Pregnant Women Face Special Issues in Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

If you’re a woman with bipolar disorder who is pregnant or who plans to have children, you’re probably concerned about the effects pharmaceutical treatment for bipolar disorder can have on your unborn baby. While recent research has shown that the risk of birth defects among pregnant women taking bipolar medication is much smaller than previously thought, you may nevertheless wonder if it’s best to discontinue pharmaceutical treatment for bipolar disorder during your pregnancy for the good of your child.

The symptoms of bipolar disorder vary in severity from one person to the next, and there’s no one answer for a woman wondering how to manage pregnancy and bipolar disorder. However, while discontinuing your medication may eliminate the risk of medication-related birth defects, it will significantly raise your risk of experiencing a bipolar relapse. Your mental illness could have developmental ramifications for your baby both before and after birth.

Bipolar Medication and Birth Defect Risk

In the past, medications like lithium, which are used for the treatment of bipolar disorder, were believed to cause life-threatening or disabling birth defects in a large percentage of babies born to bipolar mothers – in the 1970s, lithium was believed to cause birth defects in 1 in 50 babies born to mothers taking the medication. Newer research has discovered that the risk is more like 1 in 1,000 to 2,000. Other medications administered as treatment for bipolar disorder are considered even more dangerous for developing babies than lithium, like valproic acid, carbemazepine and lamotrigine, which can cause spina bifida, cleft palate and other birth defects. Because of the smaller risk of birth defects with lithium, doctors recommend women with bipolar disorder who want to get pregnant switch to lithium before conceiving.

Risks of Discontinuing Pharmaceutical Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Though the risk of birth defects for pregnant women taking lithium is small, it’s still too much risk for many pregnant women managing bipolar disorder. However, a pregnant woman with bipolar disorder is almost certain to experience a relapse of bipolar symptoms if she discontinues her medication during pregnancy – relapse rates among bipolar women who stop taking their medication during pregnancy can be as high as 70 percent. Pregnancy is a high-stress time; the anxiety and sleep disruptions associated with carrying a child and giving birth can easily trigger a bipolar relapse.

The prospect of a bipolar relapse during pregnancy threatens the well-being and even the life of both mother and child. Women who discontinue pharmaceutical treatment for bipolar disorder during pregnancy spend an average of 40 percent of their pregnancies experiencing illness symptoms. A woman who is experiencing a depressive episode is less likely to practice the good self-care necessary for the unborn baby’s health and development. Such a mother-to-be is even vulnerable to suicide. Women who discontinue treatment for bipolar disorder during pregnancy are also 100 times more likely than women without bipolar disorder to experience postpartum psychosis, which can even lead to infanticide.

Managing Pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder

While many women with bipolar disorder choose to stop taking their medications before conception or after they discover they’re pregnant, psychiatrists don’t recommend this, especially for women with severe psychiatric symptoms. If you stop taking your bipolar medications during pregnancy and experience a severe recurrence of symptoms, you may need to take even higher doses of medication to bring your symptoms back under control. And the higher your dosages, the higher your risk of birth defects.

Lithium has the fewest risks for pregnant mothers and babies, though it’s important to make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid lithium toxicity. Your doctor will want to monitor your blood carefully for high lithium levels, especially during and right after your delivery. Your baby’s blood will also need to be tested for high lithium levels. If you choose to breastfeed, lithium is secreted in milk; your baby’s blood will need to be monitored for high lithium levels if you choose to breastfeed after birth. Your doctor may also recommend a first-generation or second-generation antipsychotic medication, which is not believed to cause birth defects, or receive ECT treatment for bipolar disorder during pregnancy.

If you are taking valproic acid or carbemazepine, you should switch to a safer medication before you conceive. If you find out you’re pregnant while still taking valproic acid, you may want to break down your single daily dose into several daily doses to reduce the risk of side effects. Your doctor may also recommend a vitamin K supplement.

Managing bipolar disorder and pregnancy is challenging, but not impossible. If you have questions about receiving bipolar disorder treatment while pregnant, call 888-415-0708 to set up an appointment with our psychiatrist.

A Mental Health Crisis Grips America – Our Delray Beach Psychiatrists Can Help

Perhaps the worst mistake a suffering person can make is to internalize his or her pain, hiding it from the world –family, friends, even his or herself. While great social strides are being made in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues, particularly here in Florida, with the emergence of mental health initiatives like Project LAUNCH. Initiatives like these, in tandem with our own Delray Beach psychiatrists practice, promote mental well-being and help meet the need for mental health services in Delray Beach.

Personal Answers, Personal Guidance By Our Delray Beach Psychiatrists

If you need help, seek it. While physical infirmity or illness is plain to see, emotional or mental difficulties lie beneath the surface and can remain undetected for months or years. Our Delray Beach psychiatrists combine kindness and empathy with a deep understanding of complex personal problems.

Top-Notch Psychiatric Care in South Florida

Locals struggling with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction or other mental health symptoms would do well to seek the services of our Delray Beach psychiatrists. But our mental health services aren’t limited to locals. People come to Delray Beach from all over the nation and the world to seek a haven for addiction and mental illness recovery. Regain your mental health in sunny South Florida with help from our mental health care provider in Delray Beach.

Depression and anxiety rank amongst the most common ailments afflicting Americans today. According to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America anxiety disorders are the most common illness Americans face in 2014, with 18 percent of the population affected. Anxiety disorders cost the federal coffers more than $42 billion each year. That’s the price of lost productivity and anxiety-related substance abuse.

Our Delray Beach psychiatrists see these statistics borne out right here in our own community. Anxiety and depression are commonplace in the modern world, which is plagued with violence and uncertainty and awash in drugs and alcohol.

Do You Really Need Help from A Delray Beach Psychiatrists?

If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety or addiction, trying to beat your problems on your own is dangerous. But you don’t have to do it alone. Asking for help is scary, but it’s the most important first step toward getting the care you need.

Why don’t people ask for help? There are a number of reasons.


  • Stigma. Despite ongoing efforts to destigmatize mental health issues, plenty of people who struggle with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorder, addiction and other mental health issues out of shame or embarrassment.
  • Uncertainty. Many people just aren’t sure whether their symptoms warrant getting therapy. They don’t realize that they don’t need to wait until their symptoms become severe to see our Delray Beach psychiatrists. Or maybe they just don’t know where to turn for help.
  • Lack of resources. Time, money and energy are all resources that some people just don’t have. If you can’t afford therapy, or don’t have the time to fit in an appointment, or the energy to get out of bed and dressed, our mental health services in Delray Beach won’t do you much good.
  • Well-meaning loved ones. Your friends and family might mean well when they reassure you that your mental health symptoms are a just a phase and that they will pass. But they, too, lack a proper understanding of the realities of mental illness.

Research shows that treatment can bring remarkable improvement in mental health symptoms even for people suffering from severe mental illness. But if you don’t seek help, you’re putting yourself at risk. Many of the people who end up seeking the services of our Delray Beach psychiatrists have self-medicated with drugs and alcohol so thoroughly that they’re now struggling with a raging addiction on top of the original problem.

While support networks are the most important part of any recovery from addiction, mental health issues or eating disorders, there’s no substitute for a credentialed psychiatrist. Expertise is so crucial when it comes to the delicate and complex human consciousness.

When you’re struggling, you need to know that there are so many people and resources at your disposal to help. It can take a great deal more courage to pick up the phone and make that first call for help than to simply ignore the problem and wait for it to go away on its own. But addiction and mental illness aren’t problems that will eventually solve themselves.

To get the help of highly qualified Delray Beach psychiatrists and mental health specialists, call 888-415-0708 today.

Delray Beach Psychiatrists Help You Address the Underlying Causes of Your Addiction

The Delray Therapeutic Model puts you in touch with Delray Beach psychiatrists who can help you with your addiction and its unseen causes. Often, psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety and eating disorders contribute to addiction. Substance use, abuse and eventually addiction often appear alongside depression, anxiety and eating disorders as a means of coping and self-medication.

It’s dangerous and ineffective to overlook your underlying psychiatric conditions when addressing your addiction to drugs or alcohol. Our Delray Beach psychiatrists focus on helping you overcome your addiction and cope with any depression, anxiety or disordered eating that may be contributing to your problem. Many drug and alcohol addiction therapy programs don’t address psychiatric symptoms that may have contributed to your addiction all along. At the Delray Model, we understand that using therapy to address your psychiatric concerns is an important, even vital, part of the recovery process.
Depression is one of the most common psychiatric illnesses and a huge contributor to addiction. If you’re depressed, you might start using drugs or alcohol for the feelings of happiness they seem to bring. When you’re suffering from depression, you’re at an increased risk for addiction if you seek to relieve your symptoms with addictive substances. The Delray model will treat your addiction and address your depression with the expertise of Delray Beach psychiatrists and antidepressants. Delray Beach psychiatrists begin your treatment with an evaluation to determine if you’re depressed and assess the severity of your symptoms.

Anxiety is another common mental illness that’s often found to contribute to addiction. Unhealthy levels of anxiety are a huge catalyst for substance abuse, addiction and relapse, because for many people, anxiety is too uncomfortable to be borne. Our Delray Beach psychiatrists will combine effective anxiety treatment with addiction treatment for your best possible outcome.

Eating disorders in men and women are associated with body image issues. Addiction to substances that cause weight loss is common. Our special Delray Beach psychiatrists offer programs for eating-disordered addicts led by specialists in disordered eating. Our therapists and Delray Beach psychiatrists will help you deal with the body image issues that may emerge once you stop using substances to control your weight.