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Blog

Postpartum Anxiety 101

Chelsea Gonzales

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Anyone who has ever suffered from uncontrollable anxiety knows what a terrible feeling it is. Unfortunately, this same anxiety is something many pregnant women suffer from, and what’s even more unfortunate is that many of these women never recieve help.

The name for this condition? Postpartum Anxiety (PPA). Never heard of it? That’s okay, many people haven’t. However, it’s important that we get the word out, as this is a very serious condition that can actually lead to lifelong complications.

Therefore, we are going to use today’s article to introduce PPA and help raise awareness.

What is Postpartum Anxiety?

Like postpartum depression (PPD), postpartum anxiety is a disorder that occurs in women after they have given birth. In many women, the symptoms will appear immediately. In others, it could take several months after giving birth. Still others begin to feel the symptoms of anxiety a few weeks before they even welcome their little one into the world.

While PPA is similar to PPD in that it appears after giving birth, it is actually quite different in terms of symptoms. Women suffering from postpartum anxiety will experience nigh-unrelenting feelings of worry. Usually these worries are for her newborn and they refuse to be dismissed. This constant worry can result in trouble sleeping, changed eating habits, rapid heartbeat, hot flashes, nausea, an inability to focus, and shortness of breath.

Obviously, these symptoms are quite disruptive to everyday life, and can even make it difficult for a new mom to care for her baby.

What Causes Postpartum Anxiety?

After giving birth, women go through an enormous hormonal shift. This works along with changes in schedule, lack of sleep, and relationship changes with those nearest and dearest to them to set the stage for postpartum anxiety. At first, the symptoms may be subtle, or they may come on full-force right away.

Who Might Suffer from PPA?

Absolutely any mother who has just given birth can develop postpartum anxiety. In fact, as many at 11% of women suffer from this disorder. That said, there are some mothers who may be more susceptible to it, including:

  • Women with a personal or family history of anxiety
  • Women with a history of depression
  • Women who experience weepiness or irritability as symptoms of PMS
  • Women with eating disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Women who have had a miscarriage or stillbirth in the past

What are the Treatment Options?

Luckily, there are very effective treatment options for PPA, meaning that those who seek out treatment will almost certainly overcome the anxious feelings that are disrupting their lives.

The first course of action will likely be ensuring the new mother has help with the little one, along with giving her a professional therapist to help her regulate her worried thoughts and give her coping techniques. Even these small steps can make an enormous difference, and by also adding regular exercise into the mother’s routine, the anxiety may be eliminated completely.

If the lifestyle changes mentioned above don’t do the trick, the next step is medication. Typically, medication is only used in the most severe cases and is paired with continued therapy and positive lifestyle changes in order to make the biggest possible impact.

Conclusion

Making people aware of the reality of postpartum anxiety is the first step in helping all mamas receive the care and attention they need.

If you feel you or someone you love is likely to develop PPA based on medical history or personality, hiring a postpartum doula is an excellent preventative measure. A postpartum doula can help the new mother by providing support during the weeks after baby’s birth.

Are you or someone you know currently suffering from PPA? please let a professional care provider know. Getting the proper help is the first step to happier days with your little one.