Sometimes it feels like becoming a parent and worrying go hand in hand. Some worry is a natural part of life. When the worry consumes your life and leaves you unable to fully be present, that’s when it can become clear something isn’t right.
Postpartum anxiety is the experience of severe anxiety after becoming a parent. This can be experienced by any parent no matter how a child has been welcomed into the family. Feelings of worry spiral out of control and take over the parent’s life and thoughts. Postpartum anxiety can be due to something triggering in your past or just due to irrational fears gripping hold of you.
Postpartum anxiety can affect any woman. Those who already have an anxiety disorder are at a higher risk of also having an anxiety disorder after pregnancy. Risk factors for postpartum anxiety can include:
A history of depression or anxiety.
Caring for multiple children.
Baby or child having health conditions.
A lack of support.
Stressful or traumatic pregnancy or delivery.
Childhood trauma experiences.
As many as 1 in 5 women experience postpartum anxiety of some kind.
Worrying is a natural response to wanting to protect your baby. Anxiety comes when those worries become crippling to your quality of life. Anxiety can cause physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. Symptoms of postpartum anxiety can include:
Lack of sleep.
Increased heart rate.
Lack of appetite.
Unable to relax or stay calm.
Racing worst-case scenario thoughts.
Feeling constantly on edge.
Avoiding people, places, or activities.
Being overly cautious.
Obsessively checking things.
Numbness or tingling.
You may also experience panic attacks with postpartum anxiety. Symptoms of panic attacks may include:
Shortness of breath, feeling like you can’t catch your breath or are choking.
An overwhelming fear of death (for you or your baby).
Pain in your chest.
Dizzy or lightheadedness.
Increased heart rate.
Postpartum anxiety may present similarly to obsessive-compulsive disorder. This involves a strong desire to obsessively control and protect the baby. This can involve constant cleaning, reordering items, and checking things. The parent may feel shame or discomfort when sharing how they’re feeling.
Postpartum anxiety varies from person to person. It doesn’t last forever, but it can benefit from seeking treatment. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to reach out for help. You are not alone in this struggle. Getting help is taking a brave first step.
Some worry and anxiety are normal in the first few weeks of becoming a parent. However, if the feelings of anxiety intensify or seem relentless, it may be time to seek out help. If you’re unsure if you need help, it’s always better to ask for help than to wait.
The first step in treating postpartum anxiety is asking for help. You may turn to your healthcare provider or a therapist. After discussing the symptoms you are experiencing, a treatment plan can be made. There are many options for treating and coping with postpartum anxiety. One or a combination of options may be the most beneficial to you. It may take trial and error to find the best treatment. Don’t be discouraged. Once the right treatment is found, your quality of life should soon improve.
Treatment options for postpartum anxiety in women may include:
Therapy — Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used to help treat anxiety and can be beneficial for helping treat postpartum anxiety. Your therapist can help you identify the emotions you’re feeling and how to change your thought patterns. You will learn healthy coping mechanisms.
Medications — If you are breastfeeding, it is important to discuss the risks and benefits of any medications you may take to help with your anxiety. Some medications are safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Medications can help with the physical symptoms of anxiety or help with panic attacks.
Exercise — Exercise can be a natural mood booster and can help with anxiety. Physical activities that incorporate breathing exercises can also be beneficial.
Skin-to-skin contact — Cuddling with your baby, particularly with skin-to-skin contact, helps release oxytocin which can naturally help combat anxiety.
Sleep — Lack of sleep can have an increased effect on anxiety. Ensuring to get as much sleep and rest as possible is beneficial to your mental health.
Adjusting to a new baby comes with joys and challenges. Help is available to you if you need it. You don’t have to do it alone.
Life is complicated and messy. When it comes to mental health, we believe there’s no one-size-fits-all. At Halcyon Therapy Group, we understand just how important you and your unique situation and perspectives are. That’s why we offer a suite of services tailored specifically to you and your needs. You deserve better, and we are here to help. Book your complimentary consultation today and start living the life you always dreamed of.