Pregnancy: I'm worried about my health and the baby, does this mean I have anxiety?

Most women experience anxious thoughts and stress during pregnancy, but if they're intrusive, you may need to seek help

It is common for women to worry when they are pregnant. Agonizing over what you can or cannot eat or drink, what you should or should not do, and so on, is perfectly normal for an expectant mother. It is a period that can be exciting and scary at the same time. However, when this worry becomes intrusive and affects your day-to-day life, it might be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

Some of the symptoms of anxiety disorders during pregnancy are:

  • Persistent worrying thoughts that do not subside

  • Constantly feeling restless, irritable or on edge

  • attacks and pangs of extreme fear that are overwhelming

  • Muscle tension and difficulty staying calm

  • Finding it hard to fall asleep at night

If your worries go beyond simple fretting, and you feel that you are experiencing some of these symptoms, you should consider seeking professional help. Talk to your partner or a family member about meeting a mental health professional.

Given the degree of changes that a woman goes through during pregnancy, both mentally and physically, many women are prone to symptoms of anxiety and depression. Most women are able to cope with these and do not require any intervention. However, for some women it becomes more severe. Some of the risk factors that increase the likelihood of a woman suffering from an anxiety disorder during pregnancy are:

  • Having previously suffered from an anxiety disorder

  • Family history of anxiety disorders

  • Negative experience from a previous pregnancy

  • Excess stress at home or work

This is normal

Possibly an anxiety disorder

Worrying about the health of the baby, whether you’ll be a good parent, financial aspects of having a baby, etc.

When this worry makes it difficult for you to focus on day-to-day life, when you have trouble functioning at work or home, when you stop enjoying doing things you used to enjoy, or you have frequent pangs of fear and panic.

Minor aches due to a few sleepless nights

Frequent palpitations that cause muscle tension and fatigue

 

Treatment

For women who experience mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety, emotional support and some psychotherapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral(CBT) or Interpersonal(IPT), would suffice. These therapies help a person get to the root of why they have such panic-laden thoughts and change their thinking. For more severe symptoms, medication may also be required. Your psychiatrist will prescribe you medication that has the most benefits with fewest risks (low doses and usage only when required).