Perinatal Anxiety- The Unnecessary Silent Struggle

EL Hong Kong|June - August 2020

Perinatal Anxiety- The Unnecessary Silent Struggle
Dr Quratulain Zaidi of mind n life looks at the issue of new mothers, mums-to-be and mental health.
Dr Quratulain Zaidi

According to the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 13 percent of women experience anxiety during pregnancy, with around 12 percent experiencing depression; many are affected by both. Women are more likely to develop depression and anxiety during the first year after childbirth than at any other time in their life.

In my practice here in Hong Kong, I’ve found the most prevalent condition in the perinatal period (that is, during pregnancy and after childbirth) is anxiety, or anxiety and depression – not depression only. Yet, perinatal anxiety in conjunction with depression, or as a separate clinical condition, is little discussed and too rarely recognised.

Recognising the symptoms

Perinatal anxiety is anxiety that occurs any time from when a person becomes pregnant to around a year after giving birth. It’s described as a state of distress or anxiety considered distinct from other anxious states because it primarily relates to worries about the baby’s health, and one’s own experiences related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Physical symptoms to look out for

• a churning feeling in your stomach

• feeling light-headed or dizzy

• pins and needles

• feeling restless or unable to sit still

• headaches, backache or other aches and pains

• faster breathing

• a fast, thumping or irregular heartbeat

• sweating or hot flushes

• finding it hard to sleep, even when you have the chance

• grinding your teeth, especially at night

• nausea (feeling sick)

• needing the toilet more or less often

• changes in your sex drive

• having panic attacks

Emotional signals to look out for

• feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax

• having a sense of dread, or fearing the worst

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June - August 2020