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Anxiety disorders and pregnancy: why it's so important to seek treatment

Sep 4, 2018

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Many women experience high levels of anxiety during pregnancy. Dr. Sophie Grigoriadis, Head of Sunnybrook's Women’s Mood and Anxiety Clinic: Reproductive Transitions, shines a spotlight on why it is important for expectant mothers with anxiety disorders to seek treatment.

Dr. Grigoriadis is the lead investigator of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Review the findings of the study in the infographic below

Click to view a plain-text version of the inforgraphic

Maternal anxiety during pregnancy

Many women experience high levels of anxiety during pregnancy. A new study reviewed published research comparing pregnant women with, and without, anxiety.

What we wanted to know:

What is the link between anxiety during pregnancy and the health of the mother and baby after birth?

How can we help pregnant women and their health care providers decide how to treat anxiety during pregnancy?

What we learned:

The good news: There was no link between anxiety (both diagnosed and self-reported) with developing preeclampsia or having a Caesarian section or lower Apgar scores.

But we did learn… That being anxious during pregnancy puts you at higher risk of delivering your baby early, also called preterm birth.

There was also a higher chance of your baby having a low birth weight and a smaller head circumference.

What does this mean for me?

If you're pregnant and feeling anxious, especially if you know you have an anxiety disorder, speak with your family doctor, midwife, obstetrician or psychiatrist.

It is important to get treatment. As we learned in the study, leaving anxiety untreated may lead to adverse outcomes. If you have an already-diagnosed anxiety disorder and are receiving treatment, this should likely continue during your pregnancy.

You are not alone. Up to 23% of women experience anxiety symptoms and about 15% have an anxiety disorder during pregnancy.

Talk to your doctor and get help.

Dr. Sophie Grigoriadis was the lead author of the study and is the Head of the Women's Mood and Anxiety Clinic: Reproductive Transitions at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.