Anxiety disorders during pregnancy

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.

Causes of anxiety?

Anxiety can concern to different causes and can differ from 1 person to another.

Potential risk factors:

  • biological construction and genes affecting your reactions and temperament
  • your environmental factors like traumatic childhood and adulthood experiences, relations, living environment and your socio-economic status
  • your habits, faiths and learned behaviors

Even if individuals have difficulty in understanding the causes of their anxieties they can learn to understand their body’s reaction and control them in an efficient way.

How does anxiety affect you? What are beliefs and thoughts linked to anxiety?

Effects on your feelings: fear, tension, worry, sadness, unhappiness

Effects on your behavior: avoidance, restlessness, hectic rush

Physical reactions: muscle tightness, short of breath, palpitations, sweating, chills

Thoughts: “I can’t cope with that”, “I’m dying”, “What if I lose control?”, “That’s too bad” “What if...?”

Beliefs: ‘Nobody understands me, ‘I always have to be in control, ‘I will never get better’, ‘I should never feel worried’

Relationships: strained relations, avoidance of social gatherings, dispute with close persons’

What can be helpful?

Symptoms of anxiety can be annoying and therefore it is important that you start with small, easily achievable steps. So you can start with some of the following suggestions:

  • Focus on your body’s reactions like your heart rate, breathing and any physical tension.
  • Realize, how your forehead, chin and shoulders are tensed and relax them.
  • Slow your breathing down and breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Speak slowly and walk.
  • Learn a relaxation method and apply it.
  • Do something that take your mind off your problems and draw your attention to other things and activities like working, walking, gardening or tidying up.
  • Draw your attention in another direction by focusing your attention on something that arouses your interest, e.g. watching clouds in the sky.
  • Do cognitive exercises to draw your attention in another direction e.g. do mental arithmetic tasks, recall your memories of your favorite holiday or place (smells, tastes, seen and touched things).
  • Note things that trigger your anxiety.
  • Realize your thoughts.
  • Listen to yourself and try to cope with your damaging thoughts,
  • Don’t avoid stressful situations and gradually expose yourself to them using support by close persons.
  • Set yourself realistic, achievable and logical targets, e.g. walking to supermarket.
  • Use the support of people in your environment by talking with them or asking them for help.
  • Join anxiety support groups.
  • It is possible to treat symptoms of anxiety with medications; In that regard, contact a doctor.