Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum anxiety is less talked about than postpartum depression, but the two often go hand in hand, affecting the same women or even sharing symptoms. Postpartum anxiety is unfortunately very common, and it’s linked to the serious hormonal changes that take place in a woman’s body just after she’s given birth. This type of anxiety can be serious and can cause women to have problems caring for themselves and their baby or relating to their partner or support system after birth. Many times, postpartum anxiety starts earlier in the pregnancy, and it may turn into panic attacks after the birth. Here’s what you should know about postpartum anxiety:

What causes it?

As with other anxiety disorders, no one is totally sure what causes postpartum anxiety. Some think it’s likely to be caused by hormonal imbalances triggered by fluctuating post-pregnancy hormones, though. Here are some risk factors for postpartum anxiety that you should look out for:

  • A family history of depression or anxiety disorders
  • A personal history of anxiety disorders or panic attacks
  • A history of depression or anxiety during the pregnancy
  • Difficulty transitioning into parenthood or general difficulty with interrupted routines

Symptoms

It’s important to know the symptoms of postpartum anxiety. Because the problem can often worsen over time, you’ll want to let your doctor know as soon as possible if you’re showing any of these symptoms so that you can get them in check with treatment or medication as soon as they worsen and become more difficult to deal with. Here are some of the symptoms of generalized anxiety during the postpartum period:

  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty finishing tasks or remembering things and concentrating
  • General exhaustion that’s beyond what new moms normally feel
  • Feelings of uneasiness or anxiety for long periods of time
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble relaxing

If you have many of these symptoms for more than a two week period, call your doctor to talk about potential treatment options. Sometimes, just learning some coping strategies is enough, but women who have severe postpartum anxiety may need medication or therapy to deal with the problem.

Treatment

One of the main things you can do to get over postpartum anxiety is talk about it. Many new moms feel that they should be happy and easy-going during this period, which should be one of joy. However, there are millions of moms every year who experience anxiety and depression during and after pregnancy. Your body just when through some huge changes, and your life has changed dramatically, as well. Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, postpartum anxiety is nothing to be embarrassed about, so talk with your partner and your doctor about how you’re feeling as soon as possible.

If you have a more mild case of anxiety, it may be enough for you to learn coping strategies. Things like deep breathing exercises, getting outside regularly, walking or doing other types of exercise, getting massages, using aromatherapy, and even changing your diet may help you cope with minor anxiety problems.

If you have a more severe case of postpartum anxiety, particularly if it includes panic attacks, which can be totally debilitating, you may need to try medication for a short period of time. You might also want to try herbal remedies, which can be as effective as medication at times without having as many side effects. If you’re breastfeeding, be sure to talk to your doctor about the potential effect of the supplements or medications on your baby!

Another strategy is to try cognitive-behavioral therapy, which can give you concrete strategies for dealing with anxiety both now and in the future.