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Therapists for Anxiety & Depression during Pregnancy
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Therapists for Anxiety & Depression during Pregnancy
Hello BPN community- I'm reaching out because I'm 24 weeks
pregnant and really experiencing a lot of anxiety. I'd love
to get any advice on dealing with anxiety in pregnancy-- as
well as any recommendations for good therapists or
psychiatrists in the Berkeley area. I was on 60 mg of prozac
before I got pregnant, but went off under the advice of a
psychiatrist I trust in New York. I still talk to him weekly
on the phone and he maintains that going back on a low
dosage of the prozac will only make me more nervous (i.e.
because of any potential side effect on the baby). But I'm
really not feeling so good and want to make the most
informed decision for myself and my baby. Thank you so much
for any good advice you can send my way.
You may find that eating more protein, necessary to rebuild
neurotransmitter stores in the nervous system, could improve
how you feel. Both protein and fat can also work to
stabilize blood sugar and prevent the sense of anxiety that
occurs with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
If your doctor can guide you, using 5-HTP, a precursor for
the serotonin your SSRI medication was making more
effective, might also be of help.
I highly recommend the book SCATTERED by Gabor Mate, MD
because he discusses the root causes of anxiety, a major
underlying issue with ADD.
I was truly of the mindset that anxiety would do more to my kid than a little
prozac. I stayed on my 60 mg my entire pregnancy and it was very low stress,
healthy and easy. I totally trusted my amazing NP at Kaiser who has been in the
field for 20 years. That being said, I don't know that you want to start back on
Prozac this far into your pregnancy. What is your anxiety around? If you are
worried about the baby, know that after 20 weeks, the risks of anything going
wrong are pretty slim (like less than 1%) and so I always reassured myself by
saying things like ''There is more than a 99% chance that my baby will be perfect
and healthy''- which in your case is totally true. Tell your doctor, too.
low stress mama
Pregnancy can be stressful, so the first thing you should do is try to have
compassion for yourself and the changes you are undergoing physically
and emotionally. I would also highly recommend a mindfulness based
meditation class. There are many hospitals in the area that offer an 8
week course called mindfulness based stress reduction. I took the class at
Stanford and there were several people taking it who were doing so to
cope with going off antidepressants and antianxiety medications that they
had been on for many years. I attended for different health reasons, but
found the course life changing. Good luck with everything - you'll make it
All the best
You mention a doctor in New York, but I'm guessing you live
in the Bay Area? You didn't say. I had a pretty stressful
pregnancy and I found meditation, warm baths, and getting
out for long walks very helpful for keeping me calm. I would
just sit in a quiet room or my garden in the morning
sunshine with a clock and try to just focus on my breathing
for 10-30 minutes. My mind would race for the first 5
minutes or so and sometimes I couldn't stand to do it for
more than 10 minutes, but I got a lot of benefit out of
learning to quiet my mind and just breathe. If you don't
think you can do that on your own, there are pre-natal yoga
classes with elements of meditation and meditation groups to
join. Long walks got me out of my head and connected to my
body. I would often go somewhere pretty; it made me feel
good that I was bringing my child into such a beautiful
world. Even just focusing on taking slow, even, relaxed deep
breaths when you are feeling anxious can help. Whatever
techniques you can learn now that help you relax and stay
calm will be enormously beneficial to you once you are a parent.
wishing you more calm & serenity
I know an excellent psychiatrist who is also an excellent
psychopharmacologist who ALSO does talk therapy. His name
is Gerry Gelbart, near the Orinda Bart Station,
(925) 254-3652. An excellent counsellor in Berkeley, on
Shattuck, is Johanna Clark 510-549-1336. I have seen both
of these at different times, for years. I applaud you for
getting the help you need at this time for yourself and
planning ahead for when the baby comes, which can be a
stressful time, too!
Some good local resources:
Lee Safran is an MFT in Kensington. She is very
knowledgeable about PPD and perinatal anxiety and
depression. She is well-known as a local resource for this.
http://www.leesafran.com/ She could see you or she can refer
you to someone who can help you.
She referred me to a psychiatrist and an excellent MFT for
my PPD. There are a few very good psychiatrists in the area
with experience in treating perinatal and post partum
depression and anxiety, so you will definitely find someone
good through her!
I recommend you also get the book ''Medications and Mother's
Milk'' by Hale. It goes into detail about medications and
their safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding. I've found
it invaluable in researching the medications I've had to
take for PPD while breastfeeding.
Perinatal and post partum anxiety veteran
There are a gazillion therapists in the Bay Area, as you probably know, but after
experiencing several over the years, I finally found one I love: John Conger. He
has a particular interest in psychology and the body and would be an excellent
resource for someone who has a lot of anxiety (like me). He's very experienced,
eclectic in his orientation, and hugely helpful. He's on 851 Regal Road (off
Spruce) and can be reached at 510-524-8212.
All the best,
Happier and More Relaxed in Berkeley
I very highly recommend a Berkeley psychiatrist by the name
of Craig Fischer (he is with Bay Psychiatric Associates 2006
Dwight Way Berkeley, CA 94704). He is extremely
knowledgeable about using all sorts of psychiatric
medications during pregnancy and will surely be a great help
to you now and during breastfeeding, if you intend to
breastfeed. He is also warm, reassuring and all-around
friendly. I wish you the very best with your pregnancy!
anonymous new mom
I had severe anxiety during my first pregnancy due to
unresolved trauma from a violent rape many years earlier. I
cried with joy when my birth teacher, Nancy Bardake, told me
about the Berkeley therapist Phyllis Klaus, who specializes
in treating pregnant women, particularly those with
anxieties due to sexual abuse and assault. I couldn't
believe such a therapist existed!
Even if that is not your history, I have found her to be a
compassionate and wise therapist around all issues
surrounding birth anxiety and post-partum anxiety, weaning
and couples issues esp. around babies/children.
She has written several books including one on bonding with
your newborn, and is one of the founders of the current
''doula'' movement. No doubt, she will suggest to you to hire
She also uses EMDR to treat PTSD and other issues.
My two births were anxiety-free thanks to her.
Here is a brief bio I found on the Internet followed by her
phone number. Good luck!
I understand what it's like to experience anxiety during
pregnancy. I want you to know that it will get better. I did
take Zoloft for the last two weeks of my pregnancy and while
I was breastfeeding and my baby is healthy and beautiful, so
I'm not against the very helpful step of taking a low dose
of antidepressants to address anxiety. That said, if you can
find a way to postpone taking antidepressants as long as
possible during your pregnancy, I would. Here are some
resources/ideas that you might try:
--Postpartum Depression for Dummies (a great book)
--When Panic Attacks (another helpful book)
--Hypnotherapy (Kathy Woo is a hypnotherapist and her
methods are very helpful: www.kathywoo.com)
--Acupuncture (very helpful)
--Exercise, sleep and a healthy diet (low in sugar and high
Know that whatever decision you make will be the best for
you and your baby. Take care of yourself.
Been there, worked through it
I feel for your situation. Perhaps my experience might help?
I suddenly developed anxiety and panic disorders about week
25 of my first pregnancy. Though I do tend to be anxious at
times, I had never had this level of anxiety. I could not
fall asleep or if I finally ever did fall asleep I would
wake with sudden panic. I consulted my OB, previous
therapist, a Cognitive Behavioral therapist and a
specialist: Anna Speilvogal MD- a psychiatrist who works
with pregnant women at SF General and in her small private
practice. After much thinking, consultation and hand
wringing, I chose to take a small dose of Zoloft. I realized
that my fetus was also being negatively impacted by my panic
and anxiety and lack of sleep so I'd risk the medication. I
stopped taking it one week before my due date and my
daughter (now 11) is totally great! No evidence of having
been negatively impacted. I had no panic attacks for 4 years
until around week 28 of my 2nd pregnancy! Zoloft once again
to the rescue.
mom in Berkeley
I took a low dose of Celexa throughout pregnancy and almost
18 months of breastfeeding. My girl is almost 2 now
(what?!) and just wonderful. No defects of any sort.
It took me a long time to get over the guilt of taking meds
while pregnant. I'm so glad to be completely over it, and
knowing that I did the best thing for myself and
(indirectly) my baby. Both fetus and baby need a healthy
mom! I will continue on my meds through pregnancy #2. This
time I will be confident about my choice. I am a mess when
off meds, and no fetus should be subjected to that.
My psychiatrist had only general knowledge of the studies on
SSRIs in pregnancy, so she referred me to a Women's Wellness
already knew deep down that I was doing the right thing for
the baby by taking meds, but the consultation at the
Stanford clinic confirmed what I was feeling. The benefits
outweigh the risks. And it really helped for my husband to
hear all the doctors had to say. Until that appointment, I
was the one doing all the online research, and talking with
therapist/psych, etc. Maybe you could ask your psychiatrist
for a referral there.
BTW - before/during/after my pregnancy, I saw Dr. Elizabeth
Schenk for weekly therapy. I love her. She is a
psychologist and does not prescribe meds. For this reason,
I also saw Dr. Satoko Miyamoto (psychiatrist) periodically
for meds refills and liked her, too. They are both in Oakland.
Feel free to ask the moderator for my email if you want to
chat or have any other questions. Good luck and congrats on
this page was last updated: Oct 21, 2012
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