Postpartum Anxiety Vs Postpartum Depression: How to Overcome Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum Anxiety Vs Postpartum Depression: How to Overcome Postpartum Anxiety

How does postpartum anxiety differ from postpartum depression? 

Postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression are two common mental health issues that can affect women after they give birth.

These conditions aren't always the same—postpartum anxiety is a type of generalized anxiety disorder, while postpartum depression is a major depressive disorder—but they can have similar symptoms and often go hand in hand. 

Both postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression are treatable, but it's important to know how to tell if you're experiencing one or both of these conditions so you can get the help you need.

There is a whole rave about postpartum depression and while the media attention is admirable, there's a little less fanfare about the other side of the coin, postpartum anxiety. 

The question is what is postpartum anxiety?

What Is Postpartum Anxiety?

Postpartum anxiety is an emotional disorder that affects new mothers in the weeks and months after childbirth. 

It causes feelings of extreme worry, nervousness, fear, or panic when there is no real danger present. 

Postpartum anxiety causes mothers to worry excessively over their newborns. 

This type of anxiety goes way beyond the normal type of worries that mothers have about their children. 

Women who go through postpartum anxiety constantly worry about little things like whether their babies are breathing properly or eating well.

These thoughts consume your entire being and you rarely have the opportunity to think about something else. 

In some cases, mothers develop OCD after childbirth because of the intense need to constantly take care of their child.

If you're experiencing this type of anxiety, you'll constantly be in a state of unrest and dissatisfaction over how you care for your child.

It sometimes makes women overly protective of their children and in worst-case scenarios, they don't allow other people to get close to their children.

You may be asking, 'how do I know that I have postpartum anxiety?'

Postpartum anxiety can be experienced by women who've had a smooth pregnancy and delivery, as well as by those who've had complications.

However, it's most common among women who have experienced complications such as premature delivery or preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy). 

Signs of Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum anxiety can also cause physical symptoms such as:

  • The constant fear of the unknown about your baby's health
  • Racing heart (heart palpitations)
  • Constant and unexplainable fatigue
  • Body tremors
  • Unbalanced sleeping and eating patterns
  • Restlessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Exhaustion/extreme tiredness
  • Constant irritability
  • Nausea/vomiting,
  • Insomnia (difficulty sleeping),
  • Trembling or shaking;
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty concentrating on tasks at home or work
  • Irritability/anger (unreasonable anger);
  • Trouble controlling anger;
  • Feeling out of control/powerless;
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy;
  • Suicidal thoughts/feelings.

Apart from the physical signs of postpartum anxiety, you could also note that the person's emotions will become so disrupted that they;

  • They May become extremely cautious about places that they visit and things that they do with their babies
  • Hold on to the baby and refuse others from holding the child
  • They may become overly controlling and stuck up with anything that concerns their baby.

Causes of Postpartum Anxiety

Having a kid is not a child's play and taking care of children has never been easy. 

When you get pregnant, your hormones become a very active part of your life, and most times, they dictate how act if you can't control them. 

Hormones like oxytocin cause a mother and her baby to bond and when postpartum anxiety kicks in, the function of oxytocin may turn into something fatal. 

This hormone's function is meant for good, but it can easily turn ugly and cause the mother to obsess over the baby if she has postpartum anxiety.

While hormones play a huge role in causing postpartum anxiety, other external factors cause it;

  • Taking care of multiple children: This applied to women who have other kids under their care apart from their newborns. Being a caregiver for both older children and your newborn is not an easy task. This imbalance can cause you to develop anxiety which is referred to here as postpartum anxiety.
  • Lack of sleep: Having a newborn baby changes your sleeping pattern and causes a lack of sleep because babies wake up at odd hours to be cooed or fed. This constant lack of sleep can cause you to develop postpartum anxiety and a terrible sleeping pattern. However, as the child grows older, some of their needs that affect their sleep lessen.
  • Hormones: This plays a vital role in causing postpartum anxiety among women because they change how the woman thinks. If you're not careful, then these hormones can override your common sense and cause you to be irrationally anxious.
  • A non-supportive partner: Parenting is a 50/50 affair so if your partner doesn't assist you then there's a high chance of developing postpartum anxiety because of stress.
  • Newborns with health issues: If you give birth to your baby and they have health issues, you'll become naturally inclined to worry about them. Also, if you're not careful, then that worry will fester into postpartum anxiety.

Treatment for Postpartum Anxiety

  • Practicing aromatherapy: This method works well for a lot of disorders which also include postpartum anxiety. The calming essence of some scented oils will help to soothe you and reduce the effect of your anxiety after childbirth. It is best to visit professionals who will recommend the perfect essential oils for you.
  • Join a support group: It is often said that no man is an island and you shouldn't be the exception, especially when you're battling postpartum anxiety. Joining a support group that consists of mothers will help you since you'll get tips on how to handle motherhood and you'll also voice your worries in a safe and nontoxic environment.
  • Anti-anxiety medications: This is best done with the help of professionals and it is best to avoid self-prescription.
  • Exercise: Keeping your body in shape can positively affect your mind and help you to manage your anxiety. 

How is Postpartum Anxiety different From Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum anxiety brings about irritation and worries over the care of a newborn child and it makes mothers excessively protective over their babies. 

However, postpartum depression on the other hand causes women to become depressed and in worst-case scenarios, they neglect to take care of their kids and themselves as well. 

Postpartum depression has gained a lot of media attention, unlike postpartum anxiety which is still in the process of being properly identified.

Conclusion

It's not clear what causes postpartum anxiety, but it's thought to be related to hormones, genetics, and stress. 

Women who have experienced postpartum anxiety in the past are more likely to develop it again.

It is easy to wave off postpartum anxiety as motherly care of newborns, but it is just as dangerous as any other anxiety out there. 

If you notice any symptoms of postpartum anxiety after childbirth; then seek help because there's no shame in that.

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July 22nd, 2024

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