Zoloft is a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It’s commonly prescribed to treat mental health conditions like severe depression, anxiety, and others. For the most part, taking Zoloft during pregnancy is considered safe. In fact, it’s trusted as one of the safest antidepressant options — but there are some potential risks to know about.
Here, we’re exploring the safety when it comes to Zoloft and pregnancy, how much can be taken during pregnancy, and any possible Zoloft side effects you should know about. We’ll also discuss fertility concerns related to taking the drug and breastfeeding guidelines for those who use it before or after giving birth.
Safety Note: The ability to take a certain medication can vary by person and situation. It’s important to talk to your doctor to confirm whether Zoloft, or any other medication, is safe for you during each pregnancy.
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Continue reading to learn more about Zoloft and pregnancy.
Is Zoloft Safe for Pregnancy?
When it comes to Zoloft and pregnancy, there are some risks to be aware of. However, we must also consider that the alternative — not seeking treatment for severe depression or other mental health conditions — can also be dangerous.
“According to the latest research, there are increased risks for certain birth defects from some SSRIs, but the actual risk for a birth defect among babies born to pregnant women taking Zoloft or another SSRI is still low. The birth defects found were rare, which also contributes to making it even lower risk. It’s best to discuss with your psychiatrist if you should continue to take your SSRI medication if you become pregnant.”– Talkspace therapist Bisma Anwar, LMHC
How much Zoloft can you take while pregnant?
It’s best to avoid taking any medications during early pregnancy. However, your healthcare provider might determine that taking Zoloft while pregnant is essential for your mental health. If so, they’ll likely prescribe the lowest possible dose needed to control symptoms while monitoring you closely throughout your pregnancy.
What pregnancy risk category is Zoloft?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified Zoloft as a Pregnancy Category C drug. This means that animal studies have shown potential harm to a fetus. Still, no adequate human studies have yet been conducted.
Potential Risks of Zoloft During Pregnancy
Taking too much Zoloft during pregnancy might increase the potential risk of certain complications, including preterm labor and low birth weight babies. Taking more than the recommended dose could cause more severe side effects, so following your doctor’s instructions when taking this antidepressant medication during pregnancy is critical for your and your baby’s health.
Can Zoloft cause birth abnormalities?
In terms of Zoloft and pregnancy, there is some concern that SSRI use might contribute to an increased risk of respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary hypertension, and other complications. However, more research is needed before a definitive conclusion can be made about this connection.
It’s important to note, though, that most research concludes that SSRIs likely aren’t associated with severe abnormalities or malformations.
Can Zoloft cause withdrawal symptoms in my baby?
While Zoloft is not addictive, there are often concerns about the potential withdrawal in babies. Some studies suggest that when mothers take very high doses of SSRIs late into the third trimester, babies might be at an increased risk for experiencing neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS can cause jitteriness/irritability, difficulty sleeping, and feeding issues.
Does Zoloft mess with fertility?
There is some research suggesting that women who take SSRIs may have lower pregnancy rates. Discuss all your options with your healthcare provider if you’re trying to conceive.
Can I breastfeed while on Zoloft?
Research needs to continue, but generally speaking, breastfeeding is safe if the mother takes Zoloft. Of course, there is no such thing as “zero-risk,” but Zoloft is considered the first-line drug for breastfeeding mothers, according to studies. Consult your doctor to make sure your dosage is appropriate if you’re breastfeeding.
Talk to a Psychiatrist to Determine If Zoloft Is Safe for You
If you’re considering taking Zoloft and pregnancy is in your future, it’s important to speak to a doctor specializing in treating mental health conditions during pregnancy. They’ll be able to assess your situation and determine if this drug is safe for you as a pregnant woman and your baby based on factors such as medical history and current symptoms.
Always consult your doctor before taking any medication when pregnant — Zoloft is no exception. While the risk of taking Zoloft while pregnant may be low, it’s still important to understand what category it falls into and how much you can safely take. Talk to an online psychiatrist at Talkspace today about any of your symptoms or concerns with taking Zoloft.
- Marchocki Z, Russell NE, Donoghue KO. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and pregnancy: A review of maternal, fetal and neonatal risks and benefits. Obstetric Medicine. 2013;6(4):155-158. doi:10.1177/1753495×13495194. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5004326/. Accessed December 18, 2022.
- Casilla-Lennon MM, Meltzer-Brody S, Steiner AZ. The effect of antidepressants on fertility. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2016;215(3). doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2016.01.170 . https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4965341/. Accessed December 18, 2022.
- Pinheiro E, Bogen DL, Hoxha D, Ciolino JD, Wisner KL. Sertraline and breastfeeding: Review and meta-analysis. Archives of Women’s Mental Health. 2015;18(2):139-146. doi:10.1007/s00737-015-0499-y. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4366287/. Accessed December 18, 2022.