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What To Do When Having A Panic Attack While Pregnant

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Alternatives To Anxiety Medications While Pregnant

When someone is pregnant and has anxiety, the general medical advice is to try other options for treatment before taking medications. This is true even if an anxiety medicine is considered to be “probably safe.” Some alternatives to anxiety medications while pregnant can include cognitive behavioral therapy or another type of non-drug therapy. Some people may benefit from alternatives like yoga, meditation or massage. Another option would be herbal therapy, although herbs and supplements can be unsafe during pregnancy, so they should also only be taken under medical supervision. If a doctor does determine that the risks of a pregnant woman’s anxiety being untreated are greater than the risks of medication, they will then work to find the right option. Since some options are safer than others, doctors may, for example, recommend an SSRI over a benzodiazepine. If you’re currently using anxiety medication and you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t suddenly stop using it without speaking to your physician first.

If you’re concerned about prescription drugs, or other substances you or a loved one may be taking, we encourage you to reach out to our team at The Recovery Village today.

Related:Taking Anxiety Medications During Breastfeeding: What You Need to Know

When Should I See My Doctor For Anxiety During Pregnancy

Even if you experience only mild symptoms of anxiety, it is important to inform your doctor. They can recommend the best methods for you to manage those symptoms, and can then monitor you throughout your pregnancy for signs of worsening anxiety.

If your anxiety is affecting your daily life or if you’re having frequent panic attacks, you should call your doctor right away. Only they can diagnose you with an anxiety disorder and recommend the best, most effective treatment options for you.

Seeking help is the best step you can take to ensuring that you and your child stay safe and healthy.

Be Sure To Get Treatment For Panic Attacks

There are many studies that have show that stress and anxiety during pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and giving birth to a baby that is low birth weight, So stress and anxiety can cause affect the health and even the viability of a fetus. A recent study has shown that the children of mothers who experience anxiety in childhood.

So it is important if you are experiencing stress, anxiety and/or panic attacks to get medical treatment for these problems. Treatment will reduce the risk of developing these problems.

Panic attacks are also difficult for a mother. They can cause further anxiety, which will cause more panic attacks, which will cause more anxiety and so forth. In other words, they snowball.

In addition, women with anxiety disorders during pregnancy are nearly three times more likely to present with intense postnatal depressive symptoms

These are all good reasons to get treatment for anxiety and panic attacks in pregnancy. You can insure the health of your child, and you can improve your own state of mind. Pregnancy is surely a time when maintaining your own mental health is very important.

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 doesn’t 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.

Whats The Difference Between Antenatal Anxiety And Antenatal Depression

How to Manage Panic Attacks During Pregnancy

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.

What Triggers A Panic Attack

It can be hard to recognize what triggers a panic attack. Being more aware of the attacks and reflecting on what led up to them is important. Write down your thoughts and observations after each panic attack. You might notice a pattern over time, which can help you in preventing panic attacks while pregnant.

Panic Disorder In Children

Panic disorder is more common in teenagers than in younger children.

Panic attacks can be particularly hard for children and young people to deal with. Severe panic disorder may affect their development and learning.

If your child has the signs and symptoms of panic disorder, they should see a GP.

After taking a detailed medical history the GP will carry out a thorough physical examination to rule out any physical causes for the symptoms.

They may refer your child to a specialist for further assessment and treatment. The specialist may recommend a course of for your child.

Screening for other anxiety disorders may also be needed to help find the cause of your child’s panic attacks.

Complications Of Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is treatable and you can make a full recovery. But it’s best to get medical help as soon as you can.

If you do not get medical help, panic disorder can escalate and become very difficult to cope with.

You’re more at risk of developing other mental health conditions, such as or other , or an alcohol or drug problem.

Having panic disorder may affect your ability to drive. The law requires you to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency about a medical condition that could impact your driving ability.

Visit GOV.UK for further information about driving with a disability or health condition.

Consult With Your Doctor First

When it comes to pregnancy, it seems that everyone has his or her own personal anecdotes and steadfast opinions. For example, you may have a sister who shares her pregnancy experiences and advises you on what foods to avoid or perhaps you have an aunt who likes to tell you old wives’ tales and pregnancy myths. Regardless of any advice you receive from others, always consult with your doctor first.

Let your doctor know what concerns you have about your panic disorder during pregnancy. Your doctor will be able to help you sort out fact from fiction. She will also be there to thoroughly discuss treatment options while pregnant, including potential risks and benefits of medications for panic disorder.

Pregnancy Anxiety And The Pandemic: 4 Ways To Manage Symptoms

July 14, 2020

Experiencing some anxiety when you’re pregnant is normal. There’s a lot to process when you find out you’re expecting, especially since half of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned.

Even if you revel in watching your bump grow, it’s common to worry about what could go wrong. Approximately 40 million U.S. adults have an anxiety disorder, and nearly 10% of women experience anxiety during pregnancy.

But since the pandemic, rates of pregnancy and postpartum anxiety have more than doubled. A June 2020 survey showed that while 29% of pregnant women reported having anxiety prior to the pandemic, a staggering 72% reported it during the pandemic.

Unfortunately, fewer than 40% of people with anxiety seek treatment. Many assume it’s just a normal part of life or their personality. All their lives, they’ve been labeled as a “worrier” or “nervous Nellie.”

But it’s not JUST anxiety. Symptoms such as fear of leaving the house or being unable to relax can increase your risk of social isolation, depression, and sleep deprivation. And continual stress elevates your adrenaline system – the body’s fight-or-flight response. Feeling constantly on edge can wear you down and increase your risk of heart issues, , or having a preterm or low-weight baby.

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. It’s possible for someone to have sleep panic attacks even if they have never had daytime panic attacks, so the condition isn’t necessarily easy to diagnose.

A night-time panic attack is simply a panic attack that occurs while you are asleep. It’s 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. That’s not always the case, of course, but it’s 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.

What Should I Do If I Have Anxiety In Pregnancy

Talk to your midwife or doctor if you:

  • feel anxious most of the time for more than two weeks
  • have anxiety that is making you feel physically ill with fast heartbeat, fast breathing, sweating, feeling faint, feeling sick and diarrhoea
  • have a panic attack/s
  • have unpleasant thoughts that keep coming back and you can’t control them.
  • find yourself repeating an action  to feel better.
  • are so afraid of giving birth that you don’t want to go through with it
  • you are so afraid of blood tests that you avoid having them.

Tell your midwife or GP if you have experienced anxiety before even if you aren’t feeling anxious right now. The more they know about your mental health history the better they can support you during your pregnancy.

The midwife or doctor won’t criticise you or judge you for having these feelings. They know this happens to many pregnant women, and they will focus on finding the right treatment to help you recover.

If you find anxiety difficult to talk about, you could write down how you feel before your appointment or take someone with you for support.

Tell Yourself Youre Just Processing Information

How To Help Someone Who Is Having A Panic Attack

When you’re suffering from , panic attacks are so often you can’t tell when you’re actually having one. You’re in a constant state of fight or flight for months on end. You’re too scared to fall asleep and terrified while being awake. Eventually, when you do finally fall asleep, you wake up from nightmares that scare you awake. Sometimes they come as often as every ten minutes.

A social worker once told me that “nightmares are the brain’s way of processing information. The best way to combat them is to say ‘processing information’ every time you wake up from one.” This little trick has helped desensitize nightmares over the long-term so you feel less panicked after waking up from one. 

Can You Have A Panic Attack For No Reason

At first look, it might appear that there’s “no reason” for a panic attack. They seem to come out of nowhere suddenly.

However, we know that the body holds onto stress even when the mind isn’t thinking about it. A great book on this is ! I highly recommend it. We might not know the reason for our panic attack, but there always is one. Our body knows the reason.

When Pregnancy Brings On Panic Attacks

Anxiety and stress during pregnancy are more common than you might think. Even women who have never had a panic attack before may experience one while they’re expecting.

Though many women might think of as a magical time, it is not always nine months of bliss. Stress and anxiety may run high. And panic attacks during pregnancy are actually quite common. “Up to 10 percent of pregnant women struggle with panic attacks,” says Gina Hassan, PhD, a licensed psychologist in Berkeley, Calif., who specializes in perinatal health.

The symptoms of a panic attack during pregnancy are no different from a panic attack at any other time:

“People feel like they’re having a heart attack,” Hassan says. “Some women feel like they’re going to die.”

Women who have a history of panic attacks are more likely to experience panic attacks when they are pregnant. However, women who have never had a panic attack in their lives may find themselves experiencing them during pregnancy, Hassan says. On the other hand, some women who get panic attacks may find they subside when they are pregnant.

The diagnosis of a panic attack is based on a woman’s description of her symptoms. She may complain of being nauseated, having difficulty breathing, and feeling like she might die. She may go to the ER, where doctors may order tests. “To some degree, diagnosing a panic attack is ruling out other causes for these symptoms,” Hassan says.

Feeling the Stress of Pregnancy

New Moms: Feeling Anxious


Are you pregnant or a new mom? Have you been feeling worried or anxious? If so, this website can help. We are four mothers with a total of eight children between us. Like most mothers, each of us struggled with worries during our pregnancies, and certainly during that roller-coaster first year with a newborn .

On this page:

As mental health professionals, we knew about many web-based resources that help women with postpartum depression, but wondered why there weren’t more resources on how to effectively manage anxiety during pregnancy and the postpartum period. After all, anxiety and worries are so common during this time.

We recommend taking it slow and trying one thing at a time for at least a few weeks. Some strategies take repeated practice, and don’t really “kick in” for a little while. You need to find what works for YOU.

Work With A Therapist

Psychotherapy can help you get a better handle on your panic attacks while pregnant. Your first therapy session will involve talking about your symptoms, medical history, and current life stressors. Through the therapy process, you will gain a better understanding of your symptoms and develop ways to cope with your condition.

Your therapist can also use to assist you in understanding your symptoms. The knowledge and support provided through therapy can help reduce fears related to your symptoms and offer a sense of control of your panic attacks during pregnancy.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most common forms of psychotherapy. CBT strives to shift negative thoughts and behaviors toward healthier perceptions and actions.??

For example, you may be experiencing anxiety-inducing thoughts, such as “Will my anxiety affect my pregnancy?” or “Does it upset the baby when I have a panic attack?” Such thoughts may contribute to increased feelings of fear, anxiety, and panic. Through CBT, you can learn to identify and change these types of thinking patterns to more positive and less anxiety-provoking ones.

How Do You Treat A Panic Attack While Pregnant

Common treatment methods for panic disorder or panic attacks include:

  • Talking to someone you trust
  • Beginning cognitive behavioral therapy or another therapeutic treatment
  • Practicing relaxation and breathing techniques frequently
  • Utilizing coping mechanisms to find which works best for you
  • Taking care of yourself – diet, exercise, mental wellness, and rest

What about when you are in the middle of a panic attack? How do you deal with a panic attack while it’s happening?

Have A Postpartum Plan

You may have heard of postpartum depression, a term used to describe when women experience depression symptoms, such as feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, after the birth of her child. Similarly, women diagnosed with an anxiety disorder are at risk for increased anxiety after childbirth.?? Feelings of nervousness, fear, and isolation are common for new mothers.  

Fortunately, heightened anxiety and panic-related symptoms may be prevented with some preparation. Even though postpartum is typically a busy time for most women, it is important that you follow up with your doctor and/or therapist about your panic disorder. Continue to work on your treatment plan goals, such as managing anxiety, coping with panic attacks, and dealing with loneliness. Having a postpartum plan can help you to maintain progress on your path towards recovery.

Acknowledge The Panic Attack

People spend most of their time in the two wrong places: the past or the future. In the past, you drown yourself in depression. In the future, you’re scared for your life. But in the present, that’s where you can find the most joy. While having a panic attack can be wildly unpleasant, it’s important to sit with yourself in the present moment and acknowledge it.

Tell yourself, “Right now, I’m having a panic attack. I feel scared, anxious, and worried that something will go wrong. However, right now nothing bad is happening right now. I am safe. I feel myself taking a deep breath in. I feel the oxygen entering my lungs. I feel my toes grounded on the floor. I’m shaking my arms back and forth. This moment isn’t perfect but it will pass. Good moments are up ahead. All I need to do is feel this present moment.”

What Causes Anxiety Attacks In Pregnant Women


Every person is different. What makes pregnancy unique is that there are several different issues that may occur when you go through pregnancy that may bring on anxiety attacks:

  • You may have anxiety attacks as a result of hormonal changes during pregnancy.
  • You may have anxiety attacks as a result of the stress and worries of pregnancy.
  • You may have already suffered from anxiety attacks and they become worse during pregnancy.
  • You may simply be at an age when developing anxiety attacks is more common.

Some doctors have found that those that normally have anxiety attacks actually stop having anxiety attacks while pregnant, only to find that they come back once the child is born. It’s amazing the way pregnancy can affect the mind and body both in physical and mental ways.

So claiming a cause and effect with pregnancy and anxiety attacks is not that simple, and certainly cannot be done through the Internet. But there are plenty of possible causes of anxiety attacks related to your pregnancy.

Ways To Stop A Panic Attack During Pregnancy

This is one of the most popular questions I get asked as a therapist specializing in anxiety during pregnancy and the postpartum period. For many women who were accustomed to taking a rescue medication to help ease their panic previous to pregnancy, they may no longer feel comfortable doing so or have been advised by their doctor to avoid use of the medications while pregnant . Or, perhaps you have never experienced a panic attack prior to being pregnant and have no idea what to do when it happens. The good news: there are things you can to do to manage the panic attack

Most Mommas have good success in reducing the severity of a panic attack when doing these 5 things:

How To Prevent Future Anxiety Attacks

When anxiety attacks are caused by hormonal changes, controlling them is possible but a bit more difficult. You cannot and should not stop these hormonal changes from happening, and that means that when your brain creates these panic attacks as a result of your hormones, it’s going to continue to do so until your hormones return to normal.

But that doesn’t mean that you need to live with anxiety attacks throughout your pregnancy. There are several important things to note:

  • Preventing Recurrence Post-Pregnancy It’s important to realize that some people that develop anxiety attacks never lose them, even when they are the result of pregnancy hormonal changes. That is because the fear of an anxiety attack and the experience of an anxiety attack can be severe enough that you increase your risk for triggering them in the future. Dealing with anxiety attacks should always be a priority.
  • Reducing Severity There are strategies that reduce the severity of an anxiety attack even if they do not cure it altogether. The less severe your anxiety attacks, the less they’ll affect the quality of your life and the comfort of your pregnancy, and in some cases they may be easier to control.
  • Stress Control Even though anxiety attacks may feel as though they come from nowhere and that your hormonal issues may be solely to blame, the truth is that stress does play a role in triggering your anxiety attacks. Control your stress and anxiety, and your likelihood of experiencing an attack is reduced.

Effects Of Anxiety On The Unborn Baby

Anxiety during pregnancy can be hard on the mother and can make it difficult for her to function normally. Stress and anxiety can also cause physical changes in the body that may affect or harm an unborn baby. 

has shown that anxiety during pregnancy may harm the baby as the hormones and chemicals released as a result of anxiety can impact growth and development. For example, anxiety can increase the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. Children may also experience problems later in life with learning and behavior or health problems like . 

While it’s helpful for women to know the effects that stress or anxiety attacks during pregnancy can have on a baby, it’s very important to note that experiencing anxiety is not a woman’s fault or the result of being a bad parent. Also, not seeking treatment for anxiety or self-medicating for anxiety can also pose a risk to the wellbeing of mother and baby.

How Can You Manage Anxiety During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an exciting time. You will soon become a parent to an adorable, tiny human. You may expect to experience the rollercoaster of emotions during pregnancy, or emotions may catch you off guard. Some women feel joy at every flutter or kick, marveling at their changing bodies. For other women, pregnancy is hard, giving no reprieve as it brings severe fatigue, mood changes, and constant worries. You may notice that with every passing month, your thoughts are spiraling out of control, affecting your performance at work and your relationships at home. But how do you manage your anxiety, and should you treat it?

What Causes Panic Disorder

The exact cause of panic disorder is unknown. Doctors believe a range of factors play a role in its development, including: 


Certain people are more likely to develop panic disorder and other anxiety conditions if they have a family history of them. 

Brain circuits/chemistry

Anxiety disorders have been linked to activity in an area of the brain called the Amygdala. The Amygdala is home to our Fight-or-Flight response. It’s thought that people on the anxiety disorder spectrum may have overactive or malfunctioning Amygdalas. You can learn more about that . There may be other issues at play as well, such as misfiring stress or dysfunctional systems. These problems are all part of the Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Axis — a complex system of interactions that take place between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal glands.


Traumatic experiences are thought to impact the likelihood of developing anxiety disorders later in life. For example, someone who grew up in a turbulent home may be more anxious than someone who grew up in a supportive one.


Being in high stress environments for extended periods of time can trigger anxiety disorders.

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