What is postpartum anxiety?
The arrival of a baby can be stressful, and new parents often find themselves with unfamiliar worries. It is completely normal to find new concerns on your mind. But when those concerns become irrational, or you are unable to get them off your mind, you may be experiencing postpartum anxiety.
About 10% of women are diagnosed with anxiety following the birth of their baby. It is common for women to experience postpartum depression in addition to anxiety. Women with a previous history of depression and anxiety, or who have little support in raising their baby are at a higher risk for developing postpartum anxiety.
What are the symptoms of postpartum anxiety?
Postpartum anxiety shares many of the same symptoms as a generalized anxiety disorder. These include both physical and psychological symptoms.
- Constant worry
- The constant sense that something is wrong
- Racing thoughts
- Sleep disturbances
- Changes in appetite
- Hot flashes
How is postpartum anxiety treated?
Postpartum anxiety is often treated through therapy or medication. By talking with your doctor, you will be able to find a treatment that is most effective for you.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used therapy for postpartum anxiety. CBT focuses on a new parent’s negative thoughts around themselves and their new baby. Your therapist will guide you through strategies designed to improve your confidence in your parenting skills, the individual self, and manage your anxious thoughts. With the skills to feel confident in raising your new child, you will be able to overcome your worries.
Some women are prescribed antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications in addition to participating in therapy. These medications are specially prescribed to accommodate things such as breastfeeding so that the baby is not affected. Some women find that medication in conjunction with therapy helps them tremendously. This is especially true of women who experience more severe symptoms.
Communicating with those around you is not a cure, but still a very important component of managing postpartum anxiety. Sharing feelings with your partner, family members who are helping take care of the baby, or trusted friends may help you feel more secure in your emotions. Many women find themselves with less social interaction following the birth of their child. Having people to talk to, and being able to discuss things other than your baby, is a step in remembering your sense of self and diminishing your anxiety.