If you are pregnant and also have an anxiety disorder, here’s how the mental condition can affect your unborn child.

Yes, anxiety disorders can affect your pregnancy. Stress, which is a primary symptom of anxiety, is common during pregnancy. However, too much stress has been linked to low birth weight, premature birth or neurodevelopmental problems for the unborn child. A mother with anxiety could also experience difficulty progressing during labor.

Approximately 40 million Americans have some form of anxiety, whether it’s social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety or another type of the disorder. Anxiety is twice as common in women than men, which means anxiety and pregnancy are a common combination.

Anxiety Disorders While Pregnant and Addicted

The heightened anxiety at the start of pregnancy is typical because being pregnant causes physical/emotional distress. Due to cortisol level increases, psychological disorders can form.

Anxiety often co-occurs with other mental health disorders and that co-occurrence can lead to depression and substance abuse. The persistent negative thoughts and feelings experienced with anxiety can reduce a person’s self-confidence and lead to depression. Many people who have anxiety rely on drugs or alcohol to cope with their depressing thoughts. Substance abuse to handle depression or anxiety during pregnancy can result in severe health consequences for the unborn child, including:

  • Blotchy skin
  • Abnormal reflexes
  • Poor feeding
  • Unnatural breathing
  • Slow weight gain
  • Excessive crying

If you are pregnant and have a history of anxiety or developed anxiety due to pregnancy, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website can assist you in locating a therapist nearest to you. The Recovery Village offers resources to help people manage their anxiety and find treatment if they struggle with co-occurring substance abuse and anxiety while pregnant.


SAMHSA. “Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.” (n.d.) Accessed February 20, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.