Pregnancy brings with it a host of new health concerns, and for some women, an increase in anxiety. Although it’s usually a joyful event for the mother-to-be, it often brings with it an increased risk for anxiety attacks. In many situations, a visit to the doctor will leave you with a prescription for anti-anxiety medication, but is this type of medication safe for pregnant women? This article will address that pertinent issue, and provide you with a few strategies to overcome your anxiety.
The connection between a mother and her unborn baby is still shrouded in mystery in many ways, and sometimes it’s difficult to determine how much of the mother’s actions have a lasting effect on the child. A recent online ADAA poll showed that 52 percent of mothers reported an increase of anxiety during their pregnancy. Most health experts believe that excessive stress and anxiety can be harmful to the developing fetus, so if you are suffering from those issues, it’s very important that you take action. One would reasonably conclude that now is the time to take anti-anxiety medications, but studies examining potential negative medical outcomes from anti-anxiety medicines on the fetus have been mixed. Generally, doctors will prescribe these medications during pregnancy, but they should be taken with a note of caution. As is the case with anyone taking these medications, they come with the potential for many negative side effects, and are notorious for being very addictive. The American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians recommend that women who have mild symptoms taper off their medicine for six months or longer before conceiving. However, those with severe anxiety should consult with their physicians, and possible stay on their medication due to their heightened risk of relapse.
If possible, you should try to exhaust natural alternatives before resorting to medication as a last resort. You can begin by learning how to breathe properly, as most people breathe far too shallowly. Take a deep breath from your diaphragm, hold the breath for five seconds, and then slowly release. It’s important to practice your breathing technique every day, as it will come in handy during periods of high anxiety. Mindfulness meditation may also be helpful, and you can begin to do this by closing your eyes and focusing on a peaceful, relaxing scene, and paying close attention to how your body feels.
In addition to proper breathing and meditation, you should also consider “retraining” your brain through cognitive-behavioral therapy. In order to this, you’ll have to find a psychologist, counselor or licensed clinical social worker who is specifically trained in this type of therapy. More traditional forms of talk therapy aren’t nearly as helpful to the anxiety sufferer as cognitive-behavioral therapy, because this type of therapy addresses the thoughts that are causing your anxiety in the present, and focuses less on what happened in your past. Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches you how to identify common distortions in your thinking, and shows you how to change those distortions into more realistic and productive modes of thinking. For example, a cognitive distortion that is very common among anxiety sufferers is catastrophizing, colloquially referred to as “making a mountain out of a molehill.” If you engage in this type of thinking frequently, you’ll soon learn through therapy to step back and realistically assess the situation that is making you anxious. It’s important to note that cognitive-behavioral therapy is not the same as positive thinking, as its aim is to lead you into false, Pollyanna-type delusions, but rather to see life through a realistic lens.
In conclusion, you don’t have to jeopardize your health and the health of your body by constantly trying to fight your anxiety on your own. The methods in this article are just a few of the weapons at your disposal, and using them will entail a more serene, peaceful life you and your new child.
“Pregnancy and Medication.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. <http:www.adaa.org> 18 Jan 2012.