19 answers

Safe Anti-anxiety Medication While Breastfeeding?

I am going to see a doctor on Monday to possibly start taking an anti-anxiety medication. I have pretty bad anxiety and have for my entire life. I am also currently taking an anti-depressant. I've been anxious for so long that I don't know what it feels like to be "normal" without constantly worrying about everything. It has been pretty stressful for me lately with an 11 month old and a 19 month old at home. I'm hoping to make it through this ok. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Also, does anyone know of an anti-anxiety medication that is safe to take while breastfeeding?

Thanks if advance for all the help :)

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for the great advice, suggestions and stories.

I went to the Dr. today and I decided to go with an anti-anxiety medication. I am optimistic about the medicine and I know that since I'm combining it with regular therapy sessions my prognosis is positive.

Feel free to message me if you have any questions or just want to chat.

Again, thank you.

~K. :)

Featured Answers

Hi K.,
Most of the anti-anxiety meds (SSRIs) are fine; the one with the longest record of safe use while breastfeeding is Zoloft. You could Google Tom Hale and medications and breastfeeding; he is a pharmacist and researcher who specializes in meds for breastfeeding mothers, and he has website access for moms with questions. You will be perfectly fine taking these meds and breastfeeding.
E.

Hi K.,

I agree with the suggestion for Rescue Remedy first. It's made by a company called Bach Essense and is amazing. I know if you haven't had experience with homeopathy that you might be skeptical. It's certainly worth trying before taking a perscription with side effects.

I also have had anxiety for most of my life. I have had bouts in my life that has caused it to be more severe, but to the extreme where driving would cause such anxiety that I would start to hyperventilate and nearly pass out before pulling over. Just an example.

Any time I've had anxiety issues the past 8 years or so, I just take a few drops of the Rescue Remedy under my tongue and it almost immediately calms me down. Because it is all herbal homeopathic ingredients suspended in alcohol, it is completely safe to take while breastfeeding.

More Answers

Hi K.!

I hear ya on the anxiety front. Unfortunately, I recently had my first battle with some pretty serious anxiety. But...I did find some very helpful things to share with you! First of all, I come from a family who practices more natural medicine and homeopathy, so hopefully you're open to trying these! I used something called Rescue Remedy (you can look it up on the internet) and you can get it at Fred Meyer. It's used for all sorts of situations including anxiety and really helped me initially. It comes in an easy to use spray that you spray into your mouth and helps calm you down a bit during anxious situations. Also, what helped most for me was a remedy (which is a homeopathic medicine) called Aconitum Napellus. You can buy it at most health food stores or natural markets. Just ask where the homeopathic remedies are and look for this one. I took a strength of 2 tablets of 200C but most stores sell strengths of 30-60C. Do a bit of research online for "homeopathy and anxiety". You might find some useful information.

Anyway, I had almost immediate relief of my anxiety and it has been much better for about 2 weeks now! I am so thankful!!

Best of luck to you,
H.

1 mom found this helpful

This reminds me of the safety instructions you get on an airplane when they say to put your oxygen mask on first before tending to others. You must be in a good place mentally to really give your children the environment they deserve.

You need to choose what benefits your family more- your calmness and peace of mind or continuing to nurse your child. There are many good, quality formulas out there for babies today.

You can try to take a medication to help, but there are simply not enough studies completed to show whether or not it will affect your child.

This is a tough decison, but you really need to save yourself first and by doing that, your children will benefit even more.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't know about the medication and breastfeeding (your doctor will be able to tell you), but the psalms (from the Bible) have always helped me with anxiety, Psalm 91 especially. They help me remember that there's a great big world out there that's not going to stop running if I screw up because it's not in my hands, and quite simply, God knows exactly what He's doing, and it's always good. I also try to keep my television viewing to a minimum because it introduces so many worrisome ideas into my mind. I get my news from the Internet instead, and I use some of my erstwhile tv time for prayer and remembering that for everything I could worry about, there is also a positive possibility. Since I took these measures, I've been able to put away my acid reflux medication, and I don't have half as much tension in my shoulders.

Hi K.,

When I was pregnant, I was taking Vistoril. I had to take 2 every six hours to even feel a dent in my anxiety. However, I deal with a neuroligical problem in my feet and legs that caused extreme pain, so that added to the anxiety. I didn't breastfeed my daughter because of the pain I was in. I was in a wheelchair for the last 2 months of my pregnancy and then for 2 months after that. So, I honestly don't know if I could have taken the Vistoril after she was born if I would have been nursing. You could check with your Doctor though.

Keep your chin up, you will get through this. I agree with the last comment, you need to be open and honest about your feelings. If you hold them in at all, you will never beat this. Our bodies aren't meant to hold in that much stress. Take care of yourself and congratulations on your little one.

Hi K. - I too suffer from anxiety and depression. When I had my first son, back about 4 years ago, I was told that Prozac was one of the safest to take while breastfeeding, and I tried that but did not like it and went off. I tried some others too and they did not work well for treating my anxiety.
This time, I took Lexapro and that helped me a lot, but it is not as "safe" or recommended as some others are. There is a number that you can call( I dont know where you live)that will get you to the University of Washington help-line and they can tell you about the medicine you are taking and can tell you if it is safe, safer or safest as far as "levels" go for breastfeeding. Some medicine transfers more that others in your breastmilk and they can tell you what that is. Your OB GYN should be able to get that number for you. I did not have any issues with it as I was also on a pretty low dose of it as well. You might check it out with your doctor, maybe it will work for you too! Good luck and hang in there!

I don't know about medications while breastfeeding but I'm sure your doctor will be able to give you all that information. Anxiety is such a stigmatized disorder and reaching out and getting help is the first big step toward your recovery. To add to a previous post, the book I think the person was referring to is "The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook" (or there could be two different books with similar titles). That book can work wonders and helps you deal with your anxiety from a cognitive behavior standpoint, in other words using your thought process to help you navigate the sensations and overwhelming obsessive thoughts that characterize anxiety. Another wonderful resource which has been around a long time is Claire Weekes' "Hope and Help for Your Nerves". Very insightful and helpful. I have also gotten a lot out of reading John Sarno's books which deal a lot with the mind-body connection but wrt anxiety, his contention is that it is a symptom of repression. If one subconsciously feels that it is simply too scary to explore some deep, unpleasant emotions, the body and mind will create distractions such as back pain, anxiety, on and on to keep the mind focused on anything but the true emotion, usually with origins in your past. Exploring your past and even your present situation (two toddlers is a lot to handle) with a therapist would most likely bring some relief. But often times medication is necessary to get you through a crisis and there is no shame in taking care of yourself so that you can be there for those two little ones. I agree with the previous post, once you start talking about your condition with other women, you start hearing their stories and finding out just how many of us suffer silently either with depression and/or anxiety or are on medication or have been in the past. You are not alone! Women weren't meant to be alone all day with two young children and no aunties and grandmas around to help with chores and to lend an ear. Our modern society has us so isolated and feeling as though we should be strong enough to tackle motherhood alone. Reach out and find some other moms who are in the same situation or perhaps an older neighbor who may be feeling isolated and hang out. When I was going through the peaks of my anxiety, the only things that helped me were reading about anxiety, spirituality, and being with people who were understanding and were willing to just be with me and my kids. Please feel free to e-mail with me at any time if need to "talk". All the best

I am not sure about breastfeeding, but I know my meds were okay if I opted to continue while pregnant. However I did not, and by the grace of God I have been drug free for almost 3 years after suffering from anxiety for 10 years! So I know what you mean by not feeling "normal". Anywho. . .I was on BuSpar and it worked wonderfully for me. the best part is that if you miss a dose you don't feel "wierd" or off balance. If you need someone to talk to or just to listen I am here. I know when I was going through the peak of my anxiety attacks the best way I found to deal with them was to be open and honest with everyone. And I kinda made a joke of it that I was "crazy" and that helped me cope because I am such a control freak. After being open about it I found most of the people around me suffered or had suffered the same thing. And were very understanding. It may social functions sooo much easier! So if I became withdrawn or had to get up and basically run out for air they didn't think I was rude to put it politely. I also saw a therapist. I always thought I was pretty good at sorting out my own life and I knew why I had the idiosynchcrosies (sp?) I had. WRONG! I was wrong on one aspect, because we all like to blame our parents, it was actually my Grandma! Go figure, my parents are laid back and she is the control freak, I got it from her! And my uncle suffers the same way I do as my aunt. Anyway enough about me. My therapist had me get this GREAT book, I could only find it at Barnes and Noble and it is the "Stress and Anxiety Workbook" Worked wonders. And the most important thing I learned . . . An Anxiety Attack is simply a huge rush of adrenaline, find a way to burn that and you can pass though it much quicker. Meds only work so much and for so long. And I know this is hard to believe and you may think I have no idea what I am talking about but. .the more you fight the attack the longer it will last. I spent so much time fighting mine before meds and therapist at my peak right before the meds I was having them so bad for about 3 months before one ended another began! I had been seeing my doc about them off and on for about 3 years and we always talked about it and they would pass (I called them "cycles") But the last time before meds my blood pressure was 220/180! And NO that is NOT a typo. It became apparent I could no longer "work through them". I was now doing severe physical damage and unable to cope. We knew if I was not medicated I could possibly suffer a mini stroke (I also had blood in my ears!) Okay, I am sorry for typing your ears off. I will let you go. If you need any support or just friendly eyes to read your thoughts I am here. Good Luck.

S.

P.S. If anyone else out there reading this has questions or just wants support on this subject feel free to email me. I understand and know how crippling this "disease" can be. People I know told me it would get better and it would eventually pass and I didn't believe them either. But it does and it will.

K., you need to look into natural, herbal remedies for you anxiety. Anything the doctor gives you will go straight to your breastmilk and have unknown consequences for your child. I've dealt with anxiety/depression for about 11 years now, and I've taken Paxil and Zoloft, and I now take a natural supplement. If you are interested, I can tell you more, but first, find a naturopath and/or a holistic counselor to go to. Someone who will NOT push drugs. Check out http://www.southsoundhealers.com to find a directory of people to help you. Contact me if you want more info about what I take.

Hi K., Hang in there, it's hard to have a 19 month old and a 11 week old...and being a stay at home mom...I would guess you don't get a lot of help from family or friends. I've been in your shoes. I had to switch to a stronger anti-depressant through the later part of my breastfeeding to help control the anxiety and depression...and I just had to weigh out the benefits etc. I mean...sane mommy who's not in tears most of the day......or crazy mommy who can't stop crying and doesn't want to get out of bed. The slight chance that a little medication would pass through breast milk seemed minimal at the time..but I did have an older baby....11 weeks is still pretty young.

I would suggest doing some online research then going to a doctor to discuss it. I know personally a lot of the natural anti-anxiety things don't help me. Only through some intensive counseling in combination with some anti anxiety pills have I been able to find a balance..and hopefully not need the anit-anxiety pills forever.

I also want to suggest you look up a MOMs Club in your area...I think a support system might be part of your anxiety (it was for me..I felt very alone and isolated with a baby) being around other moms going through the same thing...could really help you out. good Mom's club....and then your city name....see what's in your area. The dues are like $25 a year...and they have WEEKLY activities like park days, craft days..etc...that they do. Even if you can't afford counseling at this time (that was my hang up for a while) joining a group of other moms might act as that counseling for you.

Then seek out advice from your doctor..there shouls be SOMETHING you can take while breastfeeding that has minimal pass through.

good luck. feel free to private message me anytime. I've been in your shoes...and not going to do the whole...no medication is best speel...because I know that didn't work for me. (I tried).

Try acupuncture. You have had anxiety all your life - that's not normal. It's amazing what acupuncture can help with. Also you may be having some food allergy that is making your body overly stressed that can be causing the anxiety - I know - it happened to me. Acupuncture can also help with emotional trauma.

Acupuncture can be used while pregnant and is much safer than any drug.

I used Zoloft for my anxiety and depression. It is supposed to be one of the safer ones for breast feeding as it is rarely if at all passed into the milk. I had a ton of anxiety too, it is the best one that works for me. Good Luck

Hi K.,

I agree with the suggestion for Rescue Remedy first. It's made by a company called Bach Essense and is amazing. I know if you haven't had experience with homeopathy that you might be skeptical. It's certainly worth trying before taking a perscription with side effects.

I also have had anxiety for most of my life. I have had bouts in my life that has caused it to be more severe, but to the extreme where driving would cause such anxiety that I would start to hyperventilate and nearly pass out before pulling over. Just an example.

Any time I've had anxiety issues the past 8 years or so, I just take a few drops of the Rescue Remedy under my tongue and it almost immediately calms me down. Because it is all herbal homeopathic ingredients suspended in alcohol, it is completely safe to take while breastfeeding.

K.,
I've been in your shoes and could give you a shocking and scary story, but I won't.
I have had anxiety all my life; as early as 5 yrs old. As an adult, I started medications and quit when I got pregnant. Once our son was 1yr old, I went on medication again. Once I began the medication, I stopped nursing.
I STRONGLY believe that ALL medications are bad when breastfeeding. EVERYTHING goes straight to the breastmilk, so not only are you getting it, so is your child. I don't care what doctors try to convince anyone of, I believe NO drug is safe for nursing children.
Here's the BEST advice anyone can give you. It is tried and true to help reduce your symptoms until you are finished breast feeding.
1) Make sure you are drinking at least 50 - 63 oz of water each day. this keeps you hydrated which is a HUGE reason people get anxiety.
2) Eat often and make it healthy. Most people with anxiety forget to eat.
3) Eat fresh home cooked mels. Skip the boxed, already prepared foods and fast foods. Most people with anxiety are sensitive to additives, food colorings and preservatives which increase anxiety.
4) Drink chamomile tea and listen to quiet music. the tea will help to calm you. Baby loves Bach is a good CD and it's great for kids.
What I have found out over a 14+ yr journey with anxiety and depression is that dehydration, food sensivities, lack of sleep and no time for myself have increased the symptoms. Now I am on the right track and am able to take medications because I am not nursing. I eat better now than I ever have in my life and I feel really good.
I wish you the best. If you have more questions, feel free to contact me.
Cheers!

Hi K.,
I have anxiety as well. I take Magnesium supplements. They are a natural relaxer. I take tablets or you can also buy it at a health food store in powder form. You can drink it like a hot tea and it comes in several flavors (raspberry lemon, lemon, orange, plain...). The powder one is called "Calm." The tablets you can get anywhere they sell vitamins. It's great to take at bedtime too. Best of luck!
C.

K.,
There are lots of meds that are compatible with breastfeeding. Call a lactation consultant in the lactation office of your hospital. They are the best qualified and most up to date on medications and breadstfeeding. They will give you honest advise.

If you need meds, take them. I am all for natural remedies, if they work for you. But anyone who has resorted to perscription meds to treat an emotional or "mental" (depression, anxiety, PMS) disorder needs nothing but support for whatever course they take. If the meds help you stable out, then you are more able to make concrete changes and set up a plan for going off the meds. Take care of yourself!

Hi K.,

First of all, it is a relief to know that you are not alone in this. I have been suffering from anxiety since my early twenties and I was ashame to let anyone know about it. I refused to take any medications for fear that it would be habitual so I suffered for many years alone and it was also due to my pride that I thought I could do it without any medications involved.
I was so WRONG and only when I had my daughter that I realized that I was selfish and that being a first time mom I needed help for the sake of my sanity and my first born.
So I was put on Sertraline (generic for zoloft)since my daughter was a few weeks old and I also breastfed. It is safe and boy it took a lot of weight off my shoulders that I am not going insane.
I am so glad I asked for help and my doctor was so understanding. I am looking into meeting moms or ladies that have been in my shoes or still is because talking about it and getting support from people that know exactly where your coming from makes a lot of a difference.

So anyone in the Puyallup area or in the state of Washington I hope to hear from all of you. Take care and god bless. Hang in there K. it will get better and you are definitely not alone in this.

M.

K.,
Your doctor will be able to look up various anxiety medications to see which ones will be safe for you. Prescription drugs have a rating scale that shows their level of safety, so it will be easy for your doctor to check on what is considered safe while breastfeeding. (I've been down that road, too, only during pregnancy.) Also, don't let anyone tell you you're making a bad choice for considering medication. The natural approach works for some people, but it didn't work for me. Only you can decide what's best for you - and your baby - so trust your instincts when it comes to making yourself feel better.

Hi K.,
Most of the anti-anxiety meds (SSRIs) are fine; the one with the longest record of safe use while breastfeeding is Zoloft. You could Google Tom Hale and medications and breastfeeding; he is a pharmacist and researcher who specializes in meds for breastfeeding mothers, and he has website access for moms with questions. You will be perfectly fine taking these meds and breastfeeding.
E.

I could understand how anyone having two young children so close in age could be anxious! I don't personally know a lot about antianxiety medications, but I would urge you to try many other things first - a good support system to help you with the children and help you not feel isolated, and find a good therapist who can help you work through and learn ways to help manage you anxiety. This could be a really good opportunity for you to work through issues from your childhood that have been affecting you for your whole life, so seeing a good therapist now could help you not only with your current anxiety (which is exacerbated by having two young children) but also with your lifelong anxiety. It would be a great gift for youself, your children, and your partner for you to care for yourself in this way. And hopefully you could also be able to stop taking the antidepressant as well. Some good bodywork could be helpful too. As far as social support, there may be one or more support groups you could join, la leche league, parent-infant classes, a playgroup for your older child etc, or I liked the idea another person mentioned, finding older people in the neighborhood who could serve in a supportive grandparent type of role. Maybe someone whose children have moved away and who don't get to see their grandchildren very often, and so would love to give their time and support to you.

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