Pregnancy & a severe anxiety disorder
July 25, 2010 3:12 PM Subscribe
I'm a life-long sufferer of crippling anxiety/depression. Should I have a baby? Details inside.
posted by Laura Macbeth to health & fitness (31 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I've dealt with severe anxiety & depression since I was seven years old. I've been through the gamut of treatments and psych docs. I've accepted my condition as chronic, and while everything's under control now, I know I'll continue to cycle the rest of my life.
My anxiety manifests physically. When I'm very anxious, I get physically ill to the point of dysfunction. (Dizzy, achy, deep fatigue, flu-like symptoms.)
While I've found the right combination of elements to control my anxiety, if those elements are disturbed for long periods of time, I have difficulty recovering. (Sleep, eating habits, exercise, etc.) I've been checked by several medical doctors, too. No apparent physical cause, so I've accepted this as a psychiatric condition.
Even at the worst of my anxiety and depression, I pay my bills, take care of my animals and plants, and get up in the morning. I'm a caretaker by nature. In these bad times, however, I'm unable to work or leave the house, and I'm in a perpetual state of mental despair and physical illness.
I'm 30-year-old, married, female with a wonderfully supportive husband and I'd like to have baby. Because of the way my anxiety manifests, I'm terrified that I will not be able to care for a child.
Though my condition doesn't keep me from caring for my animals and husband (if he's in need of caring), I'm scared the physical & mental stress of having a child, along with the hormonal changes, will leave me completely broken and unable to care for my child or myself, and will worsen my anxiety/depression. My anxiety/depression has cycled so badly in the past that the idea of reaching a low LOWER than those dips is unfathomable.
I feel like if I disturb the equilibrium I've achieved after years of crippling mental illness, I'll never be able to recover and will do inadvertent harm to my child and myself.
I've nearly resigned myself to being childless because I'm too afraid of the consequences. This breaks my heart as I love children, as does my husband. We want a family.
Have you gone through the same thing? Do you have advice on how to proceed? Though there's no way to predict hormonally what a pregnancy will do to an individual's body, did you have either crippling or surprising mental changes during/after pregnancy?
I'd like to stop waffling and either accept that it's best I go childless, or take the leap and attempt to conceive. My husband is supportive with whatever I decide is best. Our relationship is strong, and will continue whether we have a child or not.
a) I've read Dooce.
b) Medication. I've tried many, many combinations of different medication over the years. I've never found a combo where the side effects didn't outweigh the benefits. For the purpose of this question, please assume medication isn't an option right now, and trust that I've been down that road with professionals. I've accepted that if medication was the only choice, not putting my brain through another course/experiment in meds is more important than having a child.
c) I'm currently in therapy, and actively talking about this with my therapist. I've talked about this with my PCP, too. Their consensus has been that it's risky, but they don't believe I'll be harmful to myself or a child. Great to hear, but I'd love some first-hand anecdotes.
Thank you for your wisdom.