If you have recently given birth and are experiencing strong, continuous feelings of anxiety and/or worry, you're not alone. Most women experience some level of anxiety after having a child, often known as the "baby blues." Unfortunately, when these feelings don't go away after a couple of weeks or worsen to the point of affecting your eating and sleeping patterns, you may be suffering from a more serious condition known as postpartum anxiety (PPA).
It Can Happen to Anyone
No woman is immune to developing a postpartum mood disorder such as PPA; it can literally happen to any woman, regardless of whether this if your first child or your fifth. Nobody knows for sure what exactly causes PPA, but if you have a predisposition to anxiety, you may be more prone to developing it. All cases of PPA are also linked to major changes and shifts in your body's hormone levels that occur after delivery.
It's Grouped Under PPD
If you seek treatment for postpartum anxiety, don't be surprised to hear your healthcare providers and behavioral health specialists refer to PPA as postpartum depression (PPD). This is because PPA is grouped under the overarching mood disorder known as postpartum depression. The terms are almost always used interchangeably, even though there are marked differences between anxiety and depression..
It's Completely Treatable
The good news is that if you're suffering from PPA, this condition is completely treatable with help from your doctor. You can turn to your OB, primary care physician, or even your child's pediatrician for help with PPA. Most women will choose to see their OBs because they may have a six-week postpartum appointment scheduled already, and this is around when symptoms tend to be the most severe. Your doctor may prescribe you anti-anxiety medications (some of which are safe to take even if you're breastfeeding) and can also give you a referral to a therapist.
It Won't Last Forever
Above all else, it is important to remember that postpartum anxiety will not last forever—even if it seems like it might right now. With the right treatment, you can get your symptoms under control and begin feeling like yourself again in as little as a few weeks.
Postpartum mood disorders are nothing to be ashamed of, and they can happen to anyone. If you're experiencing symptoms of postpartum anxiety, be sure to schedule an appointment with your OB as soon as possible.