Anxiety disorders

Healthcare professionals should follow the guidelines that NICE has produced on anxiety disorders such as generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive‑compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post‑traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder (see other NICE guidance for more information) but should adapt them as explained below. This is because some of the choices about treatment may be different for women during pregnancy and the first year after giving birth.

If you have an anxiety disorder you should be offered psychological therapy. The type of therapy will depend on your symptoms and the type of anxiety disorder. You should have regular check‑ups. If your symptoms haven't got better after 2 weeks of psychological therapy, you should be offered more intensive therapy.

If you are already taking medication for an anxiety disorder when you become pregnant, your doctor should talk with you about the following options:

  • stopping the medication gradually and changing to psychological therapy (for example, CBT)

  • carrying on with the medication if you understand the risks and you don't want psychological therapy or you've had it before and it hasn't worked very well (you may decide to carry on with the medication and have psychological therapy as well if you and your doctor think this might help)

  • changing to a medication with lower risks if this is likely to work for you.

If you have a phobia about giving birth

If you have a phobia about giving birth (called tokophobia), you should be offered the chance to talk about your fears with a professional experienced in supporting women with this problem.

  • Information Standard