Anxiety During Pregnancy

It’s common to have some concerns and worries about being pregnant, having a healthy child, giving birth, and  parenting your little one. However anxiety during pregnancy can feel overwhelming sometimes.

1. Even though we don’t hear as much about anxiety disorders in pregnancy, they’re actually more common than depression.Estimates of anxiety disorders vary greatly. Researchers have found that 5 to 16 percent of women struggle with an anxiety disorder during pregnancy or postpartum.

2. Untreated anxiety holds risks for both mom and baby. Severe, prolonged, or incapacitating anxiety can be harmful and needs to be addressed.

For instance, research has shown that moms-to-be with clinical anxiety are at increased risk for postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.

While the above findings may stress you out even more, the good news is that anxiety during pregnancy is treatable. But obstetricians don’t regularly screen for anxiety. If you’re struggling with anxiety or anxious thoughts, it’s very important to talk to your obstetrician.

If your obstetrician doesn’t appear to be knowledgeable about anxiety disorders or dismisses your concerns, find another doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment. For instance, you might make an appointment with a mental health professional specializing in women’s mental health or a psychiatrist. Below is a list on how to find help.

3. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps to treat anxiety during pregnancy. Research has established that CBT is highly effective for anxiety disorders. But very little research has been done on CBT in pregnant women. One study found that CBT reduced anxiety in pregnancy and improvements lasted postpartum.

4. Taking medication during pregnancy may be OK. Antidepressants– specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — and benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders and have been shown to reduce symptoms.

Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether taking these medications during pregnancy harms the baby.

Essentially, some research has shown that medication may lead to adverse effects. But untreated anxiety also has risks. In some cases, moms-to-be do need to take medication. Taking medication is an individual decision that must be thoroughly discussed with your doctor.

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