If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, you might be taking antidepressants to help manage your symptoms. If you’ve been thinking about being a gestational carrier, you might be wondering how your medication may affect your ability to become a surrogate. Many surrogacy professionals have mental and physical health requirements for being a gestational carrier. Some require that surrogates abstain from their antidepressants for up to 12 months.

Can I be a Surrogate if I Have Depression or a History of Depression?

As mentioned, many women who have been diagnosed with depression or have a history of depression can treat their condition effectively with antidepressants. But, if you’re not on antidepressants right now, whether or not you can proceed with surrogacy will depend on a few factors.

First, know this: Surrogacy is an emotionally complicated journey. Even though surrogates are fully screened and prepared for the challenges and risks, there may be unexpected developments during your surrogacy journey. Having a solid state of mind will help you cope with those surprises and tough moments. But, if you have an untreated depression diagnosis or your depression comes back in the middle of your pregnancy, you can put yourself, the intended parents and the baby you carry in danger.

For this reason, if you have a history of serious depression or a current depression diagnosis, it’s unlikely that you will be able to be a gestational carrier.

Sometimes, a woman’s history of depression stems from a specific situation: pregnancy and postpartum recovery. Postpartum depression is far more common than you may know. If you’re in the 15 percent of women who experience depression after giving birth, you may be worried that this history will disqualify you from being a surrogate. You may ask, “Can I be a surrogate with a history of depression, even if it’s postpartum-related?”

The answer will depend upon the policy of the surrogacy professional you choose to work with. Many surrogacy professionals will waive concerns of depression if it is postpartum related. Every prospective surrogate undergoes a psychological evaluation prior to being approved, and a mental health professional will talk to you about your concerns and mental health history during this screening. If your history of depression (whether pregnancy-related or not) have been successfully treated and you’re not longer using antidepressants, it’s very likely that you will be able to proceed with your surrogacy journey.

Can I Be a Surrogate if I Take Antidepressants?

If you are a prospective surrogate treating your depression diagnosis with antidepressants, you may think you’ll be able to move forward. After all, your depression is being effectively treated, and you are mentally prepared for the challenges and rewards awaiting you as a gestational carrier.

However, you cannot be a surrogate if you’re on antidepressants. Surrogacy professionals will often require you to be off antidepressant and antianxiety medication for at least 12 months prior to starting the surrogacy process — and for good reason.

While it’s important for a woman to balance her mental health needs with the needs of her pregnancy, this balance shifts when you are carrying a child for someone else. Intended parents go through a lot before coming to surrogacy; they’ve often spent months or years trying other infertility treatments before choosing this family-building path. Therefore, they want the best chance of success possible. That means a healthy gestational carrier who can give them the best opportunity to have a child safely and successfully.

A woman treating her depression diagnosis with antidepressants often can’t provide that. While there is some evidence that antidepressants don’t cause birth defects in babies, about 30 percent of babies whose mothers take antidepressants experience neonatal adaptation syndrome. Any medication can be a risk to a developing baby, and women who take antidepressants regularly can expose the child they carry to risks that a woman not on antidepressants doesn’t.

For many intended parents, the risks and unknowns of using a gestational carrier on antidepressants is too much. For that reason, many surrogacy agencies and fertility clinics will disqualify prospective surrogates who are taking antidepressants.

But, before you go to throw away your medication in an effort to reach your surrogacy dreams, remember that you should never make changes to your depression treatment without talking to your doctor — no matter how badly you want to be a gestational carrier. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to your surrogacy application, even if it means you cannot be a surrogate if you’re on antidepressants. No matter how great your desire to be a surrogate, you must put your own needs first.

Remember: The information in this article is not intended to be and should not be taken as medical advice. Please speak with your doctor if you are considering surrogacy with a history of depression.

Interested in learning more about surrogacy at Hellobaby Surrogacy? Check out our parents page for information about becoming a parent through surrogacy or our surrogate page to learn about becoming a surrogate! You can also follow along on our Facebook and Twitter as we share updates, resources, and client stories daily!

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