What is postpartum anxiety?Postpartum anxiety is the near-constant worry that cannot be eased. Symptoms can present as constant worry, sleep disruption, and even physical symptoms such as hyperventilation and tachycardia. Pretty much the same symptoms of anxiety but with the added stress of parenting. Know that most new parents experience some type of worry in the early stages, and it’s totally normal!
How do I differentiate between postpartum anxiety/new parent worry/postpartum depression, and baby blues?
You have probably heard of postpartum depression (PPD), it has tons of research and gets talked about frequently. But there is much less research on postpartum anxiety (PPA) for now. PPA is more intense and persistent compared to new parent worry, and often the worry is not based on a real problem or threat.
PPA differs from PPD because PPD includes being constantly sad for more than 2 weeks accompanied by a loss of interest, while the basis of PPA is worry. Baby blues on the other hand is less severe than PPD and only lasts a few days.
Approximately 80% of new mothers experience baby blues, which happens due to the drop and adjustment of hormones after birth. However, 10-20% of women are affected by postpartum depression and a smaller 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety, sometimes in conjunction with depression.
Is there a treatment for postpartum anxiety?
An initial step when dealing with anxiety as a new parent could be to talk to your partner, family member, or trusted friend. You can also reach out to others who may have gone through the same thing (ex. support group). Helplines such as Postpartum Support International can guide you to sources near you for support.
If you suspect that you may have PPA, talk to your doctor to find out the best route for yourself. Always keep in mind that you do not have to go through anything alone, affirm yourself and know that there is help out there for you.
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MGH Center for Women's Mental Health. “Is It Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Anxiety? What's the Difference?” MGH Center for Women's Mental Health, 7 Oct. 2015, https://womensmentalhealth.org/posts/is-it-postpartum-depression-or-postpartum-anxiety-whats-the-difference/.
“Postpartum Depression.” ACOG, Nov. 2019, https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/postpartum-depression.
“Postpartum Depression.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 2008, https://www.apa.org/pi/women/resources/reports/postpartum-depression.
“Postpartum and Antepartum Anxiety: Postpartum Support - Psi.” Postpartum Support International (PSI), 11 Dec. 2020, https://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/anxiety/.
“Postpartum Support.” UM Upper Chesapeake Health, https://www.umms.org/uch/health-services/womens-services/family-birthplace/postpartum-support?__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=40NTl9QsM7OA4XDnewF7IxyvlLggGi8qTOfnhDWD75E-1636499242-0-gaNycGzNBhE.