Anxiety during pregnancy

Persistent and worsening mood changes may not be a normal part of pregnancy. If you’re concerned, seek help

Lisa Bendall 0

If you have a change in mood that’s persistent or getting worse, like anxiety or crying spells that come over you every day that you just can’t shake, it might not be a normal part of pregnancy. You may have physical symptoms of panic, such as pounding heartbeat, sweating palms, trembling and a sense of doom. Even the nesting instinct can get out of control if, for example, you’re obsessively and repeatedly washing the nursery walls. And an elevated mood that prevents you from sleeping or pushes you to unsafe behaviour is also cause for concern. These changes could be signs of depression, anxiety or another serious mood disorder, but they’re treatable if you seek help.

“We encourage women to think about what their usual self is,” says Joanne MacDonald, a psychiatrist at Halifax’s IWK Health Centre. “If they find their responses are quite atypical for them, that may be a sign that a larger psychological issue is brewing.” If you’re not sure your emotions are normal, keep a mood diary to track the frequency of what you’re feeling. And talk to your family doctor or OB/GYN, who can refer you to a specialist if it’s needed. Treatment of psychological problems in pregnancy will mean better health for both you and baby after birth.

Learn more about what causes pregnancy mood swings and helpful ways to deal with them.

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