Pregnancy can be an exciting and happy time for expectant mothers, but it is natural to feel a bit anxious from time to time. For some women, however, anxiety is more than just an occasional feeling – and it can start to interfere with everything in your life, including eating and sleeping habits. Knowing how to understand these feelings is important in order to help you keep them under control and to therefore ensure the health of you and your baby.
Pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood are major life events, so it is normal to have anxieties about what to expect. Anxiety disorders affect as many as 40 million adults in the United States every year, and anxiety can be a symptom of a condition such as panic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The good news is that there are several things you can do about it. Let’s talk about how to identify anxiety, what you can do to mitigate its effects on your pregnancy, and who you can talk to about keeping it under control for good.
Symptoms of Anxiety
Whether you’re pregnant or not, anxiety can cause both psychological and physical symptoms which may include:
- Feeling anxious all or most of the time and not being able to control it
- Constantly feeling restless, very stressed out, or on edge
- Constant worrying (such as about the baby or about childbirth)
- Difficulty concentrating or completing ordinary tasks
- Sleeping problems
- A sense of dread
- Exhaustion and fatigue
- Panic attacks
- Digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome
Is It Normal to Feel Anxiety During Pregnancy?
It is extremely common to feel anxious during pregnancy, with more than 10% of pregnant women experiencing it at some point during their pregnancy. For those who have a pre-existing anxiety disorder, pregnancy can cause the symptoms to become much worse.
Factors that can contribute to anxiety during pregnancy include hormonal changes (which may affect the chemicals in the brain), pregnancy complications, or previous events such as a miscarriage or a prior difficult delivery. Of course, for women who are pregnant for the first time, a bit of fear of the unknown is also a factor.
How to Keep Anxiety Under Control While Pregnant
Tips for managing your anxiety include the following:
Talk About How You Feel
If you are feeling anxious during your pregnancy, it is important to share these thoughts, feelings, and fears with someone else. Anxiety can become overwhelming and may make you feel alone. A partner, friend, family member, or doctor can be a great support and help you keep your anxieties under control.
Write Down Your Feelings and Thoughts
A journal is an excellent way to let out your feelings without fear of judgment. It can also help to organize or prioritize your concerns and allow you to refocus your mind. This may also help you to recognize whether there are certain triggers that exacerbate your anxiety.
Write Down What You’re Thankful For
It can be very helpful to acknowledge the good things in your life. Write down or type even the small things you’re grateful for. If you feel like there’s nothing you’re thankful for, see a psychiatrist soon because you may have clinical depression that warrants treatment. Depression during pregnancy can cause birth defects and other issues, but a doctor can help to quell this issue quickly and effectively.
Exercising enables your body to naturally release chemicals which help to relieve stress and pain. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen during pregnancy, but you can engage in gentle activities like walking, stretching, and swimming.
Anxiety can disrupt sleep, but sleep is very important during pregnancy. Not only does it improve your immune system and brain function, but it regulates growth hormone levels during fetal development. If you are finding that your sleep is disrupted at night, try taking naps during the day if possible.
Psychiatrist in NYC and Southbury, CT
If you suffer with anxiety during pregnancy or due to another life event (or even for no apparent reason at all), then get the professional expertise you need from psychiatrist Dr. Mark Stracks of Psy-Visions. We are committed to delivering optimum care for clients who may be suffering from a wide range of conditions.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Stracks, call us today at (718) 887-2918 in New York City or (203) 405-1745 in Connecticut, or fill out our confidential online form. We are here to help you enjoy brighter tomorrows.