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.
Avni-barron, Orit , MD and Wiegartz, Pamela, PhD. “Issues in Treating Anxiety Disorders in Pregnancy.” Psychiatric Times, September 7, 2011. Accessed February 20, 2019. SAMHSA. “Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.” (n.d.) Accessed February 20, 2019.
Avni-barron, Orit , MD and Wiegartz, Pamela, PhD. “Issues in Treating Anxiety Disorders in Pregnancy.” Psychiatric Times, September 7, 2011. Accessed February 20, 2019.
SAMHSA. “Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator.” (n.d.) Accessed February 20, 2019.