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What is Postpartum Anxiety & How to Cope with It?

What is Postpartum Anxiety & How to Cope with It?

No one ever said parenting would be easy. Worth it? Yes, even if it doesn’t seem like it on the bad days. You brought your newborn baby home and knew you would experience a significant life transition. Having a child changes all aspects of your life from scheduling, relationships, to values. While some of these changes are undoubtedly positive, a significant amount of uncertainty comes with having another human who relies entirely on you.

While you weren’t expecting it to be 24/7 bliss, individuals with postpartum anxiety are often shocked at the intensity of the worry and fear that can occur upon bringing their child home from the hospital.

It is normal and appropriate for parents to worry about their children and safety, especially as they develop and become more independent. However, if you feel that your anxiety is significant and getting in the way of being present in your life and with your new family you may be struggling with postpartum anxiety.

What Is Postpartum Anxiety?

Most people have heard of postpartum depression but aren’t as familiar with postpartum anxiety.

Postpartum anxiety is when a parent worries excessively after the birth of their child or adoption. It’s to be expected that you will worry about various aspects of this new chapter. It’s a strange transition, after all, from only being responsible for yourself to having a tiny human being who relies on you to meet all their emotional and physical needs. However, individuals who deal with postpartum anxiety experience these worrisome thoughts with more intensity and frequency than others.

Postpartum anxiety can be all-consuming. It often involves irrational fears over your child, resulting in rumination, excessive reassurance seeking, difficulty sleeping, and other physiological symptoms of anxiety such as rapid heartbeat or feeling on edge. Often times individuals who struggle with postpartum anxiety experience intrusive thoughts around their child that they find highly distressing. These anxious thoughts can become the center of your focus, making it hard to focus on your daily life.

Signs of Postpartum Anxiety

There are many signs of postpartum anxiety besides excessive worries. These can include:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Rumination over worst-case scenarios or situations
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Being overly cautious, even in situations that don’t warrant it.
  • Nausea or stomach aches
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Waking up constantly throughout the night, even if your baby is sound asleep.
  • Increased heart rate

Causes of Postpartum Anxiety

There are several possible causes of postpartum anxiety including genetic, environmental, and hormonal factors.  For instance, if someone has a history of anxiety or depression prior to pregnancy, it increases the chances of postpartum anxiety or depression developing.

After childbirth, a woman’s hormones rapidly change as the body tries to return to normal. This fluctuation in hormones can play a massive role in someone experiencing postpartum anxiety.

Additionally, sleep deprivation is a common theme among new parents. When your body isn’t getting the rest and healing time it needs at night, it can cause your mental health to be impacted.

How to Deal with Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum anxiety can be a very isolating experience for a woman. While it may seem rare to experience this, it is more common than you may believe. Many women either struggle or are hesitant to voice the anxieties that they are facing after they give birth.

There are several things you can do to learn to cope with your anxiety. This could be seeking support from family and friends, reframing unhelpful thoughts, and engaging in self-care.

Exercising, or at least walking, a little bit each day can also help to naturally boost serotonin levels in your body. Serotonin is a hormone that is released by the body and promotes feelings of calmness and balance.

One of the best ways to deal with postpartum anxiety is by speaking with a licensed mental health professional who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. There is no shame in admitting that you are struggling to deal with this new chapter. The clinicians at the OCD and Anxiety Center are trained in evidence-based therapies and specialize in Postpartum Anxiety and OCD, reach out today!

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2805 Butterfield Road suite 120
Oak Brook, IL 60523

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