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Stress During Pregnancy Increases Mood Disorders for Female Offspring

Scientists have discovered that too much of the stress hormone cortisol in expectant mothers can have adverse effects on female babies, EurekAlert! reports. At high levels, the hormone can cause an increase in anxiety and depressive-like behaviors in the girls by the age of 2, researchers found. This study was different from others in that it was more comprehensive, with cortisol levels being measured over multiple days in early-, mid- and late-pregnancy.

Your body has two adrenal glands located just above each of your kidneys. As part of your endocrine system, your adrenal glands secrete more than 50 hormones, including aldosterone (which helps regulate your blood pressure and blood volume), cortisol and adrenaline, the latter two of which can become overactivated by stress.

When it comes to stress and anxiety, statistics show that anxiety disorders are actually quite common among pregnant women, with around 52 percent experiencing anxiety or depression. Given that there are many hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, it’s easy to understand why emotions may be more pronounced during this time, making pregnant women more vulnerable to stress-related disorders.

But, whether you’re pregnant or not, the good news is there are safe ways of dealing with stress that don’t involve medications. For example, meditation and the Emotional Freedom Techinques (EFT) are two proven strategies that can be done anywhere, anytime you’re feeling stressed.

Meditation can be considered a form of “mental exercise” for your brain. The goal is to continually draw your attention to your breath to the exclusion of everything else. EFT, on the other hand, is a psychological acupressure technique based on the same energy meridians used in acupuncture, but instead of stimulating the pathways with needles, EFT uses tapping with your fingertips along with voicing positive affirmations.