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Perinatal anxiety can happen any time during pregnancy, through birth and after, and it’s common to experience it alongside depression. Someone suffering with prenatal (antenatal) or postnatal anxiety may feel tense, nervous and unable to relax. They may also avoid certain situations, experience panic attacks and suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

What are the symptoms of perinatal anxiety?

  • Restlessness
  • Feeling tense and nervous
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling irritable
  • Excessive worrying
  • Avoidance of certain situations or places
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Panic attacks – shortness of breath, feeling light-headed or dizzy, pounding or racing heartbeat, sweating or hot flushes, shaking, tingling, churning stomach, feeling faint
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which includes repetitive behaviours and unpleasant thoughts
  • Nausea (feeling sick)


Perinatal anxiety is a mental health condition that anyone can develop – it isn’t a sign of weakness. You may be more likely to suffer from the condition if you have:

  • Depression
  • Had anxiety or panic attacks before, or have a family history of either of these
  • Been through a traumatic event 
  • Used illegal drugs
  • Been under added stress, perhaps because of financial or relationship issues


There are various treatments you may be offered for perinatal anxiety. These include talking therapy, such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) or counselling. Talk to your GP or midwife about the best option for you.

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    I was terrified of what would go wrong as opposed to what was going right. I had a compulsive need to feel in control.

    Service user

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