The Terrifying Reality Of Going Off Depression Meds To Have A Baby

How do you manage depression when SSRIs and other medications are not an option?

woman holding pregnancy test Dragana Gordic / Shutterstock

I try to divorce Michael at least once a month. I blame this on my PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or what I like to call "PMS on crack"), though I've also been diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety and, once, a psychopharmacologist told me I had obvious bipolar tendencies. Either way, I'm not the easiest person to live with (as if you didn't already feel bad enough for my husband, due to my sexual issues).


Sometimes, I fling my wedding band across the room, lock myself into the bathroom, or scream myself raw. And once, I dumped a freshly-baked pan of cookies on top of his freshly-cleaned clothes and stomped up and down on them.

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The worst was the time I tried to barricade myself in our bedroom. After sweating and straining to move his nightstand in front of the door, he pushed his way in. When I made a run for the great outdoors, he wrestled me to the floor and carried me back to the bedroom.

I kept fighting him, my hair dripping with my tears, my body weak but my adrenaline pumping.


At one point, my tooth got chipped, and my lip bloodied. The ironic part? He was trying to keep me safe. He didn't want me driving my car while angry, because he was afraid I'd hurt myself.

We haven't had a bad scene like that for quite some time now. I put myself back on Lexapro for a while. Then, after the PMDD diagnosis, I realized that switching to Yaz (a birth control pill that is also supposed to help with PMDD) was sufficient for managing my wild mood swings. I kept a bottle of Xanax in my top dresser drawer for emergencies.

Then, I decided to have a baby.

This, of course, required going off birth control, the one thing that was keeping me sane. 


I've been off my Yaz for a couple of months now. The depression has already crept back. Last week, I picked a fight with my mom, became ridiculously emotional, and then wandered about in a week-long depressive haze. This past weekend, I was also feeling blue. I played the recluse and cried quietly to myself on and off. I didn't touch the Xanax.

Becoming a mother terrifies me for a number of reasons. Will our child be healthy? Will we have enough money? Will I know what to do? Will I be as good a mom as mine was (and is)?

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But my struggles with depression scare me on a whole other level:


Will I be able to manage my mood swings sans medication?

The Yaz is obviously not an option and, while there are conflicting studies about the adverse effects of antidepressants on one's unborn child, I'm trying to go without for now. But will being self-aware be enough?

Will the emotional stress I place upon myself affect the baby?

While certain SSRIs have been shown to have negative effects on the fetus, high levels of stress can also adversely affect the baby and complicate the pregnancy.

Will I suffer from postpartum depression?

My obstetrician says that pregnancy may cause my hormones to flip-flop, making me saner than I've ever been before. But I can't help asking myself, "What if...?" 

Will I be even more insufferable than I am now?

My husband knows how to handle me better than anyone else. When we fight, he suggests we sit down and do a reflective listening exercise. When I'm sad, he is relentlessly goofy. I constantly worry, however, that—one day—I'll drive him away


For now, both my obstetrician and psychopharmacologist have suggested that I play things by ear. 

Have you ever had to deal with similar circumstances? How did you reconcile the needs of your child with your own mental and emotional needs?

RELATED: 5 Truths About The Crushing Darkness Of Postpartum Depression


Steph Auteri is a freelance writer and editor. She's overshared about her life in Playgirl, Time Out New York, American Curves, New York Press, Nerve, and other publications.