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Increased Anger During Pregnancy?

Ann Badillo, of Palo Alto, CA, stormed home from work one night and hurled her briefcase across the living room. "I can't take this anymore," she bellowed at her stunned husband. "I'm quitting."

Granted, Badillo, a marketing strategist, was under a lot of pressure at work. But she thinks being five months pregnant is what made her lose it that evening. "I'm a passionate person and I've been known to have a temper. But it's been even more intense during my two pregnancies," she says. Fortunately, with the help of a good dinner and her understanding husband, she was able to calm down before she went to bed.

Why do some expectant women see red? You can't blame it all on a hormonal ambush, say experts. "Hormones probably play a role, but there's no conclusive medical data yet," says Lori Altshuler, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Research Program at UCLA.

More significant, perhaps, are the cumulative discomforts of pregnancy. "In the early months some women experience nausea, fatigue, tender breasts, and the fear that something might go wrong," says Clark Gillespie, M.D., author of Your Pregnancy Month by Month. "As time goes on, there's insomnia, more pressure on the bowels and bladder, and feeling overheated -- all of which can contribute to irritability."

There's also a strong link between depression and anger, say experts: Not only are women who swallow their fury more likely to experience depression, but those who needlessly fly off the handle can also wind up brooding later on.

If you find you're frequently furious, try:

  • Walking away. Avoid discussions that'll only make your blood boil -- tell the offending party that you're feeling sensitive and you would rather not talk about the issue. Then give yourself a half-hour and take a stroll, whether it's around the office or around the block.
  • Staying active. Swimming, tennis, walking, gardening -- many types of regular exercise can keep your hostility barometer in check while helping to relieve physical discomforts.
  • Writing it out. It can be very cathartic to vent on paper -- through journal entries, poems, or outrageously nasty letters that you never mail.
  • Taking a mental health break. Whether it's a day off work or a two-hour escape from the kids, pamper yourself: Get a facial, see a movie, buy a pair of shoes.
  • Seeking professional help. If you find your anger is making it hard to function, consider talking to a therapist.

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