Anxiety disorder during pregnancy: Causes and ways to deal with it

Anxiety disorder during pregnancy often occurs in first-time pregnant women because they are not experienced, so it is easier to become stressed and anxious. The support of her husband or family members is essential for pregnant women to overcome this difficult period.

What is pregnancy anxiety disorder?

Anxiety is an obvious state in any pregnant woman, such as worrying about not knowing if the baby will develop well, worrying about the future of her baby, every time she has a cold, she also worried about the impact on the child. However, this worry is only in moderation, not always the mother feels that way. But if the anxiety is constant, appears continuously with increasing frequency and level, affecting your health and life, this is most likely a sign of an anxiety disorder during pregnancy.

Anxiety disorder during pregnancy

Most pregnant women have an anxiety episode that, if left unaddressed, develops into an anxiety disorder

Statistics show that about 60% of women have experienced an anxiety disorder at some stage in their life, in which pregnancy accounts for a large proportion. The nature of pregnant women is inherently anxious, so the combination of hormonal, environmental or daily life factors will make these symptoms more severe.

Anxiety in an anxiety disorder during pregnancy is often accompanied by problems such as insomnia, restlessness, mental fatigue, irritability, or excessive panic over perfectly normal situations. Statistics also show that about 17% of pregnant women in the last 3 months are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder; 5% were associated with depression and 11% of women had postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder. These problems are often detected quite late, lasting even after birth, which greatly affects the patient’s life.

Types of anxiety disorders commonly encountered in pregnant women are:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): anxiety appears for many reasons, causing the patient to feel restless as if danger is imminent, often accompanied by muscle stiffness, inability to sleep even though it is very difficult. tired
  • Panic disorder (PD): panic occurs for no apparent reason. Panic attacks usually last for 15 seconds, but subsequent effects such as shaking limbs, sweating, and heart palpitations can last for hours.
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Pregnant women become obsessed with being perfect or a ritual. For example, keep going in and out of your child’s room constantly because you’re not sure if the lights have been turned off or not, or washing your children’s hands many times as soon as their hands are covered with sauce for fear of catching an infection.

Signs of anxiety disorder during pregnancy

According to Dr. Alice Domar  (Director of the Center for Mental and Physical Health in Boston (USA)), it is natural for a mother during pregnancy to become more anxious than usual because “they have to pay attention to in meeting the needs of the infant”. And this is also the thought of most people when they see that pregnant women tend to be more anxious than usual. Therefore, anxiety disorders during pregnancy are often detected quite late.

Anxiety disorder during pregnancy

Pregnant women with anxiety often feel restless, short of breath, and have chest pain

Symptoms of anxiety disorder during pregnancy can vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder, but they all share some common signs:

  • Always feeling anxious, restless, standing still without knowing the reason
  • Difficulty falling asleep or waking up suddenly with a panic attack due to a nightmare
  • Lack of concentration, distracted mind, so pregnant mothers are also very startled
  • Limbs often feel numb, tight muscles
  • Mood swings, unpredictable joys and sorrows, often becoming irritable, more irritable than usual
  • Memory decline, talk first, forget later, can check that the power has been turned off less than a dozen times
  • Feeling sluggish as if you have no energy
  • When experiencing panic-inducing events, symptoms include heart palpitations, red face, increased blood pressure, shortness of breath, or chest tightness.
  • May experience stomach problems, such as poor digestion, frequent bloating and indigestion
  • Always feeling insecure, thinking excessively about issues such as raising children, children’s health, family finances
  • You may feel headache, dizziness, abdominal pain, heart attack, but the tests do not reveal any physical disease.

If these symptoms are present for more than 6 months or have a severe impact on daily life, they are diagnosed as an anxiety disorder during pregnancy. These tests need to be carried out in psychiatric hospitals or psychological centers to get the most accurate results.

Causes of anxiety disorder during pregnancy

It is natural for a pregnant woman to be anxious, but if it develops into a psychological illness, it is often related to factors around the daily environment. Those who are pregnant for the first time or single mothers, pregnant without anyone’s help are often very susceptible to this condition. Specifically, factors thought to be associated with anxiety disorders during pregnancy include

Due to hormonal changes

A pregnant woman’s body undergoes huge hormonal changes, which greatly affect her mood. Experts also say that hormonal changes during this period often make women more irritable, sensitive, and more emotional than usual. This is also the reason why so many women suffer from psychological problems during pregnancy such as pregnancy depression or anxiety disorders.

Anxiety disorder during pregnancy

Hormonal changes are the cause of mood problems in pregnant women

Specifically, human chorionic gonadotropin will increase during pregnancy to allow the fetus to adhere to the uterus. This condition increases fatigue and nausea in pregnant women. At the same time, an increase in the hormones progesterone and oestrogen is also necessary to prepare for childbirth, but it fluctuates serotonin levels, making women more sad and easier to cry.

It is because of this hormone that most pregnant women experience at least one more stressful and emotional phase during pregnancy. However, depending on the resolution and accompanying factors, the course of these symptoms varies. That is also the reason why many people during pregnancy are more irritable and sensitive than usual, but they do not suffer from anxiety disorders during pregnancy.

Family factor

Although there are no known genes for anxiety disorders, the disorder often runs in families. Specifically, if in the family there are parents, siblings or relatives living under the same roof, the risk of the remaining people being affected is also very high. In particular, parents are the ones who greatly influence their children through education, conversation, and daily interaction, so if the pregnant mother’s parents have had an anxiety disorder before, the risk of the pregnant woman having the disease is also high. very high.

Environmental factors and surrounding impacts

When pregnant women are more irritable and uncomfortable than we often “blame” on hormones, however, the influence of hormones is only a small part, the impact of problems around life is weak. increased anxiety in pregnant women. If these factors are controlled, it is possible to completely eliminate or prevent the risk of this disease.

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Specifically, factors that increase the risk of an anxiety disorder during pregnancy include

  • First time pregnancy: when you are pregnant for the first time, there are many things that make pregnant women worry, such as how to take care of the baby, what to eat, how to walk. This makes the mother constantly think and worry too much, leading to the disease.
  • Unintended pregnancy or single mother without a caregiver: because there is no one around to help answer concerns, help with tasks that pregnant women cannot do alone, they feel helpless and worried. worry about the present, fear about the future, and feel depressed. These emotions, if not eliminated, will persist and form disease.
  • Unstable finances: During pregnancy, there are a series of money-related problems such as antenatal care, pregnancy milk, food, postpartum care, and diapers. Constantly thinking, calculating, mentally uncomfortable, so it easily leads to psychological problems such as anxiety disorders.
  • Pressure from people around: words like “pregnant but thin”; “Pregnant eating and drinking so that enough nutrients for the big child”; “Being pregnant but being too fat is not good”… these things make pregnant women always obsess, worry that they don’t know if they’re eating this way, walking like that, whether it’s appropriate or not. Constant anxiety gradually covers the mind completely, making pregnant women never rest. This is also the cause of anxiety disorders during pregnancy in many people.
  • Realize the responsibility of a mother: the real responsibility of a mother is a thousand times greater than imagined or watching movies every day. During pregnancy, a new woman gradually realizes what that responsibility is and this inevitably causes them normal anxiety.
  • Wanting the best for their children: many women have OCD because they want the best and the best for their children. For example, if they want their children to be smart and healthy, they must drink the specified amount of milk every day at that exact time, and let them listen to music. When the baby was born, he was afraid that he would not be safe alone, so he kept coming back to check if he was okay, repeating the same thing all night until he couldn’t sleep.

Is anxiety disorder during pregnancy dangerous?

Anxiety disorder is inherently a dangerous disease, so when it occurs in pregnant women, the severity will be doubled because the disease can cause effects on both mother and fetus. Because anxiety is often accompanied by problems such as increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and insomnia, it will cause serious consequences related to the health of both mother and baby, so absolutely do not be subjective.

The consequences that can appear when the mother has an anxiety disorder during pregnancy such as

  • Increased risk of preterm birth, difficult birth or often need to use forceps support
  • Miscarriage is possible if you have other mental problems like depression
  • Children born often tend to be underweight, underweight, retarded in both physical and mental development
  • Mothers with anxiety disorders also increase the risk of mental problems in their children
  • The use of anti-anxiety medications at this time, if not properly, can also cause birth defects in the unborn baby.

In addition, in people with severe anxiety disorder often suffer from depression at the same time, without timely help, many people have chosen to hurt themselves or commit suicide to relieve their difficult emotions. self. Anxiety disorders during pregnancy have many potential dangers, so it should be detected and treated early in the early stages to prevent these complications.

How to deal with anxiety disorder during pregnancy

When you see an abnormal increase in anxiety levels along with problems related to the health of pregnant women, they should actively visit hospitals with psychiatric specialties or psychotherapy facilities for good support. Best. Most doctors will give priority to using external supportive measures instead of using drugs as usual to prevent maximum complications for the fetus.

The treatment of anxiety disorders during pregnancy needs the initiative of the pregnant woman as well as the help of her family to bring about the fastest results.


Most of the patient’s anxiety will stem from the time of pregnancy, related to the baby, so it can often be resolved more clearly than normal anxiety cases. Psychologists will talk with pregnant women to understand the mother’s anxiety and phobia, thereby helping them understand their own problems, helping the patient have a more holistic view of their feelings. your touch and slowly remove it.

Anxiety disorder during pregnancy

Psychotherapy offers many benefits to pregnant women with anxiety

The therapist not only plays the role of a guide but also a friend and companion who can listen to the sharing and concerns from pregnant women. This helps them better understand the patient’s thoughts and feelings. The therapist also encourages pregnant women to speak honestly about their thoughts, perceptions, and feelings, and guides them to be able to see problems from a different perspective.

Therapy with psychologists will help people with anxiety disorders during pregnancy gradually regain their spirits, get rid of anxiety, and live in a more positive direction. Measures to clear the mind and control negative emotions are also taught by the therapist to the patient to completely eliminate the disease, preventing the risk of the disease returning later.

Psychotherapy is really a great solution for pregnant women with anxiety disorders because it doesn’t need drugs, does not cause side effects, and helps both mother and baby get better. In the early stages of pregnancy, pregnant women can completely eliminate anxiety disorders during pregnancy through psychotherapy without the use of drugs.

Use medicine to treat

Although anti-anxiety medications often come with a lot of side effects, even causing birth defects in the fetus, in some cases, it is still necessary to use them to prevent a problem. complications appear. The doctor will weigh the benefits and harms of these drugs for pregnant women to use.

However, most pregnant women will be prescribed medication for a short time to temporarily control symptoms of anxiety, excessive excitement, if any, then gradually reduce the dose to limit the effects. Pregnant women need to absolutely follow the dose prescribed by the doctor on how to use, the dose, absolutely do not arbitrarily increase / decrease the dose of drugs because they can cause a lot of negative health consequences.

Besides, the doctor can also prescribe a few vitamins and functional pills to nourish the brain and improve sleep quality. Pregnant women who want to take any medicine should discuss with their doctor for the best support.

Direction of care and treatment at home

For those who are experiencing psychological problems such as anxiety disorders during pregnancy, home care and treatment also play a very important role to shorten the treatment time. Families and loved ones should pay more attention to pregnant women to overcome this difficult period.

Anxiety disorder during pregnancy

Practicing yoga can improve anxiety in pregnant women

How to deal with pregnancy anxiety disorder during treatment and home care

  • Maintain adequate sleep habits, make sure to sleep 7-8 hours a day. The body of pregnant women is often quite tired, so take advantage of sleep when possible to ensure energy recovery, mental alertness and concentration.
  • Daily practice of yoga and meditation also brings many benefits to pregnant women suffering from anxiety disorders. Both these subjects help strengthen resistance, balance the mind, good for the heart and many other uses for health.
  • Pregnant women should actively seek help by sharing their difficult feelings with those around them. For example, if you are worried about how to take care of your children in the future, you can ask mothers and sisters; If you are worried about finances, start making spending plans with your husband.
  • Take antenatal classes to learn how to take better care of yourself and your baby, especially for those who are pregnant for the first time, pregnant without anyone’s help
  • Relax your mind and body every day through hot baths, steam baths with essential oils, and pain relief massage.
  • Maintaining a daily exercise routine will both improve your mood and make childbirth easier
  • Routine antenatal check-ups to eliminate concerns about your own health or that of your unborn baby
  • Supplement scientific nutrition, increase green vegetables, nuts, foods containing healthy fats, fresh fruits daily
  • Stay away from alcohol, coffee, alcoholic beverages, foods with bad fats, fast foods, industrial foods, foods containing artificial sweeteners
  • Stay away from cigarettes and secondhand smoke
  • Eliminate negative words from people around, trust the doctor’s guidance in taking care of your child
  • Husband and family members also need to be subtly attentive, listen and actively help in daily tasks as well as spend more time talking to pregnant women to eliminate negative thoughts early. worth having

Currently, there are still many people who suffer from anxiety disorders during pregnancy but are not detected, leading to many sad consequences. Changing a healthy lifestyle, actively sharing more and learning about taking care of children from grandmothers and mothers in the family is the best way to prevent this disease.

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