We have all experienced anxiety and worry before, especially during times of increased danger and stress. Pregnancy, while being a happy event, is also associated with an increase in uncertainty and leads to feelings of anxiety. Here are some frequently asked questions about anxiety during and after pregnancy.
Q: I have been feeling more tense and worried since my pregnancy started. Is this normal?
A: It is normal to have an increased anxiousness during a pregnancy. Feeling anxious is a normal response when one is facing any threat, danger or uncertainty. Having a baby is a generally safe process for the mother and baby, but it can still cause anxiety.
Q: What are some symptoms of anxiety?
A: These may include:
- Excessive worrying
- Difficulty in relaxing
- Increased muscle tension or soreness
- Poor concentration
- Sleep problems
Q: Why do we need to manage our anxiety during pregnancy?
A: This is because stress and anxiety, while in small doses, are unavoidable in pregnancy, but if left uncontrolled, can lead to poorer outcomes for mother and baby. The mother can be feeling tense most of the time and this will affect her lifestyle. The baby’s growth might be affected by prolonged exposure to stress hormones.
Q: How do I differentiate between normal and abnormal anxiety then?
A: There is an overlap between the two, but consider seeking medical help if your symptoms are severe enough or the symptoms have continued for more than two weeks. If your quality of life has been greatly affected and you find yourself unable to enjoy your usual activities orperform your usual roles at work or at home, then your symptoms may be considered moderately-intense.
Q: What if I am very well aware as to the reasons for my anxiety? Does that change anything?
A: There may be a very good reason to be anxious, but if you are feel anxious most of the time and for more than two weeks, it is recommended you seek medical advice.
Q: Are there any other anxiety disorders that I should be aware of?
A: Some of them includes:
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, in which one experiences recurrent, unpleasant thoughts or images leading to increased anxiety. In some cases, medication management may be required to control the anxiety. For example, some women reported they keep thinking their baby had stopped breathing and would check on them many times a day.
Some other women experience panic attacks, which are episodes of intense anxiety together with a cluster of symptoms like palpitations, increased perspiring, and a feeling of losing control or collapsing. These may occur on their own or on top of increased anxiety.
Finally, there is also Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Specifically for pregnant women, a previous childbirth experience may have been so traumatic that there is a sharp increase in recurrent intrusive thoughts of the birth, together with feelings of tenseness, and even wanting to avoid remembering the incident.
Q: What treatment options are there?
A: Get a proper assessment. You may know why you are experiencing anxiety, but our case managers and doctors are trained to assess you for any other possible factors which might increase your risk factors for having an anxiety disorder. We endeavour to offer treatment which does not involve medication but medication may be recommended in some cases.
Q: What non-medication methods are there available?
A: Our team of Psychologists and Occupational Therapists can provide information on anxiety, teach you how to relax yourself and provide individual or group therapy for anxiety.
Q: When will I require medication?
A: It is a consideration of the benefits and risks of untreated anxiety versus possible medication effects on mother and baby, and the treatment is customised to suit you. It is advised to seek medical assistance in managing the use of medication during and after pregnancy.
For more information, please contact:
Women's Emotional Health Service, National University Hospital
Tel: 6772 2037 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org