Can Pregnancies Increase Anxiety Attacks in Women?

Symptoms pertaining to anxiety are relatively common during pregnancy. However, they are often left undiagnosed and untreated. Recent studies have shown that 9.5% of women experience a generalized anxiety disorder at some point during their pregnancy. 

The study revealed that: 

  • 7% of the women studies experienced GAD in the first trimester 
  • 2% of the women observed showed signs of generalized anxiety disorder in the second trimester 
  • 3% of the women showed symptoms of GAD disorders in the third semester. 

The study revealed that a history of GAD before pregnancy was the strongest predictor of GAD during pregnancy. Those who experienced more than four GAD episodes before pregnancy were seven times more likely to experience GAD during pregnancy. 

Symptoms 

  • Constant worry 
  • Fatigue 
  • Anxiety 
  • Restless legs 
  • Nervousness 
  • Insomnia 
  • Inability to concentrate 
  • Amnesia 
  • dizziness 
  • Anxiety disorder treatment for pregnant women 

Psychotherapy 

Psychotherapy through cognitive-behavioral therapy has had some success in treating anxiety disorders. CBT, cognitive-behavioral therapy, works to reduce GAD by correcting the pregnant mother’s self-distracting behavior, leading to anxiety. 

Such self-destructing behaviors include; distorted or catastrophic thought processes, misinterpretations of physical symptoms, and maladaptive behavioral patterns. These self-destructive behaviors often cause or maintain or escalate the mother’s anxiety. 

Psychotherapy employs various strategies such as stress reduction exercise, social support, and sleep to reduce the mother’s anxiety during pregnancy. Through psychoeducation, pregnant mothers are taught to identify and correct these destructive behaviors. 

Psychopharmacology 

Although psychotherapy has been known to work, pregnant mothers with moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder may require stronger anxiety treatment. However, most women never receive such treatment due to stigma, fear, and misinformation through lay media. 

Various drugs could be used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, such as benzodiazepines, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotics. However, the jury is still out on whether the drugs are effective or a risk to the fetus or the mother. 

Very few studies have been conducted concerning the use of drugs as a form of treatment. However, one this is for sure. For moderate to severe GAD cases, the condition can dramatically affect the mother and fetus’s mental and physical health. 

Conclusion 

Anxiety disorder treatment for pregnant women affected by general anxiety disorder should not be taken lightly. Although a lot of research needs to be undertaken on the matter, pregnant women suffering from more severe GAD cases should be able to get psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic help to manage their anxiety. 

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