Friday, June 26, 2009

Feeling Fragile

One of my weirdest pregnancy symptoms is an increased feeling of fragility. I am much more aware of risks, and much more likely to think about risks so insignificant that they're rather silly (e.g., the risk of a car crashing through my bedroom window while we sleep). The feeling is not overwhelming or all-encompassing. One part of my brain comes up with these implausible scenarios, and another part is raising its eyebrows, saying "Really? We're going to worry about this?"

I noticed the fragile feeling the first time around, and thought that perhaps this was just a part of becoming a parent- suddenly, my life seems more important because there is a small, vulnerable other life depending on me. The feeling persisted a bit after I gave birth, even expanded to include the fragility of my new baby, but then it faded away to more normal parent worries.

I'd mostly forgotten the odd fragile feeling until it came roaring back at about month 4 or 5 of this pregnancy. This makes me think that the feeling is related to hormone levels and not just the knowledge of impending life changes. This is really annoying (it is not a fun feeling) but also very interesting. I wonder if anyone is looking at the impact of hormones on anxiety disorders? I think (but am not sure and certainly don't have the reference to back this up) that women are more likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder than men. Could it be the impact of our hormones? If so, does the fact that I experience a specialized increase in anxiety give any clues about which hormones are to blame? I wonder if there is anything in this that would help find new treatments for people who suffer from these disorders?

Some times I really miss being more involved in exploratory research. There was a time in my life (even in my post-grad school working life) when I could easily have justified spending a work afternoon seeing what the literature said about all of this.

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