Early Exposure to SSRIs

There was an interesting study published on Science Daily this week about the use of SSRIs during a woman’s pregnancy. It’s vital for research to be performed on this subject as there are many women who can’t cope without their medications for 9 months (or more if breastfeeding) and those who develop depression or anxiety while pregnant.

“The results of the six-year study appear early online Dec. 19, 2014 in the peer-reviewed journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

SSRIs like Prozac and Lexapro act by blocking the actions of a protein called the serotonin transporter, which removes the neurotransmitter serotonin from the signaling space between neurons. Andrews and her team also studied mice that had been genetically engineered to have a reduction or absence of serotonin transporters in the brain. They were able to compare early antidepressant exposure to permanent reductions in serotonin transporter function.

Genetic reductions in serotonin transporters are thought to be a risk factor, particularly when combined with stressful life experiences, for developing anxiety and mood disorders. And in fact, the genetically engineered mice Andrews studied showed more anxiety as adults.

“It might be possible that when mothers are treated for depression or anxiety during pregnancy that certain SSRIs may promote resilience to developing these disorders in children later in life,” Andrews said. “However, it will take much more research for us to understand whether this is true and whether certain SSRIs may be better at promoting these effects.”‘

It is an interesting study that compliments an earlier post of mine about the versatility of SSRIs. If mothers taking SSRIs during pregnancy has the effect of making their offspring less likely to experience depression or anxiety than that is a huge find and runs contrary to the opinions of many regarding the use of antidepressants during pregnancy.

Of course, a six year study isn’t long enough to truly determine the long-term effects of SSRIs on infants in the womb; anything that messes around with neurotransmitters and especially during pregnancy needs to have a study of massive proportions over a time period that lasts until at least age 20 of the children.

Still, for all of the people screaming angrily about the use of antidepressants this seems like more evidence that we can’t jump to conclusions about the use of them, what the long-term effects might be and whether they could be positive.

 

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