Nearly all new mothers experience some apprehension about the transition to parenthood, but some women's symptoms reach the point of meeting diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder. Indeed, new research suggests that in the perinatal period—which includes both pregnancy and the first year postpartum—some types of anxiety are more common than depression.

The time is ripe to integrate and evaluate the research on anxiety disorders that occur at this stage of life. This book describes the various ways in which perinatal anxiety is expressed in women, as well as approaches for assessment and treatment.

The first half of the book describes the five main types of perinatal anxiety

  • worry and generalized anxiety
  • obsessions and compulsions
  • panic attacks
  • social anxiety
  • childbirth-related fear and trauma

and presents a biopsychosocial model.

Chapters in this half discuss

  • the nature, prevalence, and effects of each anxiety disorder
  • comorbidity between perinatal anxiety and perinatal depression
  • risk factors for perinatal anxiety

The second half of the book covers the assessment and treatment of perinatal anxiety, including pharmacotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, psychoeducation, and self-help resources.

All of the chapters draw extensively from the research literature, and engaging case studies bring the material to life throughout the book.

This volume will be a tremendous resource for clinical psychologists, counselors, obstetricians, nurses, social workers, psychiatrists, and others who work with pregnant and postpartum women, as well as researchers and graduate students in any of these fields.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Isn't it Normal for New Mothers to Be Anxious?

I. Anxiety in Childbearing Women: Nature and Prevalence

  1. Anxiety Symptoms During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period
  2. Worry and Generalized Anxiety
  3. Obsessions and Compulsions
  4. Panic Attacks
  5. Social Anxiety
  6. Childbirth-Related Fear and Trauma
  7. A Biopsychosocial Model of Perinatal Anxiety

II. Clinical Management of Anxiety in Childbearing Women

  1. Assessment of Perinatal Anxiety
  2. Pharmacotherapy for Perinatal Anxiety
  3. Psychotherapy for Perinatal Anxiety
  4. Self-Help Resources for Perinatal Anxiety

Conclusion: Where Do We Go From Here?



About the Author

Author Bio

Amy Wenzel received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Iowa and completed her psychology internship at the University of Wisconsin Medical School. She has held faculty positions at the University of North Dakota, the American College of Norway, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

She is currently on the affiliated faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and she is the director of the Hope and Resiliency Clinic for high-risk patients and the founder of Wenzel Consulting, LLC.

She has received grants and awards from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.

She has published more than 80 journal articles and chapters and has authored or edited six books, most of which pertain to cognitive behavioral therapy, anxiety disorders, and close relationships.

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