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first time dad experiencing severe panic attacks


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My wife is 8 months pregnant. Never thought I would have children, but my wife convinced me. I have been experiencing back anxiety attacks. When my wife and I go out for a walk I have to sit down on the curb to gather my thoughts and get my breath-no I do not smoke, not overweight, exercise regularly...It is scary to see my huge pregnant wife not sweating at all to walk around the block and me paralyzed with anxiety that I cannot even go for a simple walk! Went to the cardiologist for a stress test and everything turned out normal. I have read that having a child is a big life event stressor like buying a home, marriage etc. Any other first time moms or dads had similar experiences. I am not sure how much this anxiety and fear is related to my past. I came from a fairly dysfunctional family, and like my 3 brothers and sister, thought marriage would not be a good idea since I did not want to go through the same pain as a child with the parents I had, nor repeat the mistakes they made. My oldest brother is married with no children. I married at 40, and my wife was able through persistent lobbying to convince me to have a child at 46. The fear and insecurity I am experiencing is overwhelming. I just don't believe I have my act together like friends of mine who knew they wanted to get married and have children. I am scared and confused...


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Hi Bernie, welcome. I'm sorry you are having a hard time with anxiety right now, but it's not unusual for a first time parent to have severe anxiety to the point of anxiety attacks. I'm 28 I have two children. My first child is from my first marriage, my second child is by my husband... This was his first child and he was 40 years old when he was born. The whole time I was pregnant, he was absolutely sick! Becoming a parent is an overwhelming experience to anticipate, but guess what...... those anxiety attacks and fears that you have right now, (you may even be experiencing dreams) will disappear within a few weeks after birth, more than likely. Once you become familiar and comfortable with what it's like to have a baby, your father instincts will kick in, and you'll be more confident than ever that you will be a good father, and that you'll do things differently than your parents did. I think we all can look back on things our parents did or ways they reacted and say to ourselves that we will never ever do that to our children.

Have you read the parenting books..... especially "What to Expect When You're Expecting"? There is a special section in this book just for dad's, one of which covers anxiety and how normal it is. Reading the whole book can help you prepare mentally for what you should expect which would make you more comfortable and at ease.

I'm sorry you are struggling so much. Have you went and talked to your doctor or a therapist. Perhaps taking a parenting class would be a good idea. Maybe none of your anxiety has anything to do with the fact you're not ready for kids, maybe it's something in the back of your mind that's bothering you such as your age and fear of something happening.

I hope you find peace and comfort. I'm so sorry you are struggling. Once you see your little bundle of joy, your fears will melt away and love will take over. Congratulations on the baby. There's nothing more specail....:o

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