Prenatal Anxiety: Ways To Cope
Some degree of worry is natural during pregnancy. After all, the process may be entirely new for you. You may worry about whether your baby is healthy, have fears about being a good parent, or stress about how your relationship with your partner will change. You may even have faced situations in the past, like miscarriage, that give you a reason for concern. However, if these feelings are persistent and strong enough to interfere with your daily life, this may be an anxiety disorder, a type of mood disorder. Anxiety is very common during pregnancy and can be dangerous if not properly addressed and treated with the help of your support team.
Since there are different types of anxiety disorders, the symptoms vary. Speak with your doctor about any symptoms you experience so he or she can accurately diagnose and treat you.
Some common symptoms of prenatal anxiety disorder include:
-anxiety or fear that interrupts your thoughts and interferes with daily tasks
-panic attacks — outbursts of extreme fear and panic that are overwhelming and feel difficult to bring under control
-anxiety and worries that keep coming into your mind and are difficult to stop or control
-constantly feeling irritable, restless or on edge
-having tense muscles, a tight chest, heart palpitations or experience excessive sweating
-finding it difficult to relax and/or taking a long time to fall asleep at night
-anxiety or fear that stops you going out with your baby
-anxiety or fear that leads you to check on your baby constantly
When these symptoms come on quickly and intensely, you may be experiencing a panic attack. People with anxiety experience the same symptoms and panic attacks regardless of whether they are pregnant or not. However, when you are pregnant, your concerns about the health of your child can increase the effects of your anxiety attack dramatically. That level of anxiety, and the physical effects of anxiety, can have potential risks for your health and the health of your baby.
Depending on personal preference, you and your doctor can choose between many different options of treatment for perinatal anxiety:
The first one being counseling or therapy, where you will discuss your thoughts and feelings with a counselor or therapist, who will help you understand your feelings and cope with your anxieties. You may learn to practice specific techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy.
The second option is choosing support groups: These are groups of people going through similar circumstances who meet in person or talk online to share their feelings and experiences about specific topics.
And the last option is medication: If your anxiety is severe, your doctor may prescribe one or a combination of medications. Your doctor should discuss the benefits and risks of taking medication while pregnant, so you can make an informed decision about your treatment. Your doctor will prescribe the safest medication at the most appropriate dosage.
What You Can Do
Making changes at home may also help you manage your anxiety symptoms. Allow yourself to relax, slow down, cut down on chores and tasks, and put your health and well-being first. Taking care of yourself is vital to taking care of the baby.
Some changes that may help manage anxiety symptoms include:
Exercise is a natural way to increase serotonin levels and decrease cortisol levels. Speak with your doctor to find the best workouts that would be safe and appropriate for you. Exercise classes designed for pregnant women may be available to you.
#2: Eating a healthy diet
Many foods have been shown to affect mood, the ability to handle stress, and focus. Caffeine, sugar, processed carbohydrates, artificial additives and lack of protein can negatively affect your mental and physical health. Ask to speak with a registered dietitian to determine an individualized healthy eating plan that would most benefit you.
#3: Getting enough sleep
A lack of sleep can greatly affect the body’s and mind’s ability to handle stress and cope with day-to-day challenges. Although anxiety can affect your ability to sleep, try to establish a sleep schedule routine so you go to sleep and get up at the same time each day.
#4: Meditation and breathing
Activities such as meditation and deep breathing practices can help your body release endorphins without working up a sweat. It is recommended to do deep abdominal breathing for 20 to 30 minutes daily to help with anxiety. It will help provide more oxygen to your brain and stimulate your nervous system. Meditation can help you refocus, calm down and clear your mind of intrusive anxieties to better cope with any issues.
Anxiety during pregnancy is common. It’s also highly individual, so what may work to help your friend may not alleviate your own worries. Keep the lines of communication open with the people you love, try some stress management techniques, and keep your doctor in the loop.
Taking care of your own mental health is really important, as it can really impact your overall quality of life and those around you.
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