Anxiety symptoms are relatively common during pregnancy , but are almost always undiagnosed and therefore untreated. A recent study of 2793 women, found that 9.5% of them meet the criteria for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) at some point during pregnancy, therefore, therapy for anxiety in pregnancy should be adopted.
This study indicated that a woman with a history of GAD before pregnancy is more likely to develop generalized anxiety disorders during pregnancy.
Most Common Anxiety Disorders in Pregnancy?
Anxiety disorders are part of a group on mental health conditions . These conditions are categorized together because they all focus on dysfunctional levels of fear, worry, or some other anxiety-based reaction to general or specific circumstances.
Examples of disorders requiring therapy for pregnancy anxiety:
- Panic disorder or syndrome;
- Generalized anxiety disorder;
- Social anxiety disorder;
- Specific phobia;
- Separation anxiety disorders;
Two other conditions – post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – have been classified as anxiety disorders, although they now have their own individual diagnostic categories.
Pregnant women develop symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and panic syndrome almost whenever they develop symptoms of depression or other forms of depressive illness.
In addition, pregnant women who need anxiety therapy during pregnancy almost always develop symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder as often as they develop symptoms related to depression.
Pregnancy Anxiety Symptoms
Specific manifestations of anxiety disorders or OCD during pregnancy can include:
- High levels of general concern;
- Recurring thoughts of harmful or fatal results for a developing child;
- Inability to get adequate sleep rest;
- Excessively deep or rapid breathing pattern, known as hyperventilation;
- Beginning of temporarily debilitating episodes known as panic attacks.
Whenever possible, doctors try to avoid medication- based anxiety treatment for pregnant women , as this form of treatment can lead to health risks for a developing child, if not strictly limited.
Is Anxiety Harmful in Pregnancy?
Anxiety during pregnancy is not necessarily a benign event . Several studies indicate that women who experience clinically significant anxiety symptoms during pregnancy are more likely to:
- Premature births;
- Babies with low birth weight;
- Poor adaptation outside the uterus, including difficulty breathing.
Risks for the mother include:
- Termination of pregnancy;
- Pre eclampsia;
- Premature labor;
- Postpartum depression or anxiety;
- Use of substances such as alcohol or drugs;
- Problematic attachment to the baby;
- Do not take good care of your physical health.
Thus, it is crucial that women with anxiety disorders are carefully monitored during pregnancy, so that treatment as well as therapy for anxiety in pregnancy can be administered if anxiety symptoms appear at this stage.
Treatment of Anxiety in Pregnancy
There are several therapies that do not involve medication and are therefore considered safe for a developing baby. For women who need medication, there are low-risk options that can provide realistic relief.
Pregnancy anxiety therapy, relaxation techniques can be very helpful in treating anxiety symptoms during pregnancy and can reduce the need for medication.
The following treatments have been shown to help pregnant women with mild to moderate depression.
- Psychotherapy , such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), in which a qualified therapist teaches new approaches to the management of thoughts and emotions.
- Omega-3 , which are found in foods like fish and nuts, and can act as a natural mood enhancer.
- Light therapy , in which patients are exposed to artificial sunlight at specific times of the day to help relieve symptoms of depression.
- Acupuncture , the Chinese practice that (in this case) involves placing tiny needles in areas of the body that influences mood
Although these modalities have been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms, we have less information about the effectiveness of these interventions in women with severe or pre-existing anxiety disorders.
What is the name of Pregnancy Anxiety Therapy?
The Therapy Cognitive Behavioral (CBT) is the name of therapy for anxiety in pregnancy, and is designed to do several things. First, a therapist who practices this form of therapy helps his patients to understand why and how their emotions, thoughts and actions contribute to dysfunctional or harmful reactions to stressful situations.
The therapist will then help their patients learn to recognize specific examples of harmful emotions, thoughts and actions. Finally, it helps your patients to develop new emotions , thoughts and actions that cannot withstand dysfunctional or harmful stress reactions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is well supported by a large body of evidence-based research and has proven to be useful in the treatment of a number of serious mental health problems.
Usefulness For Pregnant Women
In the study published in the Archives of Women’s Mental Health, researchers at McMaster University in Canada and St. Joseph’s Healthcare used a small-scale pilot project to help determine the usefulness of cognitive behavioral therapy as a treatment for pregnancy-related anxiety and anxiety disorders.
This project was developed because, while cognitive behavioral therapy is a well-known effective treatment for anxiety in general , the research community knows very little about the impact of this anxiety therapy on pregnancy.
Some of the 10 women enrolled in the project became pregnant, while others had a baby in the previous year. All women had some form of diagnosable anxiety disorder.
For the research, participants were enrolled in a six-week course of cognitive behavioral therapy held in a group format rather than in an individual setting.
At the end of the pregnancy anxiety therapy course, it was concluded that the participating women experienced a substantial decline in their anxiety disorder symptoms.
In addition, women experienced a similar decline in their exposure to symptoms of depression. Crucially, the participants in general, found the treatment pleasant and self-declared a belief in the effectiveness of the approach.
The researchers believe that their findings point to the usefulness of cognitive-behavioral therapy as a treatment for anxiety in the context of pregnancy and postpartum.
However, they observe the small scale of their work and demand that future researchers conduct larger studies capable of confirming or contesting their results.
My name is Dr. Alexis Hart I am 38 years old, I am the mother of 3 beautiful children! Different ages, different phases 16 years, 12 years and 7 years. In love with motherhood since always, I found it difficult to make my dreams come true, and also some more after I was already a mother.
Since I imagined myself as a mother, in my thoughts everything seemed to be much easier and simpler than it really was, I expected to get pregnant as soon as I wished, but it wasn’t that simple. The first pregnancy was smooth, but my daughter’s birth was very troubled. Joana was born in 2002 with a weight of 2930kg and 45cm, from a very peaceful cesarean delivery but she had already been born with congenital pneumonia due to a broken bag not treated with antibiotics even before delivery.