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What Can I Do About a Panic Attack During Pregnancy?

Stress is usually elevated during pregnancy.
Pregnant women who are prone to anxiety should seek their OB-GYN's guidance about how to safely ward off panic attacks.
A panic attack during pregnancy can be scary, but rarely hurt the fetus.
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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2014
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Having a panic attack during pregnancy is not always avoidable, but it is generally harmless to the fetus when it occurs. That said, experiencing a panic attack is very unpleasant for the mother, as is the general state of anxiety that sometimes occurs when someone becomes pregnant. The best thing to do about a panic attack during pregnancy is to calm down using natural strategies, such as deep breathing, light exercise, or taking a shower. There is some evidence that anti-anxiety medications may be safe to use during pregnancy, but medical opinions on this matter differ widely. Taking steps to maintain a relaxing and supportive life during pregnancy is the best way to avoid this problem.

A panic attack during pregnancy is just like any other panic attack, but it is compounded by hormones, fear, and real demands on the mother. Stress is usually elevated for a mother during pregnancy because there are a number of preparations of be made, things that can go wrong, and daily activities to continue. Morning sickness, limitation of movement, and general discomfort can also contribute to a panic attack during pregnancy. As such, it is relatively common for even women who have never had anxiety problems to experience a panic attack during pregnancy.

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Removing these problems is the best way to prevent anxiety from building up. If possible, taking time to relax during the day can make a big difference. Recognizing that stress is happening can be enough to prevent a break down. Talking about the problems one is having with a loved one can alleviate the stress and prevent panic attacks as well.

Panic attacks are severely uncomfortable, and many people can feel a nervous energy before they reach a full attack stage. If this is the case, occupying thoughs may stop the attack. This can be accomplished by distracting the brain from what it was doing with activities such as reading aloud, walking, or playing an instrument. Sometimes, if stress is rising because of concerns about the fetus, talking to the fetus can stop the anxiety from becoming overwhelming.

When a panic attack is happening, the only thing someone can do is ride it out. Panic attacks are usually very short, and taking steps to calm down can make them even shorter. Many people find that a comforting location, beverage, or activity can provide relief from intense anxiety. A panic attack cannot harm either the mother or the fetus, so simply waiting it out is probably the best strategy for overcoming the attack.

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