5 Things Pregnant Women Should Understand About Anxiety During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can bring about many hormonal changes along with lifestyle and physical changes. This can cause women to begin to experience anxiety, even if they have not suffered from it before. However, if you have suffered from anxiety or depression before pregnancy, it is more likely that you will experience more severe anxiety or depression during pregnancy. Below are a few things that you should understand about pregnancy and anxiety if you think you may be experiencing pregnancy-related anxiety. 

Pregnancy Symptoms Can Stimulate Anxiety 

Pregnancy can cause many worries for parents, including financial concern, stress over work, and thoughts about the future. Additionally, the physical symptoms of pregnancy can mimic the physical symptoms of anxiety, tricking your body into believing you are stressed, even if you are not worried about anything.

For example, reduced lung capacity as the uterus grows can cause shortness of breath, and physical discomfort can cause insomnia. Extra blood volume can cause your heart to work harder, creating heart palpitations at times, and swelling can cause numbness in the hands and feet. All of these symptoms can trick your body into thinking it is experiencing anxiety, which can then lead to an actual panic attack or increased anxiety. It is important to realize that even if you do not feel stressed, these physical changes can still trigger anxiety. 

It Is Normal to Feel Some Anxiety During Pregnancy 

Being concerned about the future is a normal reaction to pregnancy. However, if your anxiety interferes with daily activities such as work or socializing, it may be a sign of a more serious condition. Just because some anxiety is normal does not mean that you have to suffer with anxiety throughout your entire pregnancy. If your anxiety concerns you or your partner, you should seek help. 

It Is Important to Monitor Your Anxiety and Get Help If It Becomes Serious 

If you begin experiencing pregnancy-related anxiety, you should monitor your condition. You can do this by keeping a journal and writing down any time you have a panic attack or extreme feelings of anxiety. Additionally, you may want to record your sleeping patterns and physical symptoms you exhibit. You can share this journal with your OB during your monthly exams to determine if professional help is needed.  

Continual Therapy Throughout Your Pregnancy May Be the Best Treatment for Pregnant Women 

Various forms of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, can be successful in helping individuals to control and limit their anxiety. For a pregnant woman, therapy is a preferred choice of treatment because it does not involve medications that may pass to the fetus. Therapy may involve identifying negative thought patterns that stimulate an anxious response as well as learning a variety of relaxation techniques to help you control your anxiety throughout your pregnancy. 

Therapy for anxiety is usually effective after a few months, meaning many people may be able to stop therapy once they develop the tools they need to deal with their anxiety. However, if you start therapy for anxiety during pregnancy, you may want to continue it after the birth of your baby, as your hormone levels, lifestyle, and physique will all change again. 

Some Medications Can Be Prescribed to Help Control Your Anxiety 

Prescribing anti-anxiety medication during pregnancy involves weighing the risk of continued anxiety against the risks of the medication. In general, your treating physician may prefer that you try therapy or a very low dose of medication before trying a higher dose of medication. However, there are options that will allow you to control your anxiety enough to get the therapeutic help you need. 

Contact a counselor who specializes in anxiety therapy for additional advice.