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Don't panic, you're pregnant.

Don't panic, you're pregnant

For 10 years, the 33-year-old woman had experienced recurrent panic attacks when in confined places or large crowds. Panic symptoms, including nausea, tremors and a sense of being out of control, caused her to avoid people and limit her driving. During three pregnancies, however, the attacks dramatically eased and she became less socially inhibited.

Her case, as well as those of two other women whose panic attacks showed marked improvement during pregnancy, raises the possibility that pregnancy has an antipanic effect, report David T. George and his colleagues of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Betheseda, Md. The improvement cannot be explained by medication, psychotherapy or stabilization of the womens' life situations, add the researchers in the August AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY. One possibility, they suggest, is that pregnancy blunts activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which accelerates the heartbeat and secretes adrenaline during panic attacks. Or, hormonal changes in pregnancy may alter barbiturate receptors in the brain and create antianxiety chemicals. Finally, the sense of purpose and self-esteem fostered by pregnancy may help to quell panic attacks. If the finding holds for a larger number of panic patients, say the researchers, the relationship between pregnancy and panic attacks should be fully explored.
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Title Annotation:pregnancy found to quell panic attacks in some women
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 22, 1987
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