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November 14th, 2013, 04:13 AM
Franny_C Franny_C is offline
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 1
Hello all,

This is a great website here, and I was interested to find this post after my own (nightmarish!) experience years ago now. I know this is an old thread, but I keep coming back to it, because I worry about people going through what I went through = beating yourself up with a giant guilty sticky endlessly for feeling like like a bad person because you "can't cope"/should be able to do what other people tell you is "best for the baby" when you can't, because you suffer from the crippling, debilitating mental health problem that is anxiety and/or depression and require medication for it. Then, to make it worse, other people make you feel terrible with their - often ill-informed - criticism on websites and chat forums.

Obviously no one ideally wants to be in the position we are in - we'd all love to be able to deal with things with some herbal tea and deep breathing, but that isn't the reality for people with problems as severe as ours sadly.

Right, for what it's worth, this is my story: I was on valium throughout my pregnancy until towards the end when I was able to come off - so I took it first trimester included. I initially tried to go cold turkey and come off completely when I found out I was pregnant, and honestly felt like I was going to die. There is no other way to describe it. If anyone is reading this considering valium as an option for dealing with anxiety, my advice would be don't go there if anything else works for you keeping your anxiety and panic attacks to manageable levels. It is highly addictive and the withdrawal is horrific. Your doctor will be able to suggest all the other options for you. Anyway, back to what happened to me. I found out I was pregnant, panicked and as I said tried to come off completely - like so many of you being scared witless by things I had found on the Internet and also then being called "evil" and similar by charming people on chat forums when I was posting desperate for help and advice. So, realising I could not just come off my valium, I tapered down initially to 10 mg a day and then 5 mg, 2mg down to 1mg and finally off the stuff gradually from there by the end of my pregnancy. My daughter is now 8 years old and completely fine for what it's worth.

I have suffered from chronic anxiety and panic disorder my entire adult life from my early teens (I am about to turn 40 now), and anyone who criticises you on the issues discussed anywhere in this thread does not understand what it is like to live with these conditions on a daily basis. They may claim to know what anxiety or depression is like, but they don't. Give yourself a giant pat on the back if you made it out of the house today.

Seems I cannot uses links here, but you might find the articles on "How to treat anxiety symptoms" and "Psychiatric disorders during pregnancy" useful from the MGH Center for Women's Health.

Of particular relevance is this section:

"Anti-Anxiety Medications

The consequences of prenatal exposure to benzodiazepines have been debated for over twenty years. Three prospective studies support the absence of increased risk of organ malformation following first trimester exposure to benzodiazepines. More controversial has been the issue of whether first trimester exposure to benzodiazepines increases risk for specific malformations. Although initial reports suggested that there may be an increased risk of cleft lip and palate, more recent reports have shown no association between exposure to benzodiazepines and risk for cleft lip or palate. This risk– if it exists — is calculated to be 0.7%, approximately a ten-fold increase in risk for oral cleft over that observed in the general population. Nonetheless, the likelihood that a woman exposed to benzodiazepines during the first trimester will give birth to a child with this congenital anomaly, although significantly increased, remains less than 1%.

Currently, no systematic data are available on the reproductive safety of non-benzodiazepine anxiolytic agents such as buspirone and hypnotic agents zolpidem (Ambien) and zalepion (Sonata). Therefore, these medications are not recommended for use in pregnancy."

Read the section on categorisation of drugs as it is really interesting. The gist of everything seems to me to be that the risk to the baby from valium or similar drug usage, must be weighed up against the risk to the baby (and to the mother) of the effects of her coming off medication. The scientific evidence appears to show that the risks to the unborn baby from a mother who may be drug-free but stressed out of her mind with anxiety and panic because of it, may be more significant in terms out outcome - premature, underweight birth and other things.

Best of luck and most of all be kind to yourself to anyone who is reading this and struggling.
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