What is postpartum anxiety?

Most new moms feel stress and worry, but sometimes it can be worse than that. Postpartum anxiety is when those feelings of worry become constant, and it’s a serious medical condition that affects about one in five of new moms. Postpartum anxiety, or PPA for short, isn’t as familiar as postpartum depression, but it can be fueled by the same factors, like hormones and lack of sleep in the months before and after childbirth.

Signs of postpartum anxiety include:

  • Constantly feeling on edge
  • Inability to sit still
  • Irritability
  • Sleeplessness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea, hot flashes, or dizziness
  • Racing or irrational thoughts
  • Lack of focus
  • Intrusive thoughts about something bad happening to your baby

If you feel these things more often than not, please call your doctor. PPA can happen to anyone, even moms who have never experienced anxiety before. It’s not your fault, and it definitely doesn’t mean you are a bad mom.

There are a number of different anxiety disorders that women can struggle with postpartum, such as PTSD, panic disorders, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, so it is helpful to speak to a provider to get appropriate treatment. Many new moms experience postpartum depression and anxiety at the same time, but both are completely treatable with therapy, medication (even if you’re breastfeeding), or both. While it might be tempting to just deal with PPA on your own, the truth is that it doesn’t usually go away on its own. Untreated PPA can affect your health, your relationships with friends and family, and even important connections with your baby. With treatment, PPA is only temporary, and you deserve to feel as good as you can to enjoy this time with your new family.

For more information, visit Women’s Behavioral Health at Allegheny Health Network.

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If you feel that you’re in deep depression and you fear that there is immediate danger, such as self-harm or harm to your baby, please call 911 or 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) for help.

To find support and resources outside of Western PA, contact Postpartum Support International at postpartum.net or call 1-800-944-4773.

To find out more information about how AHN Women is innovating the treatment of postpartum depression and anxiety, follow AHN on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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