Anxiety disorders are a frequent occurrence in pregnancy. While some worries and anxiety are experienced by more than 50% of pregnant women.
Anxiety disorders during pregnancy can occur in different ways. Fear of losing the child may be increasingly observed in women with a history of infertility, miscarriage and attempted in vitro fertilizations. Fear related to labor and postpartum period; fear concerning baby care and motherhood is widespread. Furthermore the prevalence of obsessive compulsive disorder is rising.
Anxiety is an emotion and reaction against persons and situations that are perceived and interpreted as threatening. A low level of anxiety usually alerts us to potential danger and enables us to rapidly react to this danger. However if the stress response is too much and occurs for no apparent reason, it becomes a problem. Symptoms of anxiety aren’t dangerous but they can sometimes be uncomfortable and scary.
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
There are several types of anxiety disorders that occur in pregnancy and postpartum, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms.
- Excessive, ongoing worry that impacts your day to day activities
- Poor appetite
- Physical restlessness, inability to sit still
- Dizziness, hot flashes, nausea
- Panic attacks
Anxiety disorders during pregnancy
There are many anxiety disorders that can occur during pregnancy. First, there is panic disorder. The normal pregnancy-related changes—such as increased heart rate, shortness of breath, heartburn, sweating, and dizziness—can often be misinterpreted as harmful. As these symptoms become prominent during the sixth and 28th week of pregnancy, many women report the onset of panic symptoms.
Second, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) forms from intolerance of uncertainty and inaccurate beliefs about the future. Many mothers worry about the impending arrival of their baby and all the things that could go wrong. This can lead to lying awake at night worrying and making plans to deal with each imagined scenario.
Third, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is increased by pregnancy, as the mother thinks about the overwhelming responsibility for the baby’s wellbeing and safety.Oftentimes, obsessions focus on possible harm to the baby, and compulsions include washing and cleaning rituals and compulsively checking on the baby. Some of these thoughts are common and normal for new mothers; however, ritualizing and attempts to control or suppress these thoughts often reinforce and escalate anxiety .
Fourth, while most women report some fear of delivery, for some it can turn into a childbirth-related specific phobia. Fear is often learned through previous traumatic deliveries, negative information, or witnessing others’ fearful behavior. This extreme fear can be associated with prolonged labor, increased perception of pain, and avoidance of labor in favor of cesarean birth.
Lastly, post-traumatic stress anxiety disorder (PTSD) can result from premature delivery, preeclampsia, pregnancy loss, or lack of emotional or social support. A history of rape, childhood sexual abuse, and domestic violence are common among pregnant women with PTSD. These women often avoid health care providers, are extremely sensitive to bodily exposure, and have dissociation, flashbacks, or an excessive need to control situations.