October 24th, 2011
01:38 PM ET

Is it OK to take antidepressants while breast-feeding?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Asked by Eliza from Indiana

I recently had my first baby and just learned I have OCD. My doctor put me on a very low dose of antidepressant and my symptoms are much better. I am breast-feeding my son and don't want to use formula but am worried about side effects. What problems should I look for?

Expert answer

Thanks for your question, and congratulations on your baby! OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, has been found in some studies to be more common in post-partum women. When unwanted thoughts and compulsive behaviors become intrusive or harmful to the new mom and/or her baby, an antidepressant or other medication may be helpful.

Anything that a mother ingests can be transferred in varying amounts through breast milk to the baby. Antidepressants can be found in low or undetectable amounts in nursing infants. Depending on the exact medicine, the baby may not show any side effects, although some antidepressants have been reported to cause crying, fussiness, sleep problems, poor growth, and even seizures.

Ask our expert doctors a question

Reactions to medications in breast-feeding babies tend to be more common under 6 months of age and are usually temporary. It is not well known, however, what long-term effects these medications might have on a child's development. To minimize short-term problems, it may be helpful to time the dosing of medication to occur right after the baby has breast-fed or before a long stretch of sleep. Also, both mom and baby should be monitored closely by their respective physicians.

The benefits of breast-feeding a baby often outweigh the risks of exposure to an antidepressant, and parents with treated medical (including mental health) problems are generally better able to care for their babies. I therefore encourage mothers to talk with their physicians about best medication choices and nonmedical treatments that are safe to use while breast-feeding.

Follow Dr. Shu on Twitter

soundoff (236 Responses)
  1. Bobby

    There are no tests to see if you have a shortage of serotonin.. There are no tests to see if Anti-Depressants actually do what they say vs. Placebo. But the side-effects are real.. Better to be safe than sorry..

    October 24, 2011 at 15:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LEB

      Better an emotionally stable mother than a mother sinking into uncontrollable post-partum depression.

      October 25, 2011 at 07:36 | Report abuse |
    • Aileen

      You are right Bobby. There are natural ways to boost serotonin anyway. The best one is to take 5HTP. It turns into serotonin in the body, and it had a great effect on me when nothing else was working. I feel so much better, and unlike the antidepressants, the effect actually stays when you stop taking it. I've recommended it to my family and they've all had the same good results as me. Give it a try before harming your baby with antidepressants!!!!

      December 2, 2011 at 22:07 | Report abuse |
  2. toddflanders

    Typical breast feeding dogma. Here's a good rule with regards to drugs and breast feeding: if you wouldn't give the meds to the baby, you shouldn't breast feed while taking those meds. The benefits of breast feeding don't always outweigh the unknown side effects of any med on breast feeding kids.

    October 24, 2011 at 20:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dreamsoftravel

      Well, Todd, that's pretty rich coming from a male who won't have to deal with the issue. If you are suffering from depression, chances are good that you forfeited taking any meds throughout the pregnancy. Once you give birth, before spiraling into a horrid postpartum depression that could affect your ability to care for your child, it's a good idea to get back on the depression medication. Your view is overly simplisitic. Yes, ingesting no caffeine of any kind, no medication of any kind, etc., is IDEAL, but sometimes that is simply not practical or even a good idea. A happy mom equals a happy baby. We aren't talking illicit drugs here-we're talking about antidepressants, and a dosage that is monitored by a physician.
      Give birth and then you can have an opinion on the subject...

      October 25, 2011 at 11:24 | Report abuse |
    • Marie

      I've given birth, and if I had to be on anti-depressants to function, I would bottle feed the baby. I have taken Prozac and Celexa, and I would not in a million years give that to a baby, any baby, especially my baby! You people are all selfish. If you need your meds, bottle feed. Your breast milk is NOT that precious!

      October 25, 2011 at 11:54 | Report abuse |
  3. Andrea

    I wish the Dr. had been more clear in her response that YES taking antidepressants (specifically Zoloft) has been established as safe for breastfeeding mothers and women do not need to choose between breastfeeding and their own mental health. Too many women suffer severe depression because they do not want to take medications while breastfeeding. Even Dr. Hale, the well known authority on safety of medications while breastfeeding says Zoloft is a safe medication while breastfeeding.

    October 24, 2011 at 23:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nate

      It is also important to understand that psychotherapy provided by a licensed mental health professional is as effective and sometimes more effective than medication. If you are a nursing mother who is concerned about taking antidepressants, I would highly recommend asking your doctor for a referral to an experienced psychologist trained in evidence based approaches to treating anxiety and depression. Nursing mothers do not have to choose between taking medication and no treatment at all.

      October 25, 2011 at 11:36 | Report abuse |
    • John

      The only issue with that is the cost of therapy. This is often not covered by insurance and can be quite expensive to most people. Just a thought...

      June 29, 2012 at 18:54 | Report abuse |
  4. Special Ed Teacher

    I've been teaching children special needs for over 20 years. Now with the influx of children with Autism and on the spectrum, I would advise against breast feeding while taking meds. There are so many staggering statistics, (like 1 in 42 children at my middle school) I would be careful and bottle feed your baby. No one can pinpoint the how or why of Autism.... I can just say I am exhausted at the end of the day when I go home, but my students' parents have to raise the child for a lifetime. Continue taking your meds, you will be a better mom for it!

    October 25, 2011 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sarah

      What education do you have to prove that medications are causing the increased autism? You are a teacher and you have no idea what their parents took while they were breast feeding their children. Breast feeding has many benefits for both the baby and the mom that bottle feeding cannot reproduce. Next time know your limits before you think you're making an intelligent comment.

      March 6, 2012 at 00:09 | Report abuse |
  5. Ethics Board

    "The benefits of breast-feeding a baby often outweigh the risks of exposure to an antidepressant, and parents with treated medical (including mental health) problems are generally better able to care for their babies. I therefore encourage mothers to talk with their physicians about best medication choices and nonmedical treatments that are safe to use while breast-feeding."

    As a practicing pediatrician, I completely disagree with this statement. I have seen plenty of poor eating, sleepy infants who mothers are breast feeding and take anti-depressants. Some medications are totally unsafe, but a majority are unknown. To say that breast feeding outweighs the risks of these medications getting into a newborn is about illogical as linking maternal anti-depressant use to autism.

    May 4, 2012 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Joni

    WOW! Some of these statements are just so uneducated and stupid! And do you know what is in formula? Seriously? Marie, you are an idiot.

    May 17, 2012 at 15:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Marinac Krallisj

    I used to be recommended this web site by means of my cousin. I am not sure whether or not this post is written by way of him as nobody else understand such precise approximately my trouble. You're wonderful! Thank you!

    July 28, 2012 at 05:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. icon set

    P.S. Please review Water molecule Icon from medical-icon-set

    September 21, 2012 at 15:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Adam

      that the paxil would make my brain function cocrlrtey again, and all the things that my mental state had been shoving aside and burying would come out in full force and it might be too much to handle.She was absolutely right. I found a counselor through my church and saw him weekly while on paxil, and for a while afterwards because the emotions that finally came alive could have been extremely overwhelming if I didn't have that vent and opportunity to put things in perspective.Unfortunately, not all doctors are so well informed and this is why I believe there are so many suicides while on antidepressants – they really work, but you need help to make sense of it all.Any time I hear of someone on these medications, I ALWAYS ask if they are in some kind of counseling situation – I don't care if I'm perceived as nosy, I'd rather save their life than be liked any time.As for the breast feeding issue, my son nursed until he was about two and a half, my oldest daughter for about a year, and my youngest for about six months. I was not going to deny them the comfort of this contact, public opinion be damned. What business is it of anyone's when one decides to stop nursing? There are many reasons to do it, and medical reasons are one of them, work and family pressures, etc. It's too bad that this woman felt her baby wouldn't feel loved if she stopped nursing to take care of herself, and unfortunately, she was probably not in a state of mind to be able to evaluate this rationally.

      October 11, 2012 at 18:10 | Report abuse |
  9. icon archive

    It is very a pity to me, that I can help nothing to yo. I hope, to you here will help.


    September 23, 2012 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RastaLife

    Sorry but your doctor is a moron just like most...The problem with doctors today is that none of them deal or talk about preventative medicine....

    May 14, 2014 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Stephen Tags

    You can also be cured if you are suffering from HERPES or any critical sickness that is giving you heartbreak and disturbing you by contacting_______________________ robinson.buckler {@yahoo}}. com

    November 9, 2020 at 00:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. KbrgMile

    authentic viagra generic viagra 100mg uk can i buy viagra over the counter uk

    November 25, 2020 at 02:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. DbsfZisse

    buy viagra online in us lowest price viagra uk rx pharmacy generic viagra

    November 25, 2020 at 02:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. FmsgEncox

    viagra 100 como tomar natural viagra around the house que me pasa si tomo viagra

    November 25, 2020 at 17:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. FdbvZisse

    sildenafil over the counter canadian viagra online viagra tablets in india

    November 26, 2020 at 02:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. FnsbEncox

    case study write up literature review dissertation college essay list

    November 28, 2020 at 16:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. JgscCrulk

    essays regarding discrimination college essay 3 [жі›иѕѕдё»йЎµ –

    November 28, 2020 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. FnrhEncox

    viagra canadian pharmacy order viagra cheap viagra online

    November 29, 2020 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. FsfEncox

    a good thesis pay for an essay essay writing in elementary school

    November 29, 2020 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. FtghEncox

    buy a essay paper pay someone to do homework help with an essay on learning objectives

    November 29, 2020 at 21:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. DvscZisse

    essay writing instructions help making a thesis statement write my essay for me free

    November 30, 2020 at 06:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. KwgdMile

    philosophy homework help journal research paper buy dissertation online

    November 30, 2020 at 07:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. FgsZisse

    doing homework for money do my math class buy an argumentative essay

    December 1, 2020 at 05:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. FnrdEncox

    viagra with depoxatine overnight shipping viagra 25mg no prescription cvs viagra

    December 1, 2020 at 23:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. FbsbEncox

    cialis walmart all cialis drug original prices how much does cialis cost at walmart

    December 8, 2020 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. FqbfEncox

    how can i buy cialis online cialis online dapoxetine real cialis

    December 9, 2020 at 20:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. DvncZisse

    cialis 20mg overnight buy cialis in australia brand cialis with prescription

    December 10, 2020 at 03:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. JgsvCrulk

    viagra, depoxtine viagra in qatar sample viagra for free

    December 10, 2020 at 06:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. FsfgEncox

    buy generic viagra online delivery fast viagra paypal viagra prescription insurance

    December 10, 2020 at 12:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. FgnsZisse

    how can i buy cialis online generic cialis 7days cialis super active 20 mg

    December 11, 2020 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. FgrsEncox

    generic viagra without perscription viagra on line quick ship viagra

    December 11, 2020 at 03:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. KhedMile

    viagra in mexico over the counter viagra sold in plipeans buy viagra usa

    December 11, 2020 at 21:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. DvnjZisse

    viagra online with paypal viagra and dapoxetine160 mg viagra on line\\

    December 15, 2020 at 01:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. FhsnZisse

    viagra professional online pharmacy viagra in los angeles viagra online canada paypal

    December 15, 2020 at 22:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. EAgish

    positive x words to describe someone: community youth center of san francisco, positive self talk. Related data: community colleges with biology programs, positive reinforcement youth sports, community america near me, positive and negative intervals worksheet, community biology teacher community action agency quincy fl. positive correlation test community culture synonym pharmacie#, individual level organizational behavior positive pregnancy test but no symptoms Paxil 40 mg# community wide. community youtube community bible church pierre sd, community synonym word hippo, friends lobster, social justice.
    positive and negative rules , planning process group activities community acquired pneumonia onset community acquired pneumonia bactrim.

    December 27, 2020 at 22:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. FwsxEncox

    canada drug pharmacy canada pharmacy best drugstore bb cream

    January 9, 2021 at 03:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. AqwsEncox

    online pharmacy canada mail order pharmacy pharmacy rx one reviews

    January 9, 2021 at 06:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. LokuEncox

    specialty pharmacy canadian online pharmacies india pharmacy

    January 9, 2021 at 21:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. KhthMile

    best drugstore foundation for dry skin erection pills canada pharmacy reviews

    January 10, 2021 at 22:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. FgvdZisse

    canadian pharmacies impotence legit online pharmacy

    January 11, 2021 at 05:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. JtmfEncox

    best canadian pharmacy global pharmacy canada rx express pharmacy

    January 11, 2021 at 12:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. JlloCrulk

    drug store news ce best drugstore foundation for dry skin best drugstore liquid eyeliner

    January 12, 2021 at 21:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. FgnhZisse

    generic viagra purchase with mastercard u. s. overnight viagra cipla viagra canada viagra prices generic viagra prescription free viagra optimum on line to canada viagra viagra in australia get free viagra viagra pharmacy paypal pfizer viagra 100g after market viagra lapela versus viagra where to get viagra in toronto i want to try viagra viagra super active canada

    January 15, 2021 at 08:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. KlioMile

    viagraforcheap\\ viagra professional scam generic viagra from canada viagra online adelaide viagra australia buy online viagra/ dapoxetine cvs viagra viagra cheap fast shipping best price viagra viagra 50 mg generic viagra viagra delivery usa viagra with dapoxetine low price viagra no prescription viagra price compare

    January 15, 2021 at 22:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. JvcxCrulk

    viagra paypal viagra online viagra dubai location genereic viagra viagra mastercard accepted cut price viagra viagra not working viagra no prescription generic viagra viagra cheap fast delivery brand viagra generic viagra supplier india buy viagra and have it next day how much does viagra cost with a prescription cialis viagra levitra canada

    January 16, 2021 at 20:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. NlbxZisse

    viagra online south africa generica viagra doctor burlington vt viagra free trial canadian viagra online non prescription viagra las vegas nv cheap chinese viagra paying with paypal free viagra samples canada viagra cost comparison where can i get just a few viagra without costing a arm or a viagra canada sales viagra gum buy viagra generic online canadian viagra suppliers buy viagra buy viagra paypal

    January 18, 2021 at 03:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. LcxEncox

    vegas viagra local buy viagra online in usa buy viagra usa http://genqpviag.com/ – how much is viagra at walmart ’

    January 19, 2021 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. FbdhZisse

    cialis no prescription buy cialis without prescription online buy cialis http://21cialismen.com/ – generic cialis no prescription ’

    January 20, 2021 at 09:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. KbctMile

    canada cialis with dapoxetine cheapest cialis 20mg cialis windsor canada http://mycialedst.com/ – research cialis ’

    January 20, 2021 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. JbdcEncox

    online viagra wild viagra uk viagra price http://llviabest.com/ – viagra generic paypal ’

    January 21, 2021 at 05:30 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5

Leave a Reply to pharmaceptica


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.