Monday, May 20, 2024

What Causes Panic Attacks During Pregnancy

Don't Miss

Will Having Anxiety During Pregnancy Affect My Baby

Coping with Panic Attacks During Pregnancy

Anxiety during pregnancy is treatable, but it’s essential to seek help. Doing so is especially important when you’re expecting, since persistent anxiety during pregnancy may lead to future health and developmental issues for your baby.

In babies, studies have linked a mother’s untreated anxiety during pregnancy to prematurity, low birth weight and fetal growth restriction. Some research suggests that prenatal anxiety may also increase a child’s future risk of mental disorders, emotional problems, hyperactivity, and impaired cognitive development.

In moms, untreated anxiety while pregnant may make nausea and vomiting worse. Anxiety may also make it more difficult to care for yourself and your little one and to bond with your baby once he is born, and may lead to postpartum anxiety.

Are Panic Attacks Normal During Pregnancy

It is very normal for a would-be-mommy to feel concerned about the well-being of her unborn child, and sometimes these concerns, if too many and too frequent, may result in a panic attack. It is observed that almost 10 percent of pregnant women experience a panic attack during their pregnancy journey. Even if you have never experienced any panic attack before in your life, there may be a possibility that you may experience it during pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions Expand All

  • What is anxiety?

    Anxiety is a feeling of nervousness, worry, or concern. These feelings are normal and common.

    An anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that happens when anxiety gets in the way of daily life. This is more than a temporary fear. The anxiety is intense, lasts a long time, or both.

    Like other health conditions, anxiety disorders can be treated. Getting help is the best thing you can do for you and your family.

  • What are common types of anxiety?
  • Generalized anxiety disorderYou feel very worried about your life most of the time. It is hard to stop having negative thoughts. You might have trouble sleeping, an upset stomach, or headaches.

  • Panic disorderYou feel terrified for short, intense periods of time. These reactions are called panic attacks. You might have a racing heart, feel sweaty or nauseated, or have chest pain.

  • Social phobia or social anxiety disorderYou feel nervous or afraid of social situations. You might avoid being around other people.

Additional symptoms of anxiety disorders are described below. With any anxiety disorder, you may have multiple symptoms.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder also are related to anxiety disorders. OCD causes recurring, unwanted thoughts and urges to repeat specific behaviors . PTSD may develop after experiencing trauma, such as exposure to violence, death, serious injury, or sexual assault.

  • after weaning your baby from breastfeeding

  • when your menstrual periods return

  • You May Like: How To Get Rid Of Ptsd Flashbacks

    Why Seek Help For Pregnancy Anxiety

    Many women are under the mistaken impression that the best way to deal with anxiety is just to struggle through it. But if your anxiety is severe, there are a few reasons its best to seek help.

    Although you might tell yourself Ill just feel better once the baby is here, research has actually shown that women who have anxiety during pregnancy are more likely to have postpartum depression after their baby is born.

    So although anxiety and depression dont necessarily occur together, they are closely related and by learning ways to control your anxiety before your new little one arrives, youll increase the odds that youll be able to enjoy those joyful first few months.

    Another reason to explore treatments: Long-term, severe anxiety during pregnancy can affect your babys development.

    Studies have shown that anxiety or depression during pregnancy can increase the odds of preterm birth and low birth weight and even make it more likely a child will, down the road, have emotional or behavioral challenges.

    Severe Anxiety While Pregnant: Causes And Treatment

    Anxiety During Pregnancy

    Pregnancy comes with different feelings, behaviors, cravings, hatred, and other moments. Some of the moments are exciting while others like anxiety and stress may occur in some women and are not nice at all.

    Most pregnant women will worry about their health, the financial strain of raising a child, and the fear of the unknown. For example, some parents worry about what will become of their children.

    Anxiety when occurring infrequently and without much intensity is nothing to worry about. However, severe anxiety while pregnant can be overwhelming.

    For a woman, the worries discussed above and many others in addition to changes in the hormones in her body can lead to a cycle of anxiety and depression. This can be experienced by others through anger outbursts, crying, irritability, and extreme sadness.


  • 10.5 Can anxiety cause birth defects?
  • Also Check: How To Relax After A Panic Attack

    Why Is My Anxiety So Bad Pregnant

    Causes of anxiety during pregnancy Some women experience a decrease in their symptoms during pregnancy, but your anxiety may get worse. After all, not everything that makes you feel anxious is under your control. Hormonal changes during pregnancy may affect the chemicals in your brain. This can cause anxiety.

    Help For Panic Attacks During Pregnancy

    What are the best treatments for panic attacks in a pregnant woman? In most cases, a combination of cognitive and behavioral therapies will help. Cognitive therapy can help people replace negative or frightening thoughts with more realistic, positive ones. Behavioral therapies, such as mindfulness exercises, also may help. Mindfulness teaches you to focus on whats happening right now in the present, rather than worry about the future or dwell on the past. It can help reduce stress during pregnancy, Hassan says.

    Amy says cognitive-behavioral therapy helped her to exert more control over her thoughts it attempts to stop the anxiety before it escalates into a panic attack and to control anxiety in general.

    Pregnant women who know what might trigger a panic attack such as drinking coffee or stepping into an overheated room should avoid those situations whenever possible.

    Relaxation techniques, including deep breathing, can help calm someone who is having a panic attack. Amy says breathing is an important part of her therapy. Anti-anxiety medications can also be used, under the supervision of a physician. Medications may be necessary because women who have panic attacks during pregnancy are more likely to struggle with them postpartum, Hassan says.

    If you are pregnant and are having panic attacks or feel overwhelmed by stress, you should talk to your doctor and get appropriate treatment.

    You May Like: Did Blair Waldorf Have An Eating Disorder

    Effects Of Pregnancy On Panic Attacks

    Numerous studies have shown that women with mild panic attacks usually do not experience drastic changes in their frequency and severity during pregnancy. In fact, many of them even show significant improvements, which is said to be due to the calming effects of progesterone.

    However, women who normally suffer from severe panic attacks may notice a worsening of symptoms or a development of new ones. It is believed to be related to the changes a woman’s body goes through to accommodate the growing fetus for example, when the uterus expands, it might put pressure on the diaphragm or lungs, making breathing more difficult, which in turn can cause pregnant women to feel breathless. Shortness of breath might easily be mistaken for an upcoming a panic attack and actually trigger one.

    Who Is At Risk Of Suffering Panic Attacks While Pregnant

    Tremors during anxeity/panic attack

    Wondering if you are at a risk of having a panic attack? Well, as discussed above, panic attacks are very common and extremely normal during pregnancy. It may affect any woman, irrespective of the fact that she may have experienced it before or not. However, it is seen that women who are natural worriers, and have a tendency to worry, are more prone to panic attacks developing from normal anxiety.

    Don’t Miss: How To Be Motivated When Depressed

    Have A Good Support System

    There is no denying that family and friends are your true saviours in times of need, and dealing with a panic attack during pregnancy is no exception. Just knowing the fact that you have your partner, parents, siblings, or friends by your side may give you much-needed peace of mind. Also, if you feel that you may require them by your side, you should not shy away from giving them a call. Emotional support is imperative in dealing with any kind of panic-stricken situations during pregnancy.

    Panic attacks are a very normal phenomenon during pregnancy, and with proper medical guidance and care, you may be able to handle this situation better, and have a healthy and hassle-free pregnancy.

    History Of Trauma Or Abuse

    Traumatic events, such as car accidents or childhood abuse, can increase the risk of developing panic disorder. This is because trauma can lead to changes in the brain that make it more difficult to cope with stress. Trauma also results in feelings of fear, helplessness, and anxiety, which contribute to the occurrence of panic attacks. This also happens because these events can be stressful enough that they cause changes in the brain that make it difficult to cope with stress.

    Don’t Miss: What Causes Panic Attacks When Sleeping

    Pregnancy And Postpartum Hormonal Changes

    The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and after childbirth can trigger panic attacks. This is because these hormones can cause changes in the brain that make it difficult to cope with stress. It also happens because pregnancy and postpartum can be stressful life events that can lead to changes in routine, which can be difficult for the mind and body to adjust to.

    Anxiety And Your Baby

    Pin on Health and Fitness

    Well-meaning friends may have told you that you need to stop worrying because it isnt good for the baby. While their sentiment comes from a good place, you may feel like stopping the cycle is easier said than done. Still, research shows that there is good reason to get your anxiety under control.

    High levels of anxiety during pregnancy are associated with a risk of developing conditions like preeclampsia, premature birth, and low birth weight.

    Don’t Miss: What Are The Symptoms Of Bipolar 2

    Impact Of Maternal Panic Attack On Neonates

    The primary concern of the panic attack is whether this stressful condition will affect the newborn. Normally, anxiety does not affect offspring development if the patient is under treatment. Pregnant women should discuss both mental and physical health-related issues with their doctors. The right management help to overcome the condition and childbirth will be smooth. But untreated severe anxiety and frequent panic attacks lead to biological, mental, and behavioral health effects on a newborn.


    Panic Attacks And Trimesters Of Pregnancy

    Panic attacks during the first trimester of pregnancy can be accompanied with the following symptoms:

    • Morning sickness during pregnancy. Due to psychological tension the pregnant woman can feel nausea, that can become constant. She also feels permanent fatigue and drowsiness.
    • Hormonal imbalance. It can be the reason for miscarriage during the first week of pregnancy, when the woman doesnt even understand that shes pregnant.

    Panic attacks in early pregnancy can be followed with uterine hypertonus. This symptom is quite dangerous, because its connected with the following factors:

  • placental insufficiency
  • placental abruption.
  • Uterine hypertonus is one of the reasons for missed miscarriage, when the perfectly healthy fetus stops growing and developing and dies without any clear reasons. When it happens during the first trimester of pregnancy, the womans body temperature gets low and she stops feeling any symptoms of morning sickness. When it happens during the second trimester of pregnancy, the woman gets fever and shivering attacks.

    Note!Another consequence of panic attacks during the second or third trimester of pregnancy is placental insufficiency, when the fetus doesnt get enough nutrients and oxygen. Thats the reason why the baby is born with low weight.

    You May Like: How To Relax During A Panic Attack

    Whats The Difference Between Antenatal Anxiety And Antenatal Depression

    Up to half of people with antenatal anxiety also have antenatal depression.

    Antenatal depression involves feeling low, numb and hopeless, losing confidence, being emotional or angry, not being able to sleep or eat properly, losing concentration and not being interested in people or activities they normally like.

    There are safe ways to treat both anxiety and depression at the same time during pregnancy.

    Symptoms And Causes Of A Pregnancy

    How Hormones Affect Your Anxiety Attacks

    The onset of a panic attack during pregnancy is sudden and occurs without any apparent reason. The duration of the panic attack varies from 5 minutes to 20 minutes. The period of a panic attack can be very frightening but usually does not cause a fatal outcome. The symptoms associated with a panic attack are as follows:

    • Significant increase in heartbeat
    • Tingling sensation
    • Churning in stomach

    The reason for panic attack arises due to anxiety during pregnancy. Some of the common causes of anxiety during pregnancy include family history and panic attacks, previous history of panic attacks of the affected mother, mental or physical trauma, abuse, drug addiction, depression, chronic ill health, relationship issues, financial crisis, etc.

    A panic attack usually when a person develops an overwhelming and debilitating fear about something. Most pregnant women feel fear to give birth, but they eager to have their child. When severe fear of childbirth affects their decision making is termed as Tokophobia. Traumatic birthing experience, miscarriage, death of newborns can cause childbirth fear. This type of phobia usually generates due to post-traumatic stress disorders. Some women also have a needle phobia, which turns to a panic attack during an essential blood test required to do during pregnancy.

    Read Also: Can Postpartum Depression Start Later

    Can You Have Panic Attacks In Your Sleep What Do Night

    Panic attacks can occur in your sleep, though the symptoms may be different than one during the day. Some may be unable to recognize or diagnose the problem, and this can be the most distressing part. Its possible for someone to have sleep panic attacks even if they have never had daytime panic attacks, so the condition isnt necessarily easy to diagnose.

    A night-time panic attack is simply a panic attack that occurs while you are asleep. Its not quite that simple, however, as the emotions and physical sensations you might experience during a sleep panic attack can differ significantly from those you experience in a waking panic attack. Thats not always the case, of course, but its not at all uncommon for sleep panic attacks to be quite different.

    Many people with panic disorder have sleeping panic attacks, which might mean just one or a few attacks, or regular episodes at night for a long time. Overall, however, attacks that occur during sleep account for only a small proportion of all panic attacks.

    Preventing A Further Attack

    It may help to:

    • read a self-help book for anxiety based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy ask your GP to recommend one
    • try complementary therapies such as massage and aromatherapy, or activities like yoga and pilates, to help you relax
    • learn breathing techniques to help ease symptoms
    • do regular physical exercise to reduce stress and tension
    • avoid sugary food and drinks, caffeine and alcohol, and stop smoking, as all they can all make attacks worse

    For more help, read how to deal with panic attacks.

    You May Like: How To Get Disability For Ptsd

    Why Should Women With Panic Disorder Seek Treatment In Pregnancy Or Postpartum

    • Untreated Panic Disorder in pregnancy may predispose women to greater illness and increased symptoms in the postpartum period.
    • Treatment of Panic Disorder in pregnancy will increase coping skills of women in the postpartum period.
    • Use of anti-panic medication in the postpartum period has been shown to decrease symptoms.
    • Untreated Panic Disorder may affect the mother-child relationship and the womans ability to cope in the postpartum period.

    Risk Factors For Anxiety During Pregnancy

    Stress During Pregnancy

    While there’s no way to predict who will experience pregnancy anxiety, research suggests a few factors may increase a person’s risk, including:

    • A personal history of anxiety or depression
    • A family history of mental health disorders
    • Experiencing stressful events during pregnancy, such as losing a job or relationship problems with your partner
    • Financial struggles and low socioeconomic status
    • A history of abortion, miscarriage, preterm delivery, or stillbirth
    • An unplanned pregnancy
    • Being pregnant with multiples

    Recommended Reading: When Is National Depression Day

    What Do They Feel Like

    Just like the panic attacks that occur while awake, those that occur while asleep can take different forms.

    One type of attack that might occur during sleep is that the individual wakes up with the feeling that a panic attack is about to happen. This can include all the typical symptoms of a waking attack, with the added confusion and disorientation of having just woken up suddenly. This type of attack can cause a significant feeling of disconnection from reality due to the rapid cycling from sleeping to waking, combined with the disconnection of a panic attack.

    In another type of attack, the person having the attack doesnt wake up immediately, but instead remains asleep while part or all of the panic attack is occurring. Sometimes the person might have a panic attack similar to the one they might have while awake. In other cases symptoms that are entirely different from the normal waking symptoms might be experienced. These can include intense pain in the head or other parts of the body, intense feelings of pressure in the ears or lungs, teeth grinding, or other sensations.

    Someone who has this type of attack while sleeping might also be aware of being asleep. This is referred to as a lucid episode. When this happens the person might struggle to wake up, to try and end the attack, but be unable to do so.

    What Causes Pregnancy Anxiety

    There are many different reasons why a woman might experience anxiety while pregnant. Studies have found that some of the most common causes of pregnancy-related anxiety include:

    • Knowledge and expectations of childbirth
    • Your partners or familys reaction to the pregnancy
    • Fears about child development
    • Fears about the childs health
    • Fear of being a parent
    • Fears about financial stability

    Some women will also experience anxiety due to their own personal history. For example, if you have been in an abusive relationship before, you may have concerns about your partners behavior during this time. And finally, some women will experience stress due to work demands.

    If youre in a position where you need to maintain a high level of performance at work throughout your pregnancy, it can be challenging for your mental health.

    Also Check: Why Does Caffeine Give Me Anxiety

    More articles

    Popular Articles