Question: What special precautions should pregnant or breastfeeding women keep in mind while taking anxiety medications?
Answer: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding while taking medication for an anxiety disorder should be aware of a number of different things. Firstly, the medications that we prescribe tend to be either an antidepressant in the SSRI category or a benzodiazepine, something like a Xanax or a Valium.
Both of those categories of medications have some potential complications in pregnancy, can include organ formation, complications for a fetus, can include early miscarriage for a woman taking the medications, some of the medications. And may also include withdrawal symptoms in a baby that's born when a mom has been taking one of these medications.
The specifics of this are pretty complicated and really need to be discussed in depth with your treating physician prior to a pregnancy.
Breastfeeding is also a little complicated, but the short answer is that one can breastfeed on the antidepressant class of medications without tremendous risk to the baby.
I should also mention very importantly that untreated anxiety disorders can also affect a pregnancy and a fetus and really in significant ways. So this is not to say that a medication should not be taken while pregnant; rather that one needs to weigh the risks and benefits of treatment or non-treatment when going into a pregnancy situation.