Postpartum Anxiety

Updated: Nov 22



You know that thing we talked about earlier called PPD? Well, there is also a thing called

Postpartum Anxiety (PPA). PPA can occur up to a year after childbirth, and sometimes longer if untreated. PPA is when you experience uncontrollable feelings of anxiety that completely consume you with worry, nervousness, or a constant state of panic.


Signs of Postpartum Anxiety


Do you find yourself constantly worrying...

  • That something will happen (even some unrealistic things)

  • Constantly checking the baby monitor even when you’re not home or to a point where you can’t relax or even go to sleep

  • Not wanting others (even loved ones) to watch your child

  • Or just not wanting to have your baby out of your sight


Those are only a few things that you may experience. Some level of worry and anxiety is completely normal and expected even if you have multiple children. BUT, again, if you find it to be constant (all day and all night) and consuming, you may want to

reach out for help.


If you read my previous blog on postpartum depression (PPD) you will know that I keep saying “you’re not crazy”, because it is true. Often times we think that when we experience certain symptoms, we are crazy. Or society makes you feel like you’re crazy for thinking a certain way or feeling certain things because a new baby “should” make you the happiest person in the world. If you’re anything other than that, it’s seen as an issue. AND that’s why we don’t pay attention to what society says!


How common is it?


Studies have shown that PPA affects between 11% and 21% of women. If you have a history of anxiety or depression, whether it runs in your family or you’ve had it before/during pregnancy, it could quite possibly return after delivery. PPA doesn’t discriminate against anyone. You can get it regardless of your age, race, education, income, etc. Your personality type can even make you more susceptible to PPA (for example, if you are a natural worrier).


Symptoms


The Cleveland Clinic provides some examples of what PPA can look like:

  • Staying awake all night because you are afraid your baby will stop breathing in their sleep.

  • Being terrified to leave your baby alone for a few minutes with an adult you trust (or your spouse).

  • Feeling so afraid someone will hurt you or your child that the thought of leaving your house makes your heart race.

  • Or even being afraid that you may hurt your baby.



There are many symptoms of PPD that overlap with PPA. It is possible to have both co-

occurring or separately.


The Cleveland Clinic also provides a great breakdown of physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms:


Physical Symptoms

 Sleep disturbances

 Increased heart rate

 Nausea or stomach aches

 Shortness of breath

 Loss of appetite

 Trouble sitting still

 Muscle tension


Emotional symptoms

 Inability to relax or keep calm.

 Racing thoughts or intrusive thoughts (these can sometimes be intense, not realistic, or indicative of who you are as a person)

 Obsessing over irrational fears or things that are unlikely to happen

 Difficulty focusing or forgetfulness

 Irritability

 Feeling on edge or fearful


Behavioral symptoms

 Avoiding certain activities, people, or places

 Being overly cautious about situations that aren't dangerous

 Checking things over and over again

 Being controlling


**Remember you don’t have to be experiencing all of these symptoms or even half. These are just what symptoms can look like.**


What to do?


Try to start off small, don’t overwhelm yourself. Get some fresh air and do something that brings you joy, whether that’s taking a walk, journaling, working out, reading, taking a bath, getting your nails done, listening to music loudly (this comes highly recommended from me), putting makeup on, whatever you want. AND be present/mindful when doing it!


I’m going to constantly reiterate that you are not alone, you are not crazy, and this IS treatable. Give yourself some grace, there are a lot of moving pieces for you and a lot of changes even if this isn’t your first rodeo.


Reach out for help, talk to your doctor about your symptoms and talk to your loved ones. – There are a variety of options to help you feel better whether it be talk therapy, medication (if you’re interested) or a combination of both.


I get that medication can be an intimidating thing to think about. But ultimately that’s your choice to make. Medication in conjunction with therapy can be very beneficial. Still, you can also get better without medication and with therapy alone. Another great option is seeking out support groups for moms that are going through, or have been through, similar things.


Sidenote: Please know that this is NOT your fault. There are plenty of therapists like us out here that can help you. One thing we have time for in 2022, 2023, and the years to come is putting ourselves first and getting the help we need.


Resources


Keep these numbers handy, or for immediate help go to your nearest emergency room.


988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

Dial or text: 988

En Español: 1-888-628-9454

https://988lifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/


PSI (Postpartum Support International) (Non-Emergencies)

1-800-944-4773, #1 En Español or #2 for English

Text “Help” to 800-944-4773 (English)

Text en Español: 971-203-7773

https://www.postpartum.net/


National Maternal Mental Health Hotline

1-833-943-5746 (1-833-9-HELP4MOMS)

https://mchb.hrsa.gov/national-maternal-mental-health-hotline


References


https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/postpartum-anxiety-an-invisible-disorder-that-can-affect- new-mothers-202107302558

https://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/anxiety/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22693-postpartum-anxiety



Teea Fullen-Barnes is a new therapist at Mindsight. Teea LOVES the Summer. She is obsessed with the sun and water and considers herself a mermaid, part-time for now because she lives in Kentucky. Teea loves to spend time with her Boxer, Harlem as well as her family and friends. She loves to blast music in her car (it’s therapeutic) so you might hear her before you see her :). Teea loves 90s R&B and hip-hop music. Her favorite thing to do is absolutely nothing as she is still working on finding and sticking with a hobby. If you see Teea out (which can be a rare sighting), she will more than likely be wearing a pair of vans!


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