Healthy Families BC: Answers to Questions about Perinatal Anxiety

Photo Credit: Unsplash User Sean Roy

Photo Credit: Unsplash User Sean Roy

Healthy Families BC has provided answers to a number of questions to provide help in understanding Perinatal Anxiety and finding help and support to deal with the issue.

The questions addressed in the article include:

  • How is perinatal anxiety different from depression and other mood disorders?
  • How common are anxiety disorders during pregnancy and after having a baby?
  • How to know if you are experiencing a perinatal anxiety disorder?
  • What help is available for women facing a perinatal anxiety disorder?
  • How to get help?

The blog explains the differentiation between postpartum depression and perinatal anxiety, which is characterized by nervousness, fear or worry, and explains that anxiety and its related disorders are the most common of all psychiatric conditions, affecting as many as 1 in 5 women during pregnancy the postpartum period.

The author, Dr. Nicole Fairbrother, a registered psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia and a researcher in the field of perinatal anxiety, stresses the need for respect, compassion and empathy in dealing with women who are living with perinatal anxiety or postpartum depression, just like anyone else with a serious but treatable condition.  This will provide encouragement to seek support.

Dr. Fairbrother notes that anxiety and related disorders include a range of expressions.  “During pregnancy and after childbirth, these conditions may appear as:

  • Fear of childbirth, fear of medical procedures (e.g. needles), and fear of vomiting
  • Panic disorder where are (sic) afraid of the normal body sensations that happen during pregnancy and the postpartum
  • Social fears
  • Worrying often about your fetus or baby as well as worries about other areas of life
  • Unwanted, intrusive thoughts about harm related to your baby
  • Birth-related trauma including repeating memories of a traumatic birth

Anxiety and related disorders can make it difficult to enjoy close relationships, socialize, go to work or function well at work.”

The blog gives information about treatment options, including medication, talk therapy, and self-help materials, and provides links to find information and to access treatment.

Information and self-help materials:

To get treatment:

  1. Speak to your doctor.
  2. Take a look at the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behaviour Therapies (CACBT-ACTCC). The CACBT maintains a list of cognitive behaviour therapy certified therapists across Canada:
  3. See the BC Psychological Association list of registered psychologists in BC along with their areas of practice:
Nelli Agbulos