After months of waiting, you finally have a healthy baby that looks perfect in your eyes. The anticipation and planning are finally over, replaced by the pure joy and excitement of having a newborn child in your arms. However, as the weeks pass by, your happiness may start being replaced by a sense of worry that clouds over you. “Is my baby getting enough milk?” “Did she stop breathing?” “What if there’s something wrong and he can’t tell me because he’s just a baby?”
These unwanted thoughts may make you feel tense and overwhelmed to the point that you can’t get enough sleep or function properly. If severe anxiety prevents you from going about your day and caring for your new baby, then you might have postpartum anxiety. What is it and how can you treat the issue?
CarePlus New Jersey shares this article so you can understand, learn and know about postpartum anxiety and get the help you or your loved one needs. Keep reading to learn more.
There are a wide variety of anxiety disorders classified today. Under this umbrella is postpartum generalized anxiety disorder, which is similar to generalized anxiety disorder except that it is closely linked with pregnancy and becoming a new parent.
Postpartum anxiety also called postnatal anxiety is often a comorbidity (presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions in a patient at the same time) of postpartum depression, another mental illness that many new mothers face. Around 10 to 15% of new moms will develop some level of postpartum anxiety after giving birth, making the issue a common occurrence among the general population.
Postpartum anxiety results from an array of factors, not just one trigger. Rapid and frequent hormonal changes, lack of sleep, the stress of caring for a helpless baby, and having a history of past depression, anxiety disorders and other mental health problems can all contribute to a person getting postpartum anxiety disorder.
The good news is the issue can typically be resolved with the right treatment, therapy, and if needed, postpartum anxiety medication.
During your consultations with your OB/GYN or primary care doctor, you probably learned about the complications that may happen before, during, and after pregnancy. You can develop postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression, postpartum PTSD, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, more often than not, what you’re feeling may just be baby blues.
So how do you know if you’re having normal emotional fluctuations or legitimately developing postpartum depression or anxiety?
Baby blues only last for a short while, and the feeling can include emotional highs and lows like crying, extreme happiness, and anxiety. The real concern begins if baby blues last for more than a few weeks and start becoming a hindrance to your daily life.
Postpartum depression and anxiety are more serious issues that last for a longer period. Their symptoms also hamper your life and how you care for your baby. Feeling overwhelmed becomes an almost constant occurrence that affects your social relationships, career, and family. Sadly, these issues won’t go away by themselves. You may need professional help to treat excessive anxiety. A mental healthcare provider can also help you handle your mental and physical symptoms so you can manage them better.
The symptoms of postpartum anxiety vary from one parent to another. Those with more severe cases show more symptoms, but you don’t need to have constant panic attacks to justify seeking help. If you think that your emotions are not what’s normal for you, consult with your OB/GYN, primary care provider, or a program with therapists like the Maternal and Family Center at CarePlus New Jersey.
Having postpartum anxiety can manifest in various physical issues, such as:
Most of the symptoms of postpartum anxiety are psychological. Here are some to watch out for:
Some women are inherently more susceptible to developing postpartum anxiety because of several risk factors, including the following:
Women who’ve been previously diagnosed with mental health issues like PTSD, depression, and other mood disorders are more likely to develop postpartum anxiety. If you have family members that also had perinatal anxiety, then you’re also more likely to get one.
Those who’ve been diagnosed with OCD have a higher chance of developing postpartum anxiety. OCD is under the anxiety disorder umbrella and the way its symptoms manifest makes a person more prone to anxiety-related issues.
If a mother has experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth in the past, they may start worrying about their baby and all the things that could go wrong. Combined with fluctuating hormone levels and the stress of caring for a newborn, this mental state can develop into an anxiety or depression.
Yes. It may seem surprising, but even men can experience postpartum anxiety — the prevalence rate is near 10%. Often, the anxiety disorder comes with comorbid depression and can last past the postpartum period. Why does this happen?
Like new moms, new dads typically also feel a lot of stress. They are worried about this big change in their lives and their family, worried about their partner’s health, or worried about the baby’s safety. This severe worry can easily become excessive and uncontrolled, signs that their symptoms are developing into anxiety.
If you’re a new dad, don’t dismiss what you’re feeling. This is a time of big changes and you’re not immune to mental health problems. Seek treatment if your excessive anxiety or worrying is becoming a debilitating issue.
Postpartum anxiety, unlike baby blues, doesn’t go away on its own. It can become a life-long disorder. Thankfully, there are ways to treat this mental illness so mothers can resume their normal lives and care for their families without further issues.
If you are experiencing symptoms we’ve outlined above, consult with your OB/GYN so they can refer you to a mental health professional that can diagnose and treat the problem.
Aside from seeking psychological help, there are a few things you can do by yourself to reduce the symptoms of postpartum anxiety.
Postpartum anxiety is one of the lesser-known complications new parents find they may face after giving birth. Thankfully in northern New Jersey, CarePlus understands what’s going on and can provide the treatment and services most parents need.
CarePlus New Jersey has the Maternal and Family Center that serves as a place where new parents, new mothers with their new baby and established families with multiple children can have honest conversation with a trained healthcare provider about common signs of postpartum anxiety, perinatal depression, difficult pregnancy, postnatal anxiety, and a systematic review of the postpartum period.
CarePlus New Jersey welcomes first time pregnant moms, mild cases to higher risk pregnancy mothers, and new parents to learn and have access to the services and treatment offered, especially addressing issues like postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression.
If you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms we outlined above and would like to learn more about postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression, please reach out and contact us today.
CarePlus NJ, INC. is dedicated to excellence in mental healthcare and has a commitment to life-long support needed by individuals and their families to ensure that they achieve their full potential and improve the quality of their lives.