Are you a new mom, or expecting? Do you find yourself preoccupied by the many things that could go wrong with you and your baby, or the things you could happen as a new mom? Do the worries impact your sleep or eating? Do you feel the physical impact of your stress? Do you feel overwhelmed by the many new factors that come with your new role as mom to a newborn? Have you been screened for, or read the criteria for Post Partum Depression, but you don’t “fit” the description, let alone identify with it? You may be one of the many new moms experiencing Post Partum Anxiety (PPA). You are not alone. Post Partum Anxiety is actually more common than Post Partum Depression. More than 15% of new moms experience Post Partum Anxiety.
When we talk about mental health issues and pregnancy and expecting, Post Partum Depression (PPD) is usually the first and really the only thing people discuss. Post Partum Anxiety is a commonly undiagnosed disorder. People, including many medical professionals don’t know it exists, and therefore don’t screen for it. A common mistake that happens is that new moms and the supports around her are only looking for the typical symptoms of Post Partum Depression. So even though you’re suspecting something is off, when you or others don’t see the typical depressed symptoms (sleeping all of the time, crying, inability to get out of bed, etc), you think that maybe nothing is wrong, and it’s just you. Many women don’t know there is a name to what their experiencing because it isn’t talk about. Look over the below description and list to assess if you identify with any of the PPA criteria.
What is Post Partum Anxiety?
Also known as “PPA” Post Partum Anxiety is constant worry, feeling and being on edge, sleepless nights, restlessness, and even possible irritability. Some women describe it as your worried thoughts constantly running in your brain like a news ticker, or feeling like your stomach is in knots. It’s feeling overwhelmed to the point that your typical functioning is impacted, whether it’s losing sleep, or fixating over cleaning because you’re so overwhelmed by your schedule, etc.
Please keep in mind, you may not fit the above description to a t to benefit from treatment for PPA. Everyone’s experience of the description and the symptoms will look different, but if there is any of it that you feel connects to your current situation, consider discussing this further with someone knowledgeable of PPA, or reading peer supported blogs on the issue to help you further explore just how much you can relate to PPA.
Common Symptoms of PPA
- You are worried. A LOT. Maybe even constantly.
- You have a constant sense of dread. Like that feeling when you leave the house and feel like you know you forgot something, but you just don’t know what. But more intense.
- Feeling overwhelmed and stress by all things big and small.
- Racing thoughts
- No appetite
- Can’t find asleep
- Can’t relax
- You experience the scary “What if’s” “What if I drop the baby? What if the baby stops breathing? What if my baby is crying in the middle of the night and I don’t hear her because I’m sleeping?
- You may not know exactly what you “have,” but you know in your gut that something isn’t right with how you’re feeling and thinking.
Every mother’s treatment plan and road to recovery will look different. Commonly used and most effective responses to treat PPA include medication and talk therapy, with the approach being Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Many psychotherapists practice CBT, just ask when you call.
I often describe the effects of medication as picturing someone pulling back a window curtain to let the light come in. Or putting a new set of batteries in a remote. Medication for PPA can help decrease the volume and the frequency of the anxious “noise” that is coming from your brain and your thoughts. This then allows you to do the work to find and try out effective coping skills from relaxation skills, to journaling/tracking anxious thoughts, and use of exercise and meditation. A therapist who uses the approach of CBT can help you address and learn to understand how your anxious brain works and develop more effective ways to deal with your anxious brain and the thoughts/worries that come out.
Be cautious in delaying treatment for your PPA. Just like many untreated issues, PPA can intensify and worsen in symptoms, or even develop into Depression. PPA isn’t something to “wait out.”
The best and most important thing you can do to address your PPA is TALK ABOUT IT. Do not isolate yourself, or hide your pain. There is someone ready to listen, ready to say “me too!” There is someone to help you find your path to recovery. If you have further questions or would like to schedule with Aimee Wood. Help is available today. Call: 610 608 0390.