New Delhi: As per WHO, depression is categorised as the leading contributor to global mental disability and nearly one million people commit suicide every year.

The lifetime prevalence is lower 3% in Japan and higher 17% in the USA. In India, the prevalence rate ranges between 0.5 and 78 per thousand population. Women are more prone to depression than men; and the predominance of major depressive disorder in women is highest (10–25%) during the childbearing years. 

Depression during pregnancy is a common condition, where prescribing a potential antidepressant drug becomes necessary as untreated depression during pregnancy has its own complications for both mother and the child. Exposure to antidepressants in the womb may increase the risk of developing affective disorders like depression and anxiety said, Dr Naresh Purohit, Executive Member of the Federation of Reproductive Health Service India.

Echoing his concern on this issue acclaimed  disaster mental health expert Dr Purohit told vibrant news that the children of untreated depressive pregnant mothers may express depression like behavioural responses with escalation of age. 

He added that for therapeutic management of various forms of depressive disorders, including in pregnant women, antidepressant agents are available, but classical antidepressants may cause several major, minor congenital anomalies and birth defects in neonates. 

He said that it is believed that atypical medicines are comparatively much safer than classical drugs for pregnant women.

Citing his recent study published in Neuropsychopharmacology, Dr Purohit - Advisor for National Reproductive and Child Health Programme observed that children whose mothers continued antidepressants during pregnancy had a higher risk of affective disorders than children whose mothers stopped taking antidepressants before pregnancy.

He averred that umpteen research studies over the globe in the past ten years have reported problems associated with taking antidepressants during pregnancy. These include impacts on the pregnancy, such as early delivery and lower birth weight; increased rates of malformations, such as heart problems in the baby; and an increased risk of autism in children. 

He cautioned that exposure to antidepressants in the womb is associated with a modest increased risk of speech and language disorders in children.

He stated that second generation antidepressants like Venlor may induce neurological abnormalities in the developing fetus in the womb; and neurobehavioral, psycho- pathological impairments related to anxiety, depression and cognition in the young offspring, if pregnant women have taken it during second or third month of pregnancy.