Premature Babies at Increased Risk for Depression and Anxiety

According to a new study led by A.C. Burnett of the Department of Psychology at the University of Melbourne in Australia, children born prematurely and with low birth weights (LBW) are three-and-a-half times more likely to develop mental health problems such as depression and anxiety than normal birth weight (NBW) children. Children born prematurely are already at increased risk for physical health problems, learning disabilities, and other cognitive challenges. Some research has provided evidence that children who are born prematurely are at a higher risk for behavioral problems and even attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But until now, there has been little evidence suggesting that these children are also more vulnerable to mood disorders and mental health problems later in life.

In order to examine the relationship between LBW and mental health problems, Burnett analyzed previous studies and looked specifically at prematurity/LBW and how it influenced the development of anxiety and depression in adolescence and young adulthood. Burnett assessed data that was published between 1995 and 2010 and included individuals born prematurely with LBW, ranging in age from 10 to 25 years old. After review, Burnett discovered that children who were born prematurely and had LBW had a significantly higher risk than NBW peers, for the development of psychiatric problems later in life. In particular, the study revealed that the LBW participants were three times more likely to develop an anxiety or depressive disorder in adolescence or young adulthood than those who were born full-term.

The results of this study, the first of its kind, have significant clinical implications. Burnett believes that professionals treating the physical and cognitive impairments in LBW children should be aware of the negative psychological predisposition that these children possess, paying particular attention to mental health needs during adolescence and young adulthood. Burnett added, “The studies reviewed here indicate that, in addition to monitoring and management of medical and cognitive sequelae, the psychological well-being of formerly preterm individuals should be a key part of ongoing care in collaboration between clinicians, individuals and their families.”

Burnett, A. C., Anderson, P. J., Cheong J., Doyle, L. W., Davey, C. G., Wood, S. J. Prevalence of Psychiatric Diagnoses in Preterm and Full-term Children, Adolescents and Young Adults: A Meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine 41.12 (2011): 2463-474. Print.

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • George

    February 3rd, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    You know, I have learned a lot from the reading that I do here and at other sites. But sometimes I do kind of feel like with some sub groups we are pigeonholing them into a box and are just setting them up to become something that in essence they don’t have to become, but we expect that so they do! It frustrates me, because I honestly feel like there are so many people who have potential but we have said bad things about them all their lives so that is what they have come to believe and will become! Can’t we just let things develop as they will and encourage rather than impede?

  • David

    November 29th, 2016 at 5:38 PM

    I was born 2 months premature. I am now 26 years old. I am an only child, so I guess the sole focus of my parents’ attention was me. I did reasonably well in primary and high school, but always felt “different” and slightly “off.” I am quite neurotic by nature, sometimes struggle with anxiety, and probably have some sort of ADD, which I am currently getting a look into. Im not particularly hyperactive or disruptive by any means, I just can’t sit still for long periods, get distracted by almost anything and am constantly looking and observing the external world – constantly looking for some sort of stimulation. So I guess not being cooked in the oven long enough may have contributed to this; I don’t really know for sure

  • kalli

    November 30th, 2016 at 8:25 AM

    I’ve posted before but I’m 30 and was 4 months premature. I struggle with anxiety and even wake up with anxiety attacks! I have trouble staying stimulated at work and when I get bored I usually resign. I am fairly intelligent but struggle to stay on task and always am afraid of being stuck and unhappy. Emotionally I am very off, I am very cool and aloof even though I come across as caring, I’ve worked hard at it for years. I can’t tell if I’m more of an extrovert or introvert (like it matters) but for job purposes it does. I am very independent (only child here, parents and family doted on me) but I grew up decently adjusted and not bratty. I’m definitely not needy and have trouble in my marriage showing affection and closeness. It’s not very fun. I’m considering counseling or therapy to help with anxiety since I can’t do much medication. I hope we can all cope and even though most don’t understand, we know we aren’t an island anymore and have others we can talk to who get it.

  • Earl

    February 3rd, 2012 at 7:59 PM

    Why do premature births/low weight births actually happen? Is it due to a complication in the pregnancy or is it something that is determined during the formation of the zygote itself? If it is the latter then we may just have enough time to do something about it I think. What do the others think?

  • Renee

    September 17th, 2019 at 4:39 PM

    I’m a mother of a 31 year old (24 week) daughter. She came early because my cervix could not hold a term baby. She is struggling with depression, anxiety and its hard for her to show affection. She really needs to talk with other people that have the same issues she is going through. If anyone has or knows of any groups, I’m afraid she some day do something that will end her life. Thank you for any help. Renee

  • Maureen G

    February 4th, 2012 at 5:41 AM

    George, in some ways I agree with you wholeheartedly. It is not fair to determine that someone is going to have problems even before they show the signs. However I think that this is simply suggesting that we take a more proactive stance to preventing these kinds of things from occurrin if we can. That means keeping an eye on the situatons as they present themselves and being on the ready with tools and resources that we can utilize to help prevent as much of this as we can. It will not always work, but sometimes it will, and we have to at least try to make a difference if we can/

  • Jemma

    February 5th, 2012 at 5:31 AM

    I wonder if these children learn from their parents that they were born early, that it was early and scary, and that this could influence their own future behavior

  • JB

    April 4th, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    Thank you thank you for this article. wish my parents and & I had been told this by my various medical professionals when i was a child. i was born premie at 2 lbs 31 years ago and have had anxiety and depression problems that have been mislabeled by mental health professionals. it’s a fact that premies brains are just cognitively and structurally different (in my case the bridge between my left & right brain hemispheres is very small, I have problems with spatial ability but I have well above average IQ). Each brain is unique and it’s not a one size fits all solution for everyone dealing with depression & anxiety.

  • del

    July 27th, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    Reading the comments leaves me feeling pretty riled up. Someone does a medical study that measures a correlation between premature birth and increased risk of depression and anxiety.

    No one said “if your child was born premature they will become depressed and anxious. George and Maureen , you are choosing to respond to a generalization that wasn’t made. My reaction is influenced by my own experience. My 10yo son was born at 37 weeks- my wife was bored with bed rest and wanted to get his birth over and done with, thinking there was no risk. He was a healthy , sweet baby and had a great time until the age of 7. He is intellectually gifted, but struggles with acute anxiety. Its sad to see a sweet boy burst in tears many times a day. We dont know the root cause – perhaps his birth weight has nothing to do with it? or maybe it does?

    But more research can lead to greater more understanding that can help boys like my son. I am acutely aware that he *might* be on a path that leads to a painful future.

  • Bob

    August 3rd, 2012 at 2:22 AM

    Must say that I finally found the roots of my problems which I am trying to beat from my 15 years. I have got depressions, anxiety dissorders, psychosis and bipolar dissorder. I am on medication from my 15 years old, now I am 35. I was born in 32 week with birth weight sligthly below 1 kg…

  • kalli

    October 21st, 2016 at 8:02 AM

    I am 30 years old and was born at 20 weeks. (4 months early) my math is horrible. I weighed 1 lb 8 oz, stayed 6 months in NICU. Thankfully I am pretty healthy, hit milestones and graduated with honors in high school and college. I am married and work. I struggled with anxiety my whole life from having what we know now as separation anxiety and having anxiety attacks daily until 5th grade; (some of the problem was an external factor of losing many loved ones while @ school). While the anxiety attacks have lessened, lately I have had more than I’ve had in almost a decade. I’ve had some more health issues but I am very thankful and blessed to be here.

  • Mary

    November 13th, 2012 at 4:29 AM

    THANK YOU FOR THIS STUDY!!! My daughter has been struggling with deep depression for a few years now and is 17. She is on meds, sees therapist and is in a day treatment program at Rogers Memorial right now. She was born 32 weeks weighing 2 pounds 11oz. She is very intelligent but as of yet has not been able to understand or beat this depression. The cognitive development key here may be our hope to understanding a bit better. Any suggestions, comments that can also aid us I MORE THAN WELCOME.THANK YOU!

  • Victoria M.

    July 8th, 2016 at 7:34 PM


    How is your daughter doing?


  • Mel

    December 6th, 2012 at 4:00 AM

    I am 30, and was born at 26 weeks gestation. I feel I have struggled with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. For me it is almost good to understand that there might be a reason for how I’ve felt, and that I need to learn to live with it, rather than listen to others who expect me to just be able to get over it one day.

    Mary, maybe your daughter could try something like MoodGym, which is an online initiative that uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help people recognise and challenge negative and unhelpful thoughts that may otherwise contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety.
    Sorry for the late reply. If you ever need to talk, just let me know :)

  • Victoria M.

    July 8th, 2016 at 7:35 PM

    Thanks for this, Mel!!! :)

  • Elizabeth

    January 25th, 2013 at 7:56 AM

    My 17 year old daughter was born at 27 wks weighing 2 lbs, 7 oz. We always considered ourselves fortunate that she seemingly suffered no long-term effects; however since the 5th grade she has suffered from acute anxiety to the point she is now in therapy,on medication, and homeschooled. She is a beautiful, intelligent girl and we are grateful for each day. I have always had a suspicion that her prematurity may have been the cause of this anxiety disorder and this study validates that for me.

  • Laura

    February 12th, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    I am 26 battling depression and anxiety since I was 14, I was born at 22.5 week gestation and weighed 1 pound 5 ounces, was supposed to be born blind, deaf and have CP, 20% chance of living. After researching, I may have found my answers as to why. This site, it may have saved my life. SO THANK YOU

  • Charity

    June 15th, 2015 at 6:50 PM

    this is Amazing information! I was 26 weeks gestation.. Have CP, anxiety and depression. 40 yrs old. I asked my counselor last year if my premature birth and first 3 months of life being in incubator could have contributed to my anxiety…. She didn’t know how to answer that!!!! Also have osteopenia… Prob complication of preemie too.

  • Tory

    February 10th, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    Hi all,
    I was born at 27 weeks and weighed 1 lb. 12.5 oz. I am twenty years old, and have also suffered from anxiety, to the point where sometimes it seems like I just overanalyze everything.

    I am just now learning to live without anxiety and manage my work and studying better.

    I feel that all of you are kindred spirits and we may understand what each other are going through!


  • Kalli

    April 7th, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    Hi everyone!
    I was born at 24 weeks and weighed 1lb 8 oz. I stayed 6 months in hospital and am legally blind (but have decent sight thanks to glasses). I also was diagnosed 2 years ago with fibromyalgia. I am now 28. I am pretty smart, but suffer with high anxiety, even though I’m a laid back person. I also have battled with depression. But I’m still here and that’s a miracle!!

  • Lori

    April 22nd, 2014 at 5:54 PM

    I am 46 and was born at 32 weeks. I weighed 5lbs. I have suffered from anxiety for most of my life.

  • Alicia

    April 30th, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    Hi all – I’m another living example of what this study describes. I was born at 27 weeks gestation and was 3 lbs when born. I stayed in an incubator for 6-10 weeks (my parents disagree how long it was). Ever since the age of 11 I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression. I started getting OCD tendencies and then fell into a deep depression. I had to take antidepressants in middle school and that helped. I was also pretty antisocial and never wanted to get involved in anything. I was very shy. Does anyone else have those social experiences? In all of my little kid pictures I also noticed that I look particularly angry. Apparently I was a very moody little child. I remember being very shy and angry all the time.

    I continue to suffer from anxiety and depression and sometimes feel overwhelmed and like I’ll never be able to escape them. I also struggle with the idea that being in an incubator for so long without normal human contact (most babies are being held by their mothers for hours and hours each day in those first few months whereas my mom was only allowed to hold me for 10 minutes) may have had some affect on me now and my ability to allow a deep connection with anyone. Anyone else have this experience?

  • Lea

    May 23rd, 2016 at 6:10 PM

    I was born 3 months early. Weighing at 1 pound 12 ounces. I am a premie. I was in the hospital for 6 months. I am
    14. And so I have battled (secretly) anxiety and depression for a while. When I was little, I was very angry. (Still am) I used to have these horrible tantrums and was always mad and irritated. I still have temper tantrums at age 14. And I am still angry. All the time. My parents recently found out that I have been feeling sad. But they never said anything about depression until I looked it up myself. It’s scary. So no your not alone anyone. It’s ok. It gets better gradually but surely it does.

  • Victoria M.

    July 8th, 2016 at 7:39 PM

    You will be able to connect when you find the right person! Many people struggle with anxiety. The key is often spending time and energy on and with those who love you, care for you and treat you well.
    I also tend to make lists of the good things in my life and my strong attributes and positive qualities to remind myself that everything is going to be okay.

  • Leslie

    August 3rd, 2019 at 9:04 AM

    My daughter was born at 30 weeks due to severe Pre-eclampsia weighed 3 lbs, there was no choice but to deliver early or we both would have perished. She is now in middle school and her personality deeply concerns me. She has OCD tendencies and also seems unfriendly and detached which is very frustrating to me because I feel it will impact her social life directly and I don’t like making the excuse that she is “shy” all the time, it seems to be much more of a personality disorder. I’ve often thought that there is a link due to her being in the NICU for 6 weeks. I visited with her daily and spent as much time as I could nurturing her for several hours daily but, I also had an older child at home that needed attention as well. She has been in therapy for this very issue and I’m just told by the therapist that it’s “learned” behavior we end up answering for her when someone asks her a question because she just stands there and refuses to say anything. I get that but, it’s so frustrating to watch her act so unfriendly, she comes off as unlikeable and it’s just frightening and heartbreaking. At least I know I’m not alone in seeing the correlation between preemie status and mental health/personality disorders that can and do develop as a result of preterm birth. It does exist and I’m just hoping to find a way to fix this for her so she can be a well adjusted adult.

  • Emily

    July 14th, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    To Alisha above me:
    I have had these suspicions as well concerning myself since I was barely held and touched with a rubber glove for sterilization through an incubator in my early weeks of life. I agree with the moodiness growing up and being antisocial – I now realize all of my over-the-top worrying and reactive behaviours were probably connected with the anxiety and I do think the lack of physical connection had a big effect on this. I have always felt that there was something inherently different or wrong about myself, and I believe one of those reasons is changes in cognitive growth compared to normal babies and its ability to make me unable to form true, strong connections with others like yourself.
    I hope this helps a little bit since I have been thinking about this for a long time and have similar experiences to yourself!

  • Ellie

    August 9th, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    I’m now 21, as of July 5th. Was born at 24 weeks and have always suffered with severe high anxiety about everything and everyone – it’s do interesting reading on here – Alicia, who mentioned the fact that your mother cannot hold you. The same as my mother: I spent 5 1/2 months in special care, incubators, wtc, you guys know the scene! Again, because I was so ill, my parents could barely hold me for longer than 10 mins. I’ve always over analysed everything, and my relationships where I like someone have always been so so hard – I think because I’m afraid to trust anyone: retch. I felt, reading these, that someone finally understood!! How are preemies brains so different to full term: what happens to us that we become neurotic, highly anxiety etc? These problems have got progressively worse as I’ve got older and I’ve finally hit a severe depression: on anti depressants etc. I feel kike someone finally has put my thoughts into words reading thes comments!

  • Juan

    August 15th, 2014 at 11:54 PM

    Um all theses comments make me wana cry because I’m the same way and I feel like I’m all bottled up inside plus my flaws make me even more depressed and I wish I was just normal :’/ I don’t even know how I made it this far now that I realize

  • Dee

    August 28th, 2014 at 8:14 PM

    I so appreciate this posts. My son was born at 32 weeks and weighed 4 pounds 10 ounces. He is now 16 and after prompting from his doctor, finally admitted that he has been depressed since he was 12 or 13. I had no idea. Over the past 2 years, I had noticed him become more withdrawn and antisocial and seemed more and more unhappy. He doesn’t like to leave his house, stays in his room most of the day, playing computer games. He refused to talk about what was going on with him. He lost over 30 pounds in 5 months, and still, it didn’t occur to me he was depressed. He told me he doesn’t know why he just can’t feel happy. This broke my heart. But I am glad he finally told me after holding it in for 4 years.

  • Deanna

    May 18th, 2015 at 11:51 AM

    Good for you, mom for getting him some help! I just turned 38 a few days ago and I’ve just recently learned about this. I was a 32 weeker. I weighed 2 lbs. 10oz and have suffered for years from a roller coaster of emotions. I was about your boy’s age when I really started struggling with depression and my uneducated parents didn’t know much about it and thought I was just being a hypochondriac drama queen who cried all the time, begged for attention, and was never happy. In truth, it was the total opposite. I hated the way I felt, I wanted to be happy and I wish my body didn’t hurt. It’s rather nice to know I wasn’t actually crazy!!

  • Kianna

    October 14th, 2014 at 7:40 PM

    Im 24 years old and that explains why ive been having terrible anxiety all these years! I could never understand why I got it so bad but now I know! Now I need to find a way to get rid of it and get back to being normal and not having the feeling of being trapped or scared to do anything! Only God can help me now

  • Christina

    December 16th, 2014 at 5:49 AM

    I’m right there with you guys, born at around 25 weeks I was isolated, could not be held except to be dangled and ‘patted’ when I would stop breathing. My twin brother was so underdeveloped that he died of complications when we were 18 months, out of the woods you would have thought. At 28 I’m looking back on years of separation anxiety(terror), periods of GAD and anxiety related procrastination which led to more anxiety and so on. I just have to look forward with an eye on what disasters I’ve expected in the past and not experienced and a view of what will be, will be. Prayer and trusting in God to be looking for my best interests and leading me away from sin is the main thing that’s got me this far. Guys, it’s a MIRACLE of God that we’re even alive, some premmies are just stillbirths. God preserved us for a reason, search him out! His love is so much stronger than any human love you may have or have missed out on. He will carry your burdens, forgive your sins and change you from the inside if you let him. Jesus died in our place to make that possible, the first death comes to us all, but the second death will not touch those who trust in Jesus.

  • Deanna

    May 18th, 2015 at 11:37 AM

    Absolutely, Christina! Jeremiah 29:11 speaks volumes

  • Charles

    June 1st, 2015 at 4:22 PM

    Can you help me on what you did to have a true relationship with Jesus? Im 27 weeks preemie and struggled with anxiety, pessimism, and depression all my life. I was born believing in a semi christian family but right now im having a hard time dealing with myself.

  • Charlie

    June 16th, 2015 at 4:54 PM

    Hello Can I contact you. Just wanting to talk to another preemie about this issue we face

  • Charlie

    June 16th, 2015 at 4:54 PM

    Just wanting to talk to another preemie about this issue we face. Mind if I get in touch with you or anyone else here?

  • Christina

    August 18th, 2017 at 3:31 AM

    Hi Charlie,
    I hope you’re doing okay. I’ve just come across your reply to my comment. It’s been a long time since I was a Christian now and I actually feel much less anxious as a result. Through a huge amount of study encouraged by my church (oops church!), I came to see how insubstantial the evidence was that Christianity was any more than a disparate set of conflicting myths just like all the other religions of this world. Now that I no longer feel that I am inherently evil, in need of a saviour and under constant surveillance I don’t look at myself so harshly or feel that everything in life is so crucial or a potential disaster.

    What I would suggest you do is write a brief history of your life and then read it as though it’s about someone else. It really helps to give you a level of compassion toward yourself. This is not the same as self pity either so don’t worry about that.

    I have discovered that I have ADHD which is a developmental disorder which is associated with low dopamine levels in the brain. This is a disorder which often appears alongside either dyslexia or dyspraxia and can leave people feeling like they are always playing catch up in life. I felt like a dreadful, lazy failure for most of my life as a result of something I now know to be a common and treatable issue.

    I hope you have found some help since your comment and sincerely wish you all the best. I also recommend you to read a book called Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. I am reading it at the moment and it is facinating, we really are creatures of this planet and I have found I would love to understand better who we really are as a species. It seems to me we have not fallen from grace, but are now struggling to rise into our full potential.

  • Andrew P.

    March 23rd, 2015 at 7:50 AM

    I was born 2-3 months premature. I spent the first year of my life 8n and out of hospital and in a humidicrib (I now have a high tolerance to humidity). I have scars under both armpits and my cheeks from all the tubes. I have a speech impediment but after 20 years of speech therapy it’s much better. When I was younger I had a lot of Occupational Therapy to improve my coordination (which still isn’t great).

    I’ve had issues with anxiety and depression and feel like I’m “coming from behind” with my development. It’s improving but I often feel inferior to “normal” people, not helped by being very hard on myself. I’m trying hard to better myself but it’s a struggle sometimes.

  • JoAnn H

    April 29th, 2015 at 12:52 PM

    I was born in 1952 two months premature and i’d like to know the complication physical and mental and a premature baby tomorrow would have been then compared to now in 2015

  • Sandra W

    December 22nd, 2016 at 8:29 PM

    JoAnn H… I was born at 28 weeks in 1952. I have been looking for the same info you seek also. I never considered the impact of my birth until this year. My parents told me little about my birth but I read that incubators were new in 1952. There was no equipment to help with breathing or feeding except thru an eye dropper. Many babies went blind from too much oxygen. I do not know if I was in one or not My parents were over protective and I coped with fears of abandonment and not feeling bonded to my family and difficulties feeling like I fit-in. It’s been very helpful reading these posts as I’ve never met another person my age who was born premature.

  • Kristy

    May 19th, 2015 at 8:19 PM

    My daughter was born at 25 weeks, weighing just 1lb 3 oz. She was in an incubator for 3 month on a high power ventilator and couldn’t be held. She is almost 5 and also suffers from heightened levels of anxiety and separation anxiety with only me. We are starting therapy with her next month and I am hopeful that it will help, especially since we have caught it early on. Any suggestions on strategies that have work for any of you?

  • benny m

    June 3rd, 2015 at 9:39 AM

    My daughter has significant depression and anxiety,she is 19, born 1.750kg at 38 weeks, should I tell her the source of her depression is being born preterm?

  • Earl J.

    July 23rd, 2015 at 8:36 AM

    I was born at 26 weeks, one pound and change…to be honest, it’s a hard life, and people are so judgemental with total ignorance regarding the struggle we face. I have struggled socially in regard to friendship and especially love – being nearly blind in one eye, lacking depth perception did not make social situations easier. I do not have CP nor am I low-intelligence, but I suffer from depression, anxiety, severe soul crushing loneliness – this has been my world on and off again since around 7 years old, some years have been wonderful, other years horrificly painful. I am 32 now. I would like to set up some type of Facebook group, or something – I think we could all help one another in ways others perhaps cannot, due to our extremely similar experiances.


  • cayla

    August 18th, 2015 at 12:01 AM

    I was born premature for 7 months and i was incubated for 2 months. Now I’m 13 dealing with depression and anxiety. I often think negative thoughts.

  • Natalie

    September 26th, 2015 at 9:47 AM

    Hi, I was born 2.5 months premature and I have had anxiety and depression since I was 12. I am now 24. I wish I knew about this when I was younger. Does anyone know why it happens? How come doctors never say anything? :(

  • M. L. O

    October 24th, 2015 at 6:41 AM


    I am a 35 year old man who was born after 7.5 months. Throughout my adult life I have never been able to establish friendships. People I meet look up to me and respect me and I’m told I have a beautiful personality and even my psychiatrist is amazed of my ability to grasp things, yet through my life as an adult I don’t think I have had a visitor in my house and I don’t receive phone calls from anyone except my mother, work or phone salespersons. . . I have never really known anything else than loneliness. I feel there is a part of me that did not get a chance to develop. I avoid people and conversations, yet I would still love to be able to take part and feel the urge to socialise, but I’m just not able and feel akward and uncomfortable in every situation. I have ended up as a functional alcoholic with a lot of inner conversations. I have long suspected some of these issues of social anxiety may be caused by me being born too early.

  • layalli

    March 16th, 2017 at 1:22 AM

    Hi, my daughter was born at 26 weeks weighing .765 grams (1lb 10 oz) soo very tiny and she was in hospital 3 months. Ever since aged 4 she has had anxiety, she is now 11 and we have just decided to medicate her after 8 long years of trying everything else we can; cognitive therapy, meditation, Linden Method, lavender, oils, aromatherpy etc etc . Now she is doing somuch better, and this is also where I learnt that being a premature baby was a major factor in her getting anxiety. She is now doing really well (on meds) and we go back to doctor for check up next week. Am so very happy. And knowing that being premature had a large bearing on causing her to have anxiety, has helped me a lot.

  • Heather

    August 17th, 2017 at 7:22 AM

    My daughter (now 22 years old) was born at 28 weeks and weighed 2lbs. She had the odd medical issue growing up but nothing major but now has major anxiety and is generally terrified of new people and although she is going to uni doesn’t have any friends and shuts herself in her room most of the time. She is very bright but at present is unlikely to be able to use that intelligence because I don’t think she will be able to cope with work. She has never had help with this and people I have spoken to don’t see any connection with her prem birth – coming across this is a real revelation.

  • Ken D

    November 29th, 2017 at 4:34 PM

    Just wondering if drugs used to stop premature delivery could be the cause of childhood anxiety. One of our sons has suffered from anxiety from a very young age. He was not born prematurely but labour was stopped using drugs twice. Both at twenty weeks and again at thirty six weeks. I haven’t been able to find any information to suggest this could be a possibility but, over the years, we have met two other families with children that have anxiety problems and in both situations the mothers had gone into premature labour and had it stopped using drugs.
    Has anyone else had similar experiences?

  • Mark G

    April 17th, 2018 at 11:48 PM

    Hi, I’m a 21 Year old male and have been born at 24 weeks and was in the ICU for 3 months and suffer from
    anxiety and depression, it is a tiring and lonely battle that we must endure, I personally believe that God will get us through this suffering and that we must rely on God, I have had anxiety since 13 years old and also suffer from partial blindness due to premature birth, I also struggle to make connections with regular people it seems, maybe a preemie out there wants to talk and relate better, some days are good some days are bad gotta keep fighting thats all I know

  • VIctoria

    April 18th, 2018 at 7:12 AM

    Hi Mark victoria here, genetic anxiety and depression and also situational. Have glasses but got lucky w the eyes. 27 week’s. I feel you. Hang in there. Do you have support? Family, friends, psychiatrist or therapist, any kind of source of care and kindness/relief?

  • Mark G

    April 18th, 2018 at 4:14 PM

    Hi Victoria, how are you? Definitely have family support but don’t talk to them much I tend to isolate, I’m trying a psychiatrist out but they don’t seem to care they just hand out pills like candy, how about you?

  • Victoria

    August 7th, 2019 at 11:24 AM

    Hi Mark I’m so sorry i didnt reply. If you are able to respond, please do so we can be in touch.

  • Mark G

    August 10th, 2019 at 1:54 PM

    Hey, hows it going Victoria, hope all is well

  • Victoria

    August 12th, 2019 at 10:09 AM

    Hey Mark! Things are going ok. Struggling with job application atm. Learning to switch negative thoughts in therapy, so that’s good. How are you?


  • Mark

    August 19th, 2019 at 11:20 AM

    Hi Victoria, I am not too bad, been lifting weights and meditating to think more positively, and trying therapy exposure, do you have any Social media to stay in touch?

  • Victoria

    August 19th, 2019 at 6:50 PM

    check the comments below, search the group page

  • Erica

    March 16th, 2019 at 1:32 AM

    I am a 36 years old girl and I was born at the end of 1982 in Italy at week 31 with 1.5kg. My mother tells always the story that she and my dad went for a checkup in the hospital and the doctor told them, I wanted already to get out. Therefore she was hospitalized and I came to the world very quickly with no issues. I was put in an incubator for 1 month but the nurses told my mom not to really have big hopes about me surviving.. During this month, my mom (says she) was daily coming over to be with me, she would put the hands through the baby incubator’s gloves to touch me and to bond with me.
    I made it through the month and I was brought home afterwards.
    I was always and I am still very healthy (touching wood), I am average height and weight. I always loved and was good at studying (I studied law). I am fluent in 7 languages and whenever I can, I study :) I am hyperactive, can’t stop doing stuff: sports (running, biking, yoga, aikido, SCUBA diving, skiing, fitbox, inline skating etc,), going out with friends, read, travel (I lived already in 7 different countries all over the planet – 6 of them alone from my early adult life) etc. I am very ambitious and I believe I can achieve everything in my life from the career point of view. But I do feel I struggle in the love life. Up to a couple of years I did not even want children, it scarred me the idea of having to take care of someone at least 18 years. Now I am more of the idea, kids have never been a priority for me but with the right person, why not.. :) But I am still single and have the feeling I keep finding the “wrong man”. With the years I became very good at spoting the “wrong man” pretty early in the relationship and send him away from my life, because I understood the importance of a healthy relationship.
    But, whenever there is a break-up, even if it is from my side, I feel very sad, almost depressed.. I feel a huge sense of loneliness and abbandonment (even if it was me who decided I would be better without that person).. I felt like this as a teen and I am feeling like this as a grown up woman. With the years it is becoming shorter this period but I still have it. Rationally I understand that I will find the right person, who will love me in a healthy way and with whom there won’t be any break-up but still, as first reaction there is a huge depression. No matter how much I am depressed, I never thought about suicide, it is more about crying, feeling lonely and eating sweets. I always tend to avoid alcool in those situations.
    I was discussing this topic this week with my sister (she is 2.5 years younger than me, born 1 week later than the due date with 3.3kg, she struggle with the school, finished high school after many years of gaps and never went to university, she just got happily married and is planning a family) and she told me she never had such feelings (loneliness, abbandonment, lost) after breaking up with boyfriends.. She was sad at the moment but no so depressed as I seem to be..
    Because of this conversation I started to think about the fact that the only difference between us two (coming from the same family and having lived the same experiences until my 24 years) is the actual birth.
    Going deeply into the topic, I found that there seem to be some links between prematural babies and their social behaviour even later in life. Therefore I have to ask you:
    Could be my “post break up depression” have something to do with my feeling abbandoned right after my prematural birth?
    Are there also some links betweek prematural birth and being more sensitive as a person? I remember when I was a kid I had often this feeling of sadness and loneliness even if there was no apparent (at least to me) reason: I would start to cry and feel sad all of a sudden.
    Do you think with the years passing by there will be more studies regarding this topics? I am very interested.
    Thank you and happy to give more details as needed.

  • Victoria

    August 7th, 2019 at 11:26 AM

    Hi all I am going to start a facebook group called Good Therapy Preemies. Feel free to join.

  • Natalie

    August 22nd, 2019 at 8:04 AM

    Here is the group link

  • Mark G

    August 22nd, 2019 at 8:12 AM

    I dont have facebook sorry.

  • Ayantee

    March 21st, 2021 at 11:39 PM

    My daughter is 10 and born at 27 weeks, weight 1 lb, 9 oz. The signs of anxiety have been here since she was like 4 years old .We thought she would outgrow it. She has not. We are not getting her tested this weed, as I don’t want her to go to middle schools with these feelings, if it is anxiety or adhd. Reading all of your comments had helped me realize I am making the right decision. I worried about her being possibly put on medication or labeled at school, but hearing stories of the adult preemies, that had untreated anxiety is helping me understand, we must take action. I thank all of you that shared your story. This article is old. Hoping some of you can provide an update if you got treatment since then, and how it worked. #PreemieMom #micropreemie

  • Nadia

    August 10th, 2021 at 8:39 AM

    Wow, I’m so happy I found this. I was born prematurely at 7 months and spent 1 month in the incubator. I struggled with a lot of health issues as a child but became much stronger in adolescence. I’m now 28 and am very healthy, strong, successful in my career and my relationship, but I still struggle with very strong separation anxiety and general anxiety. The feeling of loneliness is constant and I find it difficult to connect with other people. I spent my college years locked in my room and made very little friends.

    My parents aren’t very emotionally intelligent (maybe it’s just that generation or their own trauma), and even though they otherwise did an incredible job raising me, it left me alone one on one with strong anxiety, not knowing what to do with it as a kid. They never told me they loved me or showed much physical affection. Instead they supported me with material things, but it wasn’t what I so desperately needed. I struggled with very intense feelings of loneliness and general fear but didn’t feel like I could express it or ask for help since my parents never expressed “negative” emotions either. It left me feeling like there’s something wrong with me on a very deep level and I’m all alone in that battle, and must do whatever it takes to pretend like I’m normal. At age 13 I started cutting as a coping mechanism. Later on I developed an eating disorder. After that, obsessive work became my outlet. Now, after a few years of therapy, psychedelics, meditation and also meeting a man whom I fully trust and have a really deep intimate, emotional bond, I can soothe myself in healthy ways. When I travel and my partner and I are apart, I feel extreme anxiety and loneliness, but my progress is that I don’t feel so much shame about it. My partner knows and is always there to talk to me or just let me cry on the phone.
    I do still struggle with the feelings of abandonement with my parents. I feel like their lack of expressing emotions makes it difficult for me to be myself as I feel like I need to hide my anxiety from them.
    It’s very difficult to deal with constant anxiety and loneliness. It feels like they’re so deeply rooted in me, I can only learn to cope with them in more elegant ways, but I doubt they’ll go away. Reading through these comments gave me a certain sense of closure because I see clearly now the root of my trauma. I’ve been suspecting it through lots of introspection, but seeing the research and so many comments from different people validated it for me.

    If you’re a parent of a premature baby reading this, please don’t let their anxiety go unchecked. Show them affection and hold them now that you can. Make them feel like you’re there and you won’t abandon them. Create a safe space for them to express their feelings and teach them to soothe themselves in good ways. They really need it.

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