If You Think You Have Postpartum Depression And/or Anxiety These Are Your Next Steps
If you just feel off, and feelings of anxiousness or depression are making you unable to function properly from day to day for longer than two weeks, you likely need to seek out professional help.
But if youre not ready for that step , start by sharing how youre feeling someone you trust. This can be a friend, family member, doula, or a medical professional. You dont have to be able to diagnose yourself, but you know when you have a cold versus the flu, Orlowsky explains.
Ideally, your pediatrician or obstetrician has screening measures in place to assess whether you are exhibiting symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety, after which they can refer you to a clinician who specializes in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
Whats more, if you have dealt with anxiety and/or depression during a previous pregnancy or were diagnosed with both or either one of these conditions prior to having kidsits important to address that with your obstetrician. A woman who has had PPD or postpartum anxiety in a previous pregnancy is 50 percent more likely to develop it in a subsequent pregnancy, according to Orlowsky. That said, you may not have had either with your first child but could still develop it during subsequent pregnancies.
So What Is Postpartum Anxiety Exactly
Postpartum anxiety impacts about 15 percent of womennearly as many as postpartum depression . But unlike PPD, postpartum anxiety sits under a complex umbrella of anxiety disorders including postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder and postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder .
In a nutshell, if postpartum depression is known colloquially as baby blues, then postpartum anxiety would be colored reda loop of fear, worry, stress, and intrusive thoughts. Those who have it in pregnancy and more likely to have it after birth. In fact, theres a term for that too: perinatal mood and anxiety disorders .
PMAD affects around 1 in 5 women, says Tiffany A. Moore Simas, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, co-director of the Maternity Center, and medical director of Lifeline4Moms at the University of Massachusetts Medical School/UMass Memorial Health Care. Perinatal anxiety symptoms can include everything from panic attacks to restless sleep to repeated thoughts of scary things happening to the baby.
And a frustrating reality: There is nowe repeat noperinatal specific screening tool for generalized anxiety disorder.
Thoughts of hurting ones baby without any intention to act on these thoughts are not uncommon among new mothers, says Sarah Homitsky, MD, director of the Alexis Joy DAchille Center for Perinatal Mental Health at AHN West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh. These thoughts can be symptoms of postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder ,
I Didnt Think It Could Be Ppd Because I Didnt Have It With My First Two Kids
About two days after the birth of my third son, I knew something was wrong. It felt like a heavy weighted blanket. I was crying all the time. I would watch my baby sleep, and I was so overwhelmed with love for him but felt so sad. Sad for all of the pain he would endure throughout his life, sad because I couldnt protect him, sad because I felt crazy and that he had a crazy mom. I was worried that he wouldnt like me.
At first, I didnt think it could be PPD, because I didnt have it with my first two kids 12 and eight years prior. I hid it from my partner well, being home alone all day. But he began growing concerned when I would have a panic attack whenever he touched me. I couldnt even sleep in the same bed with him. About two days later within a week of giving birth I asked him to call my midwife because I wouldnt be able to talk on the phone without crying. She put me on an antidepressant, which helped within days. I continued taking the medication for several years.
I want other moms to know that PPD is real, and you are not crazy. Just because someone doesnt understand what youre going through doesnt mean that it doesnt hurt. Communicate with your health care provider sooner than later there is hope.
Jennifer Snyder, professional organizer, Waco, TX
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Could It Be Postpartum Ocd
The specific kind of anxiety that Lauren was experiencing was postpartum OCD. The condition affects around 6% of mothers and can be associated with thoughts of hurting the baby, Dr. Homitsky says. Its not uncommon for women to develop obsessive and anxious thoughts that get stuck in their heads, she says. Mothers typically find the thoughts, called ego-dystonic thoughts, disturbing and unacceptable, she says. For instance, a mother could persist in having might be of drowning her baby in the bathtub, although she has no intention of doing so and she feels anxious to even give the baby a bath, Dr. Homitsky says.
Women have all sorts of thoughts in the context of a new child, says Michael OHara, PhD, professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Iowa and a specialist in postpartum depression. Some of them can be scary, but it is very, very uncommon for a woman to act on these thoughts.
Much less common than postpartum anxiety is a condition known as postpartum psychosis, which is characterized by ego-syntonic thoughts, says Dr. Homitsky. In this condition, the mother may have thoughts of hurting her baby and the thoughts are not upsetting to her, she says. If you speak with a mother who is psychotic, she may say she hears voices telling her to hurt her child. Only about 1 in 1,000 women experience postpartum psychosis.
How To Spot The Signs And Symptoms
The symptoms of postpartum anxiety, in addition to the hard-to-shake intrusive thoughts, include:
- restlessness or feeling on edge
- thinking constantly about the safety of the baby
- fearing that youll do something to harm the baby
- feeling overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood
- growing irritable or edgy with others
- snapping at ones children and experiencing guilt afterwards
Also Check: Do You Have An Anxiety Disorder
How Can I Reduce My Risk For Postpartum Anxiety
Sometimes there isn’t anything you can do to prevent postpartum anxiety. It’s not your fault and not caused by anything you did or didn’t do. If you know of specific triggers from your past or have a history of anxiety or depression, talk to someone during your pregnancy. Talking with a counselor and learning coping tools before your baby is born can reduce the intensity of your anxious thoughts during the postpartum period.
What Are The Baby Blues
The baby blues refer to the emotional ups and downs that 70-80% of women experience after the birth of a child. The main signs of baby blues are mood swings such as sudden crying spells that generally happen for the first two weeks after your baby is born. These swings dont affect your ability to function normally, and you still feel like yourself most of the time.
The baby blues are the result of a few things. Yes, your hormones are readjusting and youre tired, but youre also settling into life with a new baby. Feeling sad or overwhelmed at times is normal and expected.
However, if youre experiencing strong feelings of sadness or stress most of the time, or for an extended period of time, you may be experiencing postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety and its important to get help.
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Causes Of Postpartum Anxiety
Lets be honest: A new baby especially your first can easily trigger worry. And when every new product you buy carries with it an all-caps warning label about sudden infant death syndrome , it doesnt help matters.
This moms account describes how this worry can really turn into something more. But why does this happen? For one thing, during the whole trying-to-conceive, pregnancy, and postpartum process, your bodys hormones are going from zero to 60 and back again.
But why some women get postpartum anxiety disorder and others dont is a bit of a mystery, given that the hormone fluctuations are universal. If you had anxiety before your pregnancy or if you have family members with it youre certainly more at risk. The same goes for obsessive compulsive disorder.
Other factors that can up your risk include:
- previous pregnancy loss or death of an infant
- history of more intense mood-related symptoms with your period
One study found that women with previous miscarriage or stillbirth were more likely to have postpartum anxiety.
How Can I Manage My Postnatal Anxiety Symptoms
Its easy to forget about yourself when youre caring for a new baby, but its important to look after yourself too. Try to:
- accept and ask for help from those around you, such as friends or family
- do some gentle exercise, such as walking or swimming
- rest and sleep when you can this can be difficult when you are trying to cope with sleepless nights but there are some things you can try
- talk to someone you trust, such as your partner, family or a friend about how you are feeling
- try not to smoke, which can make anxiety worse
- recognise that these feelings are not your fault
- avoid having too much caffeine as this can make you more anxious than normal and can also make your baby restless if you are breastfeeding try to limit your caffeine as much as possible.
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Postpartum Anxiety V/s Postpartum Depression
Postpartum anxiety is usually characterized by overwhelming worry and fear. A woman may feel like she is not able to cope with the demands of motherhood. She may also have irrational thoughts about her babys safety.
Postpartum depression, on the other hand, is characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. A woman may feel like she is not able to bond with her baby or may be afraid to be alone with her baby.
Both conditions are serious and get confused because they have some similar symptoms. But it is important to understand that they are two different conditions. The major difference between postpartum anxiety and depression is that anxiety is characterized by worry and fear. While depression is characterized by feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
So, the condition is often misdiagnosed as depression when it is actually anxiety or vice versa. If you think you might be suffering from either of these conditions, please reach out to your doctor or a mental health professional for help.
Postpartum Anxiety and depression are treatable. With the right support, women can recover and feel like themselves again.
How To Treat Postpartum Anxiety
The treatment for postpartum anxiety may vary from person to person. Some may require medication while others may not. The important thing is to get help from a professional if you think you might have postpartum anxiety. Also, the diagnosis of this condition is important. Because it can help you and your doctor to understand what treatments may work best for you.
However, here are some ways through which you can get rid of postpartum anxiety:
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What Causes Postpartum Anxiety
The causes of postpartum anxiety are not known. Doctors cannot tell why some mothers experience postpartum anxiety and others do not.
Like postpartum depression in general, there is no one established cause of postpartum anxiety. Causes can stem from drastic hormonal changes to sleep deprivation to overwhelm with life-altering responsibilities that come with having a new baby.
It has also been seen that women who have a history of anxiety are more likely to develop postpartum anxiety.
Studies show that there are certain risk factors that may cause anxiety disorders in women who have given birth. These risk factors include:
- A family history of anxiety disorders
- Personal history of anxiety
What Are The Symptoms Of Postpartum Anxiety
Anxiety is your body’s way of responding to danger or threats. If you have postpartum anxiety, you may feel like you or your baby is in constant danger. The symptoms you feel are your body’s way of reacting to this constant sense of worry or fear.
Common signs of postpartum anxiety are:
- Feeling on edge or fearful.
- Avoiding certain activities, people or places.
- Being overly cautious about situations that aren’t dangerous.
- Checking things over and over again.
- Being controlling.
There are certain conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder or panic disorders that can affect you during the postpartum period. If you are suffering from either of these conditions, you may have panic attacks or obsessive thoughts.
Be honest with your healthcare providers about all the symptoms you feel. They are there to support you and recommend treatments to help.
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Who Does Postpartum Anxiety Affect
Postpartum anxiety affects almost exclusively new mothers. Because it is lumped into postpartum depression reports, it is difficult to determine the exact rate of postpartum anxiety. Some medical professionals believe it occurs in 10 percent of all new mothers a similar rate of those who develop 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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How Did I Realize I Had Postpartum Anxiety
More so, how did I realize I still had postpartum anxiety after 3 months of therapy and a feeling of job-well-done?
My husband told me.
He noticed my small habits of anxiety. The seconds of hesitation when a family member jokes about babysitting my son for the day. How I move myself around the room to always be in view of him. Me rearranging the schedule so I am rarely away from him on my days off.
Before you give birth, let your partner, your mother, your neighbor know the signs of postpartum mood disorders. Let them know you, so they can recognize if something is off with the postnatal you.
Definition Of Postpartum Anxiety
There are no official diagnostic criteria for postpartum anxiety, but one definition is that it’s an anxiety disorder that occurs in the time period from immediately post-birth up to a year post-birth.
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What Are The Main Causes Of Postpartum Anxiety
There is no one cause for postpartum anxiety. Healthcare providers think several factors can cause it:
- Change in hormones: The sharp decrease in hormones after delivery can cause changes in mood or cause you to overreact to stress.
- Lack of sleep: Caring for newborns can be a 24-hour job and cause sleep deprivation.
- Feelings of responsibility: You may be overcome with feelings of needing to protect and care for your new baby.
- Stressful events: Certain milestones or events in your baby’s life could trigger anxiety. For example, issues with breastfeeding, a difficult pregnancy or stressful delivery.
- Risk factors that increase your chances of postpartum anxiety: Health conditions and past experiences may put you at a higher risk for developing anxiety.