Anxiety Attacks While Pregnant

Anxiety Attacks While Pregnant

Women experience different hormonal and body changes when pregnant, from nausea and vomiting to dizziness, diarrhea, anxiety, etc.

While most others are paid special attention, anxiety is often trivialized as though unimportant. 

The pregnant mother lives in a very delicate state, with the presence of a whole human being growing inside her, making all spheres of her health very important.

This being said, how then can women manage anxiety attacks while pregnant?

The best way to handle anxiety attacks while pregnant is first to make sure it doesn't happen or at least its chances of occurring are reduced i.e., avoiding it.

This can be achieved by sticking to proper nutrition and avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and smoking.

Anxiety attacks while pregnant can also be managed by talking to friends and family or trusted associates.

It helps calm the mind and, at times, gives reassurances. 

Available Anxiety Counselors

Felicia Gray, MS, LPCC

Becoming a better you!

Pueblo, Colorado

(719) 696-3439

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear, which can be persistent or irregular. 

Everyone gets anxious once in a while, but we manage it better than ourselves. 

Extreme cases of anxiety can also lead to panic attacks, which can be very scary.

Anxiety attacks while pregnant aren't strange, though. 

They are more common in pregnancies than we know. It is almost synonymous. 

Some women who have never experienced serious anxiety will most likely have anxiety attacks when they become pregnant.

At times, it is a result of the overwhelming remarks and feelings from people (not necessarily bad comments). 

How To Identify Anxiety Attacks While Pregnant?

Some degree of fear or worry is natural when pregnant; let's face it, that's two human beings in 1 body. 

Especially if it is the first time, past occurrences such as miscarriages, stillbirths, etc., may give reasons for concern too. 

These worries, when allowed to blossom and flourish, can easily trigger anxiety attacks while pregnant. 

The symptoms are no different from a regular anxiety attack at any other time, and they include:

  • Anxiousness beyond the control
  • Poor sleeping pattern
  • Chest pain
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Worrying excessively
  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Dizziness
  • Not enjoying things that used to make you happy
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hyperventilation (rapid breathing)
  • Easily irritated
  • Agitation

Researchers believe that women who have a history of anxiety attacks tend to experience anxiety attacks while pregnant.

Interestingly, while women who have zero records of anxiety attacks in their lives may experience them when pregnant, some women with a history of anxiety attacks may find that it subsides when they are pregnant.

How To Identify Panic Attacks?

Subsequently, a series of anxiety attacks can lead to panic attacks. Usually, it will start very suddenly with most of the symptoms above and progress. 

During a panic attack, the symptoms are often physical, making the feeling aggravated and somewhat extreme.

Identifying panic attacks:

Feeling out of breath or not being able to breathe well.

Feeling like one is going crazy.

Feeling extremely fearful in anticipation of something very terrible happening.

What are the Causes of Anxiety During Pregnancy?

Having anxiety attacks while pregnant can be a result of various things. Examples include;

  • Underlying Health Issue: It can be happening because of an underlying health issue the person has. Examples include diabetes, thyroid problems, or chronic pain. Anxiety can be hereditary, running in the family, and passed down from parent to offspring.
  • Fear of giving Birth: Anxiousness can stem from the fear of giving birth. Perhaps, the person has heard some terrible or scary delivery room story. Of course, such knowledge will have some impact on the mental state of the pregnant woman.
  • Stress: There is a reason why pregnant women are advised against things that will stress them too much. If a pregnant woman finds herself in a stressful situation at home, work, or maybe marital problems, relationship problems, difficulty with a task at work, or financial troubles, it will impact other things in her body too much.
  • In some cases, pregnancy can trigger anxiety attacks.

What are the Risk Factors for Anxiety While Pregnant?

These are special need-to-know information that can pre-inform a pregnant person about the level of anxiety attack risk they might be in. Hence, special attention should be paid to them.

  • Past diagnosis of an anxiety disorder.
  • History of Pregnancy anxiety.
  • History of poor fertility and or pregnancy loss.
  • Complicated Pregnancy.
  • Age or experience (those new to pregnancy are more liable to have anxiety compared to older pregnant women).
  • Previous trauma.
  • Drug abuse.


Treating Anxiety Attacks While Pregnant 

The majority of the drugs prescribed to control/manage anxiety belong to the same class as antidepressants, which can be risky for pregnant women to use.

A critical check should be conducted to ensure that the prescribed drugs will not have adverse effects on the mother or the baby. 

On the safe side, there are anxiety treatment drugs considered relatively safe, but whoever will be using has to be in consult with their doctor to determine the right one to use to avoid bringing harm to themselves or the pregnancy.

Treating Anxiety Attacks While Pregnant (Without Medication) 

Beyond using medication to treat anxiety attacks while pregnant, several other means can be employed. Usually, therapy sessions with an expert psychologist, will try and find out the reasons or triggers of the anxiety attacks and develop a plan to alleviate them. Furthermore, there is anxiety alleviating techniques that can be practiced and used to manage the attacks. They are listed below;

  • Sleep more: Research has shown that one of the triggers of anxiety is poor sleeping. Therefore it is advised that pregnant women get 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily.
  • Eat whole, fresh foods. Proper nutrition is very vital to the general well-being of the body, so it comes as no surprise that it is highly recommended to eat well when trying to manage anxiety attacks.
  • Stay active. In as little as 8 minutes, a walk does wonders for the body. It helps with blood circulation and regulates many other things in the body. Pregnancy should not be an excuse for redundancy.
  • Read up: Learning as much as possible about pregnancy and parenting is very essential in managing the changes that come with it. Read books, talk to people, and learn.
  • Prepare your mind: A mental shift has to be made with the reality of pregnancy. One has to be prepared that there's a new normal which isn't going anytime soon. Changes will come that need to be prepared for, both mentally and physically.
  • Ask your doctor: In all your do, your doctor is one of your closest friends during this period. Ask questions, don't miss your appointments, and keep him/her close.

Conclusion

Anxiety is almost inevitable with pregnancy. It can start very mildly and escalate into panic attacks if not controlled on time. 

Therefore, pregnant women are advised to learn about anxiety attacks before they start happening so as not to endanger their lives and their pregnancy.

Resources 

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December 2nd, 2022