Selena Gomez has put “a lot of hard work” into accepting and managing her bipolar disorder, but parts of that reality still sting years after her diagnosis.
The 30-year-old singer and actress reflected on her wish to have children and how that might look different than she imagined, given her need for psychiatric medication.
She described visiting a friend who was trying to get pregnant and crying in her car afterward, because she’s unlikely to go through that experience herself.
Gomez said she’s on two medications to manage her bipolar symptoms, and she doesn’t plan to stop taking them to conceive a child. Still, she said she hopes to be a parent someday.
Although it’s possible to get pregnant and breastfeed safely while taking psychiatric medication, some drugs used to treat bipolar disorder have been associated with an increased risk of birth defects, psychiatrist Fabiano Gomes told Insider.
He’s treated many women with bipolar disorder, some of whom stopped taking their medication immediately upon learning they were pregnant — which he said is “the last thing you should do,” especially for bipolar disorder.
It’s possible to manage bipolar disorder while pregnant
Bipolar disorder is typically treated with mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, or a combination of the two, said Gomes, an assistant professor in the mood disorders program at McMaster University.
Newer antipsychotic medications may be used to treat both the highs and lows of bipolar I, a disorder characterized by severe episodes of mania and depression. But Gomes said documentation of side effects is somewhat limited for newer drugs.
However, if someone is open to switching to a different medication or tapering off for the duration of pregnancy, Gomes recommends doing so under the supervision of a psychiatrist or physician.
Pregnancy may also increase the risk of a manic or depressive episode for people with bipolar disorder, especially if they choose to stop taking their medication, according to the MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health. Closely monitoring mental health during pregnancy is vital for these patients.