Treatment Options For Postpartum Anxiety
There are a range of treatment options available for women dealing with postpartum anxiety. Dr. Venuto recommends the following:
- Various therapy approaches, including interpersonal psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy , and dialectical behavioral therapy
- Talk therapy and psychotropic medication
She also points to self-care as part of recovery, but notes that it is highly unlikely to eliminate the symptoms of postpartum anxiety on its own. Self-care includes:
- Healthy eating
Hesser adds that both individual and group therapy can be helpful, and in particular urges women with early symptoms or a history of anxiety or depression to seek treatment: The sooner you get help, the better!
Medication is another option for some women. Hesser and Park both note that SSRIs such as Zoloft are often prescribed, though some physicians may recommend other medications. Always consult with your prescriber about concerns involving medication, and never change your medication use without consulting with your prescriber, Hesser emphasizes.
Finally, Park notes that support groups can also be a helpful way for new mothers to connect with others in similar situations and reduce symptoms of postpartum anxiety.
Treatment For Postpartum Anxiety
The most important step in getting help for postpartum anxiety is to get diagnosed. That 18 percent figure we mentioned earlier for postpartum anxiety prevalence? It could be even higher, because some women may stay silent about their symptoms.
Be sure to go to your postpartum check-up with your doctor. This is usually scheduled within the first 6 weeks after delivery. Know that you can and should also schedule a follow-up appointment whenever you have worrisome symptoms.
Both postpartum anxiety and PPD can affect your bond with your baby. But there is treatment available.
After talking about your symptoms with your doc, you may get medications, a referral to a mental health specialist, or recommendations for supplements or complementary treatments like acupuncture.
Specific therapies that might help include cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy .
Certain activities can also help you feel more in control, like:
- relaxation techniques
Not buying it? One study of 30 women of childbearing age found that exercise especially resistance training lowered symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Now, these women were not in the postpartum stage, but this result bears considering.
Prevalence And Course Of Anxiety During Pregnancy And Postpartum
Literature review suggests the prevalence of anxiety disorders in postpartum women to be the same as the prevalence of anxiety disorders in women in general . However, due to methodological issues such as low participation of mothers with obstetric and neonatal problems, these figures could be even higher, around 20%-25% . Some studies established a 20%-25% prevalence of anxiety disorders during pregnancy and 15%-20% in the postpartum period . When the level of general anxiety symptoms was taken into account, high anxiety levels were present in 25%-33% of women during pregnancy , 17%-22% in the early postpartum period , and 15%-33% in the late postpartum period . Paul et al. found a very low percentage of parturient women with high anxiety levels in the late postpartum period approximately 6% of women had high anxiety levels at 2 weeks, 2 months or 6 months after chidlbirth. However, this study included only women who breastfed during their stay at maternity ward and intended to breastfeed at home, and the anxiety levels could be higher in women who could not or did not want to breastfeed.
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Your Relationship With Your Baby
If you have anxiety, you may worry that this will affect your ability to bond with your baby. There is no reason to believe that anxiety will do this. If you are struggling, this usually improves with treatment.
Its important to know that some parents bond with their baby immediately, while others find it takes more time. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Talk to your health visitor or GP if youre still finding it difficult after treatment. They can help you get the best support for how youre feeling.
Find out more about bonding with your baby.
Whats The Difference Between Postnatal Anxiety And Postnatal Depression
Up to half of people who have postnatal anxiety will have postnatal depression at the same time. Postnatal depression involves having a negative mood for more than 2 weeks. You might also lose interest in normal activities, feel sad and hopeless, find it hard to concentrate, and not be able to eat or sleep.
Both anxiety and depression are more common after the birth of a baby. Combined with the normal challenges of lack of sleep and feeling overwhelmed by being a new parent, you might feel unable to cope. Its important to seek help as quickly as possible so you can get back to enjoying your new baby.
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Create Time For Yourself
You may feel stuck on the couch breast-feeding. Maybe youre feeling overwhelmed by work, household responsibilities, or your older children. Instead of dealing with these stresses alone, reach out for help. Take up your mother-in-law on her offer of free babysitting. Let your partner or another trusted adult take the baby for an hour or two.
You may find it helpful to schedule some dedicated me time once a week. Even if you can only get out of the house between nursing sessions, you can use this time to decompress. Go on a walk, take a nap, go to a movie, or do some yoga and meditation.
Baby Blues Postpartum Depression Or Postpartum Anxiety
Chances are, you have heard about the baby blues or postpartum depression. You may have even filled out questionnaires about your mood during your postpartum doctors visit. The baby blues are a very common reaction to decreasing hormone levels after delivery, and may leave you feeling sad, weepy, and overwhelmed. However, these symptoms are mild and only last for a couple of weeks. When the symptoms persist and become debilitating, something else could be going on.
Many symptoms overlap between postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety . Mothers experiencing postpartum depression commonly experience symptoms of anxiety, although not all mothers suffering from anxiety are depressed. Establishing the correct diagnosis is important, as women with postpartum anxiety may not respond as well to certain treatments for depression, such as interpersonal psychotherapy or medications such as bupropion .
Similar to postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety may spike due to hormonal changes in the postpartum period. It may also increase as a response to real stressors whether its the health of the baby, finances, or in response to navigating new roles in your relationships. A history of pregnancy loss also increases your risk for developing postpartum anxiety. If you have a history of anxiety before or during pregnancy, postpartum anxiety symptoms may also return after delivery. Anxiety and sadness may also appear after weaning from breastfeeding due to hormonal changes.
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How To Cope With Postpartum Anxiety
Unlike the baby blues, which last about two weeks, postpartum anxiety doesnt always go away on its own. Its crucial to seek help if anxiety is disrupting your sleep or youre constantly preoccupied with worries. In moderate to severe untreated cases, postpartum anxiety can last indefinitely, Smith says.
How Do I Know It’s Postpartum Anxiety And Not Just Worrying
Having a baby or becoming a parent and worrying go hand in hand. Postpartum anxiety is an excessive or extreme worry that feels like it never stops. If your worrying interferes with your ability to calm down and feels like it lasts all day, you may have postpartum anxiety. Postpartum anxiety is also associated with irrational fears or constantly feeling on edge.
Some examples of postpartum anxiety could be:
- Staying awake all night because you are afraid your baby will stop breathing in their sleep.
- Being terrified to leave your baby alone for a few minutes with an adult you trust .
- Being so afraid someone will hurt you or your child that the thought of leaving your house makes your heart race.
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When To See Your Doctor
Although many women experience the baby blues in the first several weeks following delivery, PPD is marked by deeper and longer-lasting feelings of sadness and agitation. These feelings can get worse and become chronic depression without medical help.
Its a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor if you notice feelings of depression after birth, especially if they dont fade after a couple weeks or get worse with time. Only around 15 percent of women ever seek treatment for their symptoms, despite the importance of treatment. Your doctor can point you in the right direction to get the support you need.
How To Manage Postpartum Depression And Anxiety
Meredith Shur, MD, FACOG, is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, as well as a certified medical examiner.
After the baby comes, many new parents are simply relieved that they got through it. However, mothers may be unprepared to face one of their biggest potential challengeshow to manage postpartum depression and/or postpartum anxiety.
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Offer To Help Out In Specific Ways
Even with professional treatment, your partner is still going to need your help to get better. The more support she receives, the better her chances of getting well even faster.
When someone is struggling with depression, they may find it harder to make decisions. And someone with anxiety may want to do everything themselves. So simply asking your partner, Can I help? may not do the trick.
Instead, make a plan and tell your partner specifically how youre going to help. Tell her, Im going to take the baby to the grocery store so you can take a nap. Or, Im going to pick up dinner for us tonight on my way home. This will make it easier for your partner to accept help. And it gives you the chance to take a real role in helping your whole family feel better.
Once someone starts treatment for postpartum depression or anxiety, they usually start to feel better in about six weeks. So focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. The steps you are taking to help your partner now are vital. Your partner will definitely appreciate your help when theyre back to feeling like their normal self!
Worried Someone You Love May Be Suffering From Ppd Or Ppa Watch For These Signs:
- Baby Blues dont improve after the first two weeks postpartum
- Frequent crying or tearfulness
- She no longer has interest in things she used to enjoy
- She is either too tired or just doesnt care to make decisions
- She isnt engaging with the baby
- Her sleep patterns have changed, including frequent waking or having trouble sleeping, and not just due to having a newborn
- Constant or near-constant worrying
- Feelings of dread about what might happen
- Racing thoughts
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Ways To Deal With Postpartum Depression
After going through postpartum depression, my wife took several steps to improve her health.
Postpartum Depression Information
Hello, and welcome to episode 6 of the Parenting Over 40 podcast. Im your host, Frank Sasso. Im a licensed psychotherapist in Chicago, IL who has been in the field of wellness for over 15 years. Im also a dad, who made the decision along with my wife to have a baby after 40. Aside from my work as a therapist, Im also a certified fitness trainer. So, yea, my life can get a little crazy. In todays episode I want to share with you 5 ways my wife coped with postpartum depression.
When Should I Call My Doctor
Contact your healthcare provider if you have any symptoms of postpartum anxiety. Some specific signs to watch for are:
- Feeling like you aren’t bonding with your baby.
- Feeling like you are worrying all day, every day.
- Signs of postpartum depression.
- Feeling overwhelmed with day-to-day life.
- Feeling like your anxious thoughts are worsening.
If you need immediate help or have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
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Differences Between Postpartum Anxiety And Postpartum Depression
Postpartum anxiety doesnt attract as much attentionfrom society or by doctors. Unlike postpartum depression, its not recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the gold standard of reference for mental health professionals. We dont do as good a job at screening new mothers for anxiety disorders, says Dr. Homitsky, who finds that its more common in her clinic than postpartum depression.
In postpartum depression, mothers may feel detached and disconnected from their new babies. In postpartum anxiety, they’re consumed by thoughts of their babies. There also can be a fair amount of overlap between the two conditions, says Dr. Homitsky. You can feel sad, overwhelmed, and disinterested in the baby one minute, and consumed and excessively worried the next.
What Can I Do If I Think I Have Postnatal Anxiety
It may be helpful to talk to a partner, family member or friend about how you feel. They may be able to support you emotionally and practically. For example, they may be able to look after the baby so you can try and sleep.
It may also be helpful to talk to other parents. Sometimes this can be reassuring and help you put your feelings in perspective. It can also help some parents realise that what they are feeling is more severe and that they need more support.
Its also important to tell your health visitor or GP how you feel. It can be hard for some people to talk about this but try to remember that your healthcare professionals wont judge you. They understand that anxiety is a mental health condition. It is not your fault, or something that you just need to get over or move on from. They will focus on helping you find the right treatment and support so you can take care of yourself and your baby.
If you find it difficult to talk about your thoughts and feelings, you could write down what you want to say first, or you may want to have someone with you during the appointment. The important thing is to let someone know so that you can get the right help as soon as possible. If you prefer, you can refer yourself for an initial assessment with talking therapies services without seeing your GP. There is more information about this below.
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Tips On How To Deal With Postpartum Anxiety
Below are some tips on how to deal with postpartum anxiety and small steps you can take to help guide you back into normalcy again:
1) SET A NORMAL SLEEP / WAKE PATTERN
Setting a normal sleep/wake pattern is critical to getting back to normal. Getting to bed at the same time allows your body and your baby to get back on a sleep schedule. Waking up at a consistent time allows you to get into a routine so you can start your day off right.
2) TAKE A SHOWER EVERY DAY AND GET DRESSED
This will help get you time and allow you to start your day with a clean slate.
3) HAVE A LIST OF TASKS TO DO
Mom brain is a thing! Have a short list of attainable tasks to do daily to give yourself a sense of accomplishment and accountability.
4) INCORPORATE UNCOMFORTABLE ACTIVITIES IN YOUR DAY
If you are feeling uncomfortable about any particular activity, try to slowly incorporate a few minutes of that activity once a day! For example, answer an email, call a family member to talk about positive things, or go on a short walk even if you just want to lay in bed.
5) TALK ABOUT HAPPY THINGS
When talking with others, try to discuss happy things and avoid constant talk about PPD or negative things. This will help to divert your attention away from sulking thoughts.
6) LET FAMILY HELP
Keep in touch with close family members. Let them support you and listen If you need to talk!
7) FIND JOY IN A DAILY ACTIVITY
8) EAT REGULARLY
9) HAVE 15 MINUTES OF WORRY A DAY
10) CHALLENGE YOUR NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
Postpartum Anxiety Causes And Risk Factors
Postpartum anxiety can result from a variety of triggers, experts say. For starters, “there’s a huge hormonal shiftestrogen and progesterone levels increase 10- to 100-fold during pregnancy, then fall to essentially zero within 24 hours of delivery,” explains Elizabeth Fitelson, M.D., director of the Women’s Program at the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry.
In the days that follow, you’re dealing with sleep deprivation, changes to your relationship, and new schedules and responsibilities, including around-the-clock care of a newborn. Add to that society’s expectation that this should be one of the happiest times in your life, and it’s no wonder so many postpartum parents start to come unglued.
While any new parent can develop postpartum anxiety, there are some factors that might increase your risk. These include:
- A personal or family history of anxiety
- Certain symptoms of PMS
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Previous experience with depression
What’s more, anyone who has had a miscarriage or stillbirth may be more susceptible to postpartum anxiety and depression with a subsequent healthy delivery, according to a study by the University of Rochester in New York, because they’re so worried that something else might go wrong.
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