Every year it seems more and more women are diagnosed with depression. While depression is a debilitating condition to live with on a daily basis, it can downright brutal when the woman is pregnant — and depression during pregnancy is becoming all the more common. In fact, according to research by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as many as 14 to 23 percent of women will combat depression while they are pregnant.

Women are generally advised not to take SSRI antidepressant medications like Paxil and Effexor while they are pregnant because of an increased risk of birth defects occurring to their babies. Some of the birth defects that SSRIs like Paxil and Effexor can cause include cleft palate, neural tube defects, PPHN and heart, brain and lung defects. Regardless of those birth defects risks, many doctors will still prescribe SSRI medications if the depression symptoms described are severe enough, and if the patient asks them to.

This is alarming since some of those women don’t fully understand the serious potential consequences the drugs can have on their babies when they ask for it; and worse still, some women may not know that they are pregnant when they ask. This is very dangerous since the risk of birth defects to the fetus is at its highest point during the first trimester of pregnancy. This is why doctors should require women of childbearing age to take a pregnancy test before prescribing those SSRI medications like Paxil or Effexor.

If you are wondering why a doctor would still prescribe potentially dangerous SSRI medications to a pregnant woman even when they know the risks the drugs pose on the baby, a statement made by the FDA earlier this year during an updated warning announcement may hold the answer. The FDA basically stated that in some cases, the benefits of continuing to take the drugs may outweigh the potential risk to the fetus.