When Pregnancy Brings On Panic Attacks

A panic attack is when someone feels sudden and intense anxiety. It has many physical symptoms. When you are pregnant, getting a panic attack is a serious concern as it has adverse effects on you and the unborn baby.

Pregnancy is what a woman lives her entire life. Motherhood is divine and magical for every woman in this world. Every woman wants to feel happy and blessed, and her family prays for nine months of bliss.

But things are not always lovey-dovey and hunky-dory, as the family has expected them to be. It can take a sharp, unpleasant, and unsolicited turn. Stress, depression, and anxiety may creep in silently during pregnancy. These are common.

Similar Panic Attack Symptoms During Pregnancy

Symptoms may feel like the woman is getting a heart attack and feeling near death.

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Dizziness or Nausea

  • Pain in chest

  • Shaking & trembling limbs

  • Fainting like feeling

  • Increased heartbeat

  • Tingling & churning stomach

Likely Causes of a Panic Attacks During Pregnancy

Pregnancy brings about a lot of changes, especially for the first time pregnancy, from biological to emotional to psychological, and the woman needs to cope. Failing to manage them well or not getting enough support from family members can cause panic attacks.

Hormonal Change & Panic Attack

Researchers linked panic attacks in women to their hormone levels and hormonal balance changes. The body responds to the dramatic effects of hormone levels during pregnancy.

Genetic Predisposition & Panic Attack

Researchers link panic attacks to your family medical history. If someone from your family previously got a panic attack, you may experience it.

Pregnancy Stress

A woman may feel immense stress and anxiety about her future and the baby. Too much stress and anxiety can cause a panic attacks.

Pregnancy in women makes her too much worried about how things will shape up and whether everything will be ok causes panic attacks. Peers and family members can cause stress, too, causing added anxiety.

Snowball Effects on Trivial Thoughts

A pregnant woman can transform trivial thoughts like how many diapers she would need to change into too much worrying. Sometimes pregnant women the third or fourth time may get worried about managing so many babies when they all are toddlers.

They feel they would die during delivery and get worried about what will happen to the baby in her absence.

Other Causes of a Panic Attack

  • Family history or member having anxiety and panic attack

  • A woman had panic attacks in the past or during a past pregnancy

  • Faced with traumatic events, abuse, disturbed relationships

  • Under usage or influence of drugs or illegal medications or heavy doses of medication, ongoing treatments

  • History of episodes of anxiety, depression, and stress

  • Chronic diseases or painful health conditions

  • Relationship problems, money, career-related, unemployment, future income, well-being, etc.

Effects of a Panic Attack on Pregnant Women

Panic attacks in pregnant women typically last 5-20 minutes, but sometimes, from 15 to 30 minutes, affect the ability to move.

The effect may linger when the attack is over. It may interfere and temporarily impair the ability to function immediately after a panic attack.

A panic attack may also interfere with the fetus, as the blood flow reaching the fetus may reduce when women face acute anxiety and stress. It can cause premature labor and a baby’s low birth weight.

It can affect the mother-child relationship and the mother’s ability to cope after delivery.

Help for Pregnant Women Experiencing a Panic Attack.

A professional medical counselor trained in dealing with panic attacks during pregnancy can work with a doctor to mitigate the risk of a panic attack.

  • Counseling and regular health check-ups to ensure the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of the pregnant woman

  • Combining cognitive and behavioral therapies to remove negative thoughts and feelings and make the mother feel positivity by controlling thoughts

  • Mindful exercises, meditation, and a soothing environment help a long way to keep the mother engaged in the present rather than worrying about the future or dwelling in the past. Counselor detects and stops anxiety and stress before they escalate or aggravate.

  • A diet and environment for a pregnant woman are crucial. Avoiding smoking, alcohol, drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks, or being in a room too warm or cold affects mental and physical conditions.

  • Relaxing techniques, deep breathing, and light yoga under the supervision of a therapist keep her engaged and can help calm a woman prone to a panic attack.

  • Doctors may prescribe anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications under supervision but avoid them as much as possible. Medication may help postpartum women who had a panic attack during pregnancy.

  • Combining counseling and medication under supervision may help women in pregnancy or post-pregnancy to deal with any recurrence of a panic attack.

  • Women feel uncomfortable admitting they had a panic attack during pregnancy. But because of non-admittance, they feel overwhelmed with stress. Such women need medical attention and outselling before it escalates further.


Women who experience panic attacks when not pregnant are prone to panic attacks during pregnancy. Those who never had panic attacks in their lives before may experience panic attacks during pregnancy.

Some who get panic attacks may feel subside when pregnant. Well-charted medical care and counseling must be in place to mitigate the risk of a panic attack in pregnant women.

Updated on: 13-Apr-2023


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