22 answers

Anxiety in Pregnancy

I have suffered with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I have been on and off of more medications than I can count, usually with the same result - it either makes it worse, or makes me feel so drugged that I can't function. Pregnancy for some reason, even with the extra progesterone (which is supposed to be calming), makes my symptoms really bad.

I am 10 weeks now with this pregnancy and am feeling really off. My house feels strange to me, I've lost interest in work, I'm having heart palpitations, upset stomach, waking up nervous and sad, and so on. My doc has given me Buspar to help deal with it (it's a Class B med with no known problems in pregnancy). Although I felt better for awhile, it seems to not be working as well now. I'm also trying to get back into talk therapy, but my counselor has retired (I last saw her with my previous pregnancy) and am looking for a new counselor.

I'm just not sure what to do. I'm having horrible overwhelming thoughts like I can't do this again, I'm going to be a bad mom with two children and recently feeling guilt about working. I'm confused b/c I love my job (we do need the extra money right now as we're trying to pay off all extra debt by February), but I choose to work and will likely go back after 3-4 months off with my second. I got really depressed during my last maternity leave and working took my mind off of everything and made me feel normal again.

I don't really want to get into the working mom / SAHM debate, but I do wonder if staying home this time will make me feel better or worse.

Has anyone experienced this? Any other ideas for medications that you've used that doesn't have risk of harming the baby? Any ideas to help calm my nerves and start feeling normal again?

Thanks for your help. I have been suffering for so long in silence and I'm starting to have some really negative thoughts.

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

First of all, wow, thank you all for your support. I have to admit I was very, very afraid to post anything on here because I didn't want to be judged (especially for feeling like I need medication to get through this). EVERYONE's suggestions are just phenomenal. I am taking notes about all the great non-medication resources out there and am looking forward to trying many if not all of them!

Also, thank you for your concern about my wellbeing. My "negative thoughts" are not in hurting myself or anyone else. I just often feel inadequate, helpless, hopeless and alone. I go through the "why me" scenario quite a bit and envy those women who LOVE being pregnant and can deal with hormonal and life changes as if they are all blessings and not traumatic. For some reason, my brain and chemistry does not deal with change that way and it's really easy to get bogged down into the "it's not fair" world.

So, what I have done....I made an appointment with a psychiatrist/psychopharmacologist that I have been seeing for several years. He will get me on the right medication for my head and for the safety of my baby. I also made an appointment to meet a new counselor (unfortunately, I have had one relocate out of town and one retire on me in the last several years). If you have ever had to start a new relationship with a counselor, you know how hard this can be. Especially to those of us that struggle with change.

I'm going to start calling around today about acupuncture, massage and reflexology. I need to see what my insurance will pay, but I'm pretty sure it covers the acupuncture at the very least. I talked to my husband last night and told him I really need his patience and understanding as I work through this struggle. He seemed understanding and agreed to be my rock through thick and thin until I start feeling better.

So, that's where I'm at right now and again, I appreciate so much the love and support I have received through this site. What a welcome and pleasantly surprising breath of fresh air. You ladies are wonderful and should be so proud of what you do to help others!

Featured Answers

Contact Baby Blues Connection. They are a great organization and gave my daughter in law lots of help and good references for counselors who understand what you are going through. Best of luck and bless you.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear N O

I have just gone through menopause (also hormonal) and the anxiety that accompanied that was incredible. I saw more doctors than I hope to ever see again and I don't even want to go into the long list of issues, but the bottom line was the help that I received from a nutritionalist. Just a thought!

J.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Been there. Been on and off SSRIs for years, quit during my first pregnancy and I was miserable but it was doable, what with all the excitement of having a first baby. Then my second pregnancy was an oops, and I went off of the Lexapro I'd been on. Within 2 weeks I was vibrating with stress, short tempered with my toddler, and feeling like I'd spin out of control any moment. After my 20-week ultrasound where I learned I'd be having yet another boy (I wanted 2 girls, thank you very much), I had a massive panic attack one night and took off at 2 A. just driving down the interstate. That was the end of it. I called my OB the next morning and went on 50 mg of Zoloft. It's a class C, but it has 20 years of data behind it now. I did not like being on it while pregnant, but the funny thing is, once it started working I stopped caring and stressing out about it as much.

I took Buspar years ago and found it to be worthless. Talk to your OB about this. And don't settle for those "oh just go get a massage!" responses; this is REAL anxiety, and unless you have it, you just don't get it.

Good luck,
AMD

3 moms found this helpful

I would highly recommend doing therapy along with medications (if you still desire to stay on meds). Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is VERY effective in the treatment of trauma and the associated symptoms, such as anxiety. There are therapists trained in this technique who are very skilled and the treatment actually does not take years to produce real results. The key to this treatment is focusing on teaching the skills (relaxation, emotion management, etc) to manage the emotional response you experience from dealing with the trauma. I have known people who have received this treatment and have had many positive things to say about the outcomes. I hope you find something to make your pregnancy go well.

2 moms found this helpful

wow, sounds like you're doing a good job coping with a lot of things in your life! Hang in there.

I'm not experienced with anxiety, but, i wanted to drop a line of encouragement. I think finding a good therapist is key - someone who can really help you out.

If you're into reading things, you could try looking at dooce.com - its a mom's blog, wherein she writes really frankly about her struggles with a mental illness and being a parent. I think it is encouraging while still very real.

I don't think you need to make a decision about work yet - why not put it on the back burner until you need to decide. Trying to sort it out now is just borrowing trouble - you don't know how you'll feel or where you'll be at that time, so leave your options as open as possible.

In the mean time, hang in there!

2 moms found this helpful

As far as the working/not working question is conserned, I think you have to do what enhances your life the most. I too have alot of guilt about having returned to work and I HATE taking my child to her babysitter even though she is excellent with my daughter. However, going to work really makes a huge difference for my with my anxiety issues. While I feel guilty about the time away from my daughter, I know I am a better mom because of that time away (although I have decided to be part-time rather than full time now) and dealing with my anxiety is best for my family as well as myself. So if I were you, I would really consider if work is contributing to your anxiety, a aid in dealing with your anxiety, or neutral. Use that to decide what is best for you and your family.

Best of luck!!

2 moms found this helpful

Dear N,

First of all, you are awesome for being so aware of how you are feeling, and for reaching out for help.

Secondly -- the symptoms you describe are concerning - especially the 'negative thoughts'. You deserve professional help, and fast!

You are in real CRISIS. And you may be in real danger.

If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, call your local crisis line. They can help!

Anxiety like you describe during pregnancy requires professional assistance to manage safely. I will send the name of a wonderful woman psychiatrist who specializes in maternal psychiatric health. She is so gentle, kind, expert and has the skill and experience to help see you safely through this pregnancy and into your new role as mother of two.

She is in Seattle, I don't know where you live, but if it's too far she will likely be able to help you find someone closer to your home.

Another important resource is the University of Washington. I would call their OB clinic and ask to speak to the urgent care nurse
Maternal and Infant Care Clinic
###-###-####
Website: www.uwbaby.org

Your own OB should have some local resources for you as well.

Please, please find yourself a psychiatrist familiar with maternal psychiatric issues.

Also, it's important that you let people around you whom you trust know what is going on and just how concerned you are. Enlist their help!

Try and not be alone too much, get someone to spend time with your child so you can rest, let your work know there are complications with your pregnancy (if you are ready to do so, you do NOT need to elaborate).

Lastly, I personally found acupuncture, good nutrition, lots of sleep, and exercise helpful during my pregnancy with anxiety and depression. But I urge you to first get psychiatric intervention.

You CAN feel better, and you deserve to feel better!!

Best of luck to you!

2 moms found this helpful

Have you thought about seeing a chiropractor or getting massages while you are pregnant to see if that can help you relax? I know a wellness chiropractor and saw him while I was pregnant with my first and got monthly massages and it was great! I did work for the chiropractor and these were perks of the job, but most insurances seem to cover something in for chiro and massage. The chiro I saw is on the Sammamish plateau in WA, his name is Dr. Kais Faddah and his practice is called Plateau Chiropractic.

http://plateauwellness.com/

He might have massage therapists there that can do prenatal massage, but the lady I saw left to start her own business, her name is Cindy VanWambeck and her business is called Total Relaxation. I found her phone number online and last I talked to her she was working from her home, so if you want to see her just give her a call, she lives in Sammamish.

I've also seen a reflexologist (just for fun for my birthday) but she was incredible! It is unbelievable - I had a back ache and she immediately felt it in my foot and when I left I felt as though I'd had a full body massage. Her business is called Reflexology by Julie and she is in Snoqualmie.

http://www.reflexologybyjulie.com/

It is unbelievable how much all of these things can affect your overall wellness. I was on anti-depressants before I got pregnant with my first, had to go off of them for the pregnancy, but didn't feel like I needed them with the regular chiropractic and massage I was getting, and have never felt the need to go back on them.

I did struggle when I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd because I didn't want to neglect the first at all and wasn't ready emotionally. But I love her and wouldn't change a thing if I had it to do over again.

Also, if you can't find a counselor, I don't know if you are religious or not, but a great deal of churches offer counsel which is typically free. I am mormon and so I don't know how you'd go about doing this with any other church, but I know for us if you go to www.mormon.org you can be referred to the missionaries in your area and if you tell them about your situation they can help you be in touch with the right person.

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I don't think I'd recommend behavioral therapy during pregnancy...too stressful. What I would do is hypnotherapy. It's amazing. Very calming and they should be able to target the anxiety and the worry about pregnancy and work anxiety. I feel your pain. I had lots of luck with hypnobirthing, but I'm not sure if that is going to help with your overall anxiety. It's more about birthing without meds. Highly recommend both though. Good luck and calming thoughts to you.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi N O,
I also have been diagnosed with anxiety and any fluctuations in my hormones (PMS, pregnancy, post-pregnancy) always makes it worse. My anxiety is luckily not too serious so I've never needed more than small doses of meds but I've found that Zoloft works the best for me. I take 50 mg and it's been enough to take the edge off of it. Sometimes I still have racing negative thoughts, but after I talk them out with someone I usually realize that they are unfounded. One thing that I learned was that you don't have to believe every thing you think. Just keep that in mind when you have negative thoughts - you're just thinking of one possible scenario that is being tainted by your anxiety. There are most likely many other less stressful scenarios that are possible.

Hang in there - and be especially aware of our tendency towards PPD. After I had the baby it really helped to have people around me so that I never felt alone - especially other new moms.

D.

1 mom found this helpful

Have your doctors considered that you may have thyroid issues? I don't doubt at all that you have anxiety and PTSD, but I wonder if some of your symptoms may be made worse by thyroid disease. I know when I was first diagnosed while trying to get pregnant, I had some of the same symptoms (anxiety, feeling that I wasn't going to be a good mother, depression). My symptoms didn't entirely go away, but they have been significantly reduced to the point that I don't need additional therapy (talk or meds) to control them. I wish you luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I really don't know what to say, but maybe since you are pregnant and the drugs don't seem to be helping, you could add some other therapies, like hypnosis or relaxation techniques, they can really work. Also, this type of therapy is usually covered by insurance. Ask your doctor.

1 mom found this helpful

I feel for you! I too have anxiety issues, and have had to correct my medication a couple of times. You are so good to be patient and keep trying to find the right fit. Although it sounds like you have had to change meds several times, I'm wondering if you have ever combined your anxiety medication with an antidepressant. I found that when I only took an anxiety med, that I was unable to funtion....as far as being able to get things done. (I never wanted to leave the couch.) However, when I combined it with an antidepressant, it was the balence that I needed to help take care of my anxiety and keep me functional. Just a thought to share with you from my own experience. Hope all the information provided helps you through this difficult time. May God bless you on this new journey with your second bundle of joy! :)

1 mom found this helpful

Everyone I talk to says that having the first child is the biggest lifestyle change, and that all the rest, no matter how many you have and even if you have twins, don't alter your life as much as that first one. So if you can handle one, you can handle two.

1 mom found this helpful

dunno which city you are in

in Portland Oregon, I can recommend Northwest Family Services' Ruth Hayes-Barba

and last I was in (a couple of years now I think???), their other counselor, Angela, had had the training in a very simple and effective trauma therapy that has to do with keeping the eyes moving while you talk about (reexperience) the trauma(s)--this literally helps shake loose the brain connections and allow you to start rewriting them ... I knew Angela in high school, she was one of my favorite most trusted people ever ... but that would of course have made for a bit of an odd counseling relationship ;). As far as I know she has never been married/had a child, and to that extent Ruth might be a better match. She is talk therapy, and she is good at it. Very feet-on-the ground :).

God bless and good luck ... I haven't had diagnosable anxiety, but I have watched friends struggle with it. A tricky situation.

(Neither of my friends have taken me up on this, since I am not a doctor and they both rely heavily on doctors, but I'm going to offer it to you: observationally, anxiety seems to have something to do with adrenaline. One set of why a woman can have overactive adrenals is because she is trying to pump out testosterone (from our adrenals) to succeed in a man's way in a man's world--to stay focused, especially on a career, or to stay alert and on the defensive if she perceives the world as threatening ... anyhow, one friend is very busy succeeding as a man would succeed, and the other I think feels the need to defend defend defend ... and I wonder if their anxiety is a secondary chemical result of their lifestyles ... I know how much 'control' I had to let go in the last few years, and how much less adrenaline (and heart palpitations, and shakes, and crying jags) I now experience ... so I offer a hope for a direction your biochemistry could take ... sometimes it's just good to know that some people have at least one answer to a question the doctors say is unanswerable ... I hope that helped ... )

PS I am SO IMPRESSED by you guys' debt-free plan. I had to do a ten-year forecast when we got our divorce ... it was distinctly odd to track the money flows over each year ... very different than the more abstract "saving for retirement" or the more hum-drum monthly budget ;).

1 mom found this helpful

Contact Baby Blues Connection. They are a great organization and gave my daughter in law lots of help and good references for counselors who understand what you are going through. Best of luck and bless you.

1 mom found this helpful

Anxiety can be helped 1st through meditation and prayer. Get centered. Pray to God for strength. When we try to do everything ourselves, and rely on ourselves we become anxious because deep down we know we cannot control everything in life. Only God can. Trusting in a higher power than ourselves, that He wants good for us in spite of our weaknesses is HUGE in wiping out anxiety. God loves us, is merciful and answerer to prayer. I LOVE the 23rd Psalm. I use the ancient Orthodox Christian prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner" when I get anxious. You can use any of the parts of that prayer - shorten it if you want.

The other thing that can cause anxiety is food allergies and digestive problems. These can cause unexplained anxiety. However, you may want to get some tests to rule it out. I've got allergies to wheat and dairy, and if I eat those, I often get anxiety attacks. Also, stay off sugar (quick high, sudden low that can cause Anxiety attacks) and stay off caffeine, cut out white bread, and high glycemic items. Also try cutting out GMO's - they have been known to stress the immune system which in turn stresses the body, which in turn can cause anxiety attacks. That will help minimize the anxiety problem.

I myself have suffered from severe anxiety attacks, depression and PTSD for years. I had SEVERAL things that happened in life that caused them. You have to face your fear, no matter how bad, not run from it. It's amazing how it can suddenly disappear when you do that. Acupuncture is another way to get relief. Go to a good Naturopathic doctor for your symptoms. They can treat you for anxiety attacks and depression without any risk to the unborn child. PLUS - they look to WHY you are having your symptoms, and look to fix those, rather than just throwing symptom-relieving drugs at you. However, keep the symptom-relieving drugs until they can help you.

It sounds to me as though the Buspar isn't working for you. I was on a variety of medications, including Zoloft, Prozac, Buspar and others. Naturopathic doctors have anti-depressant medication as well that is not harmful to an unborn child.

Also, do something for YOURSELF, such as take a walk, get a massage, to get your mind off all of your challenges. I love to jump on my bicycle and ride REALLY FAST when I'm stressed out.

God bless you, have mercy on you, make His face to shine upon you and your family.

1 mom found this helpful

Hugs to you during this difficult time. It's so good you are reaching out for help. You need support and hopefully you will get some good ideas from all these wise mamas out there. Here are mine...

With my first baby, I used a self-study program called Hypnobabies which helps prepare you for childbirth using hypnosis and relaxation techniques. {visit www.hypnobabies.com] It totally works (if you practice)! It is a wonderful program that helps moms work through their fears using affirming statements to help repattern your mind to a more positive outlook, building confidence and self-esteem. Mind you, it's not designed to help with depression/anxiety per se, it helps you prepare for childbirth and along with that, helps you deal with your anxieties/fears. I think the whole package is around $120 but I can tell you it's totally worth it. You listen to a series of scripts on CDs and you can do it before bed. I guarantee, you will be so calm and relaxed after listening, you will sleep wonderfully.

You might also consider a prenatal yoga class. This will teach you breathing techniques to help calm and relax you. Plus, you'll get a little exercise and movement, which releases endorphins (feel-good hormones), connect with other pregnant gals and have some time to yourself - away from the stresses of home life with toddlers. These are just things I've done and am doing again (expecting #2 in Nov.) that have really helped me keep my sanity.

Another suggestion is to check out www.withinthemiracle.com. Debbie Wagner is a hypnotherapist who specializes in working with pregnant women and PTSD. She's in Seattle and I've only heard EXCELLENT things about her work for healing. Good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful

Your health and the wellbeing of your children are far more important right now than paying off your debt! Your anxiety is strongly affecting both of your children now. Please get help! I would suggest talking to a variety of therapists until you find one or more that you can really resonate with. There are a lot of good therapies out there that specifically address trauma. I wouldn't suggest regular "talk therapy" but rather something that is more holistic and includes the body and deals directly with trauma (such as Hakomi or movement therapy or hypnotherapy or EFT or EMDR or sensorimotor psychotherapy). And of course your connection with the therapist is very important. Right now you are your highest priority. Your feelings make total sense, given your history and your present situation. Also, I'd strongly suggest that you talk with both of your children (including the one in utero) and tell them that you're dealing with some feelings now and that you are reaching out for help and that it is not about them and that you will get help and that you love them very much etc, whatever feels right to you to say. Children (even in utero) can sense what their mother is feeling, and, unless they hear otherwise, tend to assume that it is their fault. I'd suggest taking some time off of work too, to help you deal with this. Good for you for reaching out to Mamasource, and please continue to reach out until you find all the support and help you need.

1 mom found this helpful

Dear N O

I have just gone through menopause (also hormonal) and the anxiety that accompanied that was incredible. I saw more doctors than I hope to ever see again and I don't even want to go into the long list of issues, but the bottom line was the help that I received from a nutritionalist. Just a thought!

J.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi,

It sounds like you need some help. I have post partum depression and am doing much better, thanks to a wonderful therapist. If you live in the Thurston County area, I hgihly recommendTammy Putvin, MA. She specializing in pregnancy and post partum issues. Her number is ###-###-####.

Good luck,

S.

1 mom found this helpful

I guess I'm a little late to this posting but it looks like you've got a lot of great advice and are taking really great steps to help alleviate the anxiety. I just wanted to chime in that you might also consider hiring a doula at this point if you haven't already. Not only are doulas proven in many, many studies to result in better birth outcomes in almost every way across the board, but they can also provide great support during pregnancy and postpartum. This could help you in transitioning from pregnancy to second time mommyhood with one person there to see you through it all.

Good luck, and with such proactive steps as you are taking, you are bound to succeed! The one thing I've learned in life, depression, childbirth, and family raising is that the more help you ask for, the more help you get! :-) Hugs.

I empathize with you and what you are going through. I also suffer from an anxiety disorder which was pronounced during pregnancy. There is an organization in the Portland metro area that helps women suffering from prenatal or postpartum depression and anxiety. The name of the organization is Baby Blues Connection. They offer phone support, mom-mom support groups, and informational packets. They have a website- www.babybluesconnection.org. It is not uncommon for these type of feelings to be exacserbated in pregnancy. I wish you all the best

I suffer from anxiety too and have for years. Like you, sometimes the medications work and sometimes they don't. While you are looking for a counselor do you have friends or close family members that you can talk to? I find that usually helps to lift me up. Or a hobby? Maybe getting into something like scrapbooking, reading, jogging, etc will help relieve some of your anxiety. Do you have a family doctor that can recommend a new counselor? If you do not have anyone that you can lean on please contact me. I am a good listener and have some experience with what you are going through. Hang in there. C.B.

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