I’ve been thinking about this post since the first weeks of pregnancy. As anyone who is a long term reader knows I suffer with severe depression, I have for almost ten years now.
When I fell pregnant I was on 250mg Venlafaxine, an anti depressant that is one of the hardest to come off due to the withdrawal symptoms. When I suffered my miscarriage in 2009 I miscarried whilst I was withdrawing from another anti-depressant. Coincidence maybe but it scared the hell out of me. I made an appointment immediately with my GP after trying unsuccessfully to get hold of my psychologist. She looked it up in her little drug book and as there are no known complications to the pregnancy or baby other than the baby possibly getting withdrawal symptons during the neo-natal period we agreed we wouldnt take any drastic actions. After discussing a slow deduction we agreed I’d gradually drop to 150mg over the course of 3 weeks. I managed this quite smoothly and without too many withdrawal symptoms and was very relieved to get through it and down to 150mg and no miscarriage, yes I know there was not a link but in my mind I couldn’t help but fear it.
So since around 8 weeks I’ve been on a dose of 150mg but there is of course a reason why I was on 250mg, because the lower doses did not work for me. So being on 150mg I am finding is like being on nothing. My mind is in overdrive, I’m paranoid about everything, my mood swings are extreme, I’m closing up and not talking about things to those closest to me, I’m a complete insomniac again. Ultimately I am finding it bloody difficult. But at the same time I know what I’m doing is better for the baby.
However at some point I need to reduce to 75mg. If it feels like I’m on nothing now I am dreading what it will feel like when I get onto the 75mg. I’m hoping that we wont start the drop until around 30 weeks. The earliest I will be having a c-section is 36 weeks so I wont have been on a low dose for too long.
The trouble is at the moment I also have no back up support of a counsellor or support worker. My area has recently started a transition to a new system meaning those with conditions which require therapy no longer have a support worker but have access to a wide range of therapies, that is of course when your referral eventually occurs. My support worker discharged me back in November, still I am yet to hear from the new team even with my GP chasing them up. Its hard not having that regular support especially on a lower dose but thankfully my GP is really supportive and I’m able to go and speak to her regularly, but its not easy.
I’ve realised too that potentially after the birth I won’t be able to immediately go back to my normal dose of 250mg if Venlafaxine goes through the breast milk. Which is possibly leaving me with some tough choices. As my consultant and GP keep reminding me ultimately its about weighing up risk to the baby and risk to me. But for me the only thing I am worrying about is the baby.
Has anyone else had any experience of being on anti depressants whilst pregnant/breastfeeding?