly tapered down to prevent discontinuation symptoms, which can include: 

  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Muscle aches and soreness
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue

While these symptoms can be uncomfortable, they are not dangerous. However, if you are considering becoming pregnant, it is very important to talk to your psychiatric provider early on in the process so you can make any necessary medication changes slowly to avoid these discontinuation symptoms. 

Will I Experience Severe Anxiety While Pregnant?

Pregnant women may experience anxiety or many other mental health symptoms while being pregnant, just like non-pregnant women. As women’s bodies go through changes during pregnancy, these changes could promote the occurrence of anxiety. 

Pregnant women who already have a history of anxiety may be prone to experience an increase in their anxiety symptoms while pregnant. Anxiety during pregnancy might be triggered by: 

  • Changing body image 
  • Mood swings
  • Hormonal changes
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Increased hunger or thirst
  • Bodily pain and discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Worries about the well-being of the fetus
  • Relationship issues
  • An unsupportive work environment

If someone is experiencing recurrent anxiety during their pregnancy, talking with a therapist who specializes in pregnancy-related conditions and concerns could help. Start by making a list of your anxiety symptoms, or keep a journal of your experiences during pregnancy—these can be used as tools to help your therapist or psychiatric provider understand what your symptoms are. 

Should Pregnant Women Abstain from Taking Medicine During Pregnancy, Even If They Have Anxiety?

Risk of harm to the fetus vs. the benefit of the mother’s treatment should always be considered before deciding to start or stop an anxiety medication. It’s ultimately up to the individual to decide whether they will take medication during their pregnancy term. 

Talk with a doctor or your psychiatric provider about the medications you’re taking, as well as the risks of continuing or stopping. Additionally, talk to them about any concerning symptoms you are experiencing and always obtain medical advice before starting any new medications.