It is widely known that mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression have a genetic base. After writing my article “The Missing Link?”, I began to wonder if anxiety itself has more of a complicated starting, specifically during pregnancy. The goal in doing this research was also founded by the fact that my brother and I were born by an extremely anxious mother. Does anxiety from the mother during pregnancy, predispose a child to having anxiety of their own? I found some very interesting results.
One of the conclusions I discovered was a link to ADHD. During the 12th and 22nd weeks, researchers from Belgium’s Catholic University found that it was the crucial time for ADHD formation in concordance to a rise in the mothers’ anxiety. The children were followed and tested when they were around 9 years of age and it was found that the mothers who were more anxious during that stage of pregnancy, had a higher possibility of having a child with ADHD. This is very interesting to me seeing that my brother had ADHD and struggled greatly in school, specifically in his later years of high school.
Another conclusion I found, was that anxiety formed a Hyperactive Hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that is in “control of releasing hormones; regulating; body temperature; maintaining daily physiological cycles; controlling appetite; managing of sexual behavior; and regulating emotional responses” (Hypothalamus). “A study suggests that endocrine disorders, to be significant as the result of increasing the activity of the Hypothalamic–Pituitary –Adrenal axis in response to the high maternal anxiety” (Shahhosseini, Zohreh). This information is very conclusive to me. Not only do I have anxiety, but I also have an endocrine disorder that is a big part of my daily life.
The last bit of information I found is that anxiety during pregnancy actually changes the baby’s brain and how it develops. This changing of a baby’s brain affects how they are able to handle stress and changes their ability to self soothe. The cortisol that is released in a mother from the anxiety, has been shown to create mental health conditions, emotional problems, and even cognitive changes. Anxiety from the mother can turn out to change the baby’s entire course of life. Knowing that I have mental health conditions and a learning disorder from anxiety, this is scary.
I want to make it clear that this article is not about bashing mothers. This article is to inform about anxiety and to make others aware about it’s potential affects. I have experienced at least one thing from each category that I discussed above. Yet, I grew up thinking that what I was feeling and experiencing was normal. This is why mental health awareness and access to treatment is so crucial! Whether we are saving a future life, or helping those live and conquer their problems right now, it is equally important. Anxiety is not a subject to be taken lightly.
I want to give a shout out to my wonderful mom, who despite having intense anxiety during her pregnancies, has been my number one support system for many years now. Thank you for reading this very important article. Is there anything you think that I missed? Please subscribe and I will see you next time my Un-imaginables!
“Hypothalamus: Anatomy, Function, Diagram, Conditions, Health Tips.” Healthline, Healthline Media, http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/hypothalamus.
Shahhosseini, Zohreh, et al. “A Review of the Effects of Anxiety During Pregnancy on Children’s Health.” Materia Socio-Medica, AVICENA, D.o.o., Sarajevo, June 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4499279/.
Wills, Catherine. “15 Terrifying Effects Of Severe Anxiety During Pregnancy.” BabyGaga, BabyGaga, 1 Apr. 2017, http://www.babygaga.com/15-terrifying-effects-of-severe-anxiety-during-pregnancy/.
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