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My Struggle With Postpartum Anxiety Disorder


My Struggle With Postpartum Anxiety Disorder

The following information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

When my third child was born after a medically complicated pregnancy, I was on the lookout for signs of Postpartum Depression. I’d experienced PPD after my second child was born, so I knew what it felt like — and I didn’t have any of the classic signs.

My short-temperateness, anxious worry and unusual dread? I chalked those up to fatigue and being out-of-practice having a newborn. But these symptoms didn’t go away with more sleep and practice. 

Like many new mothers, including members of the Circle of Moms community for moms experiencing postpartum issues, I had no idea that Postpartum Anxiety Disorder even existed.

As mom Sarah S. said, “I didn't know the postpartum period could bring on anxiety - I only knew about depression.”

What Does Postpartum Anxiety Disorder Look Like?

While the stresses of being mom to a new little person inevitably cause some anxiety, postpartum anxiety disorder is so much more than just being a little nervous.  Women suffering from this are overwhelmed with fears and worries about their babies, themselves and the world in general.

After her baby was born, Circle of Moms member Alisha D. said her anxiety “was so bad” she couldn’t even drive. Renee N. described her experience with the disorder in detail. “I panic if the house isn't clean or if I haven't organized dinner or washing... I find it hard to breathe, I get shaky, my heart races, I get a headache and I feel light headed,” she said.

In my case, I knew my anxiety was beyond the norm when I was overcome by a sense a dread that something terrible was going to happen to my family when they were out of my sight. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep because my mind was racing with worries.

When my baby cried, I was paralyzed by fear. I knew what he needed from me, but yet I was convinced I couldn’t provide it. I was surprised to find that other Circle of Moms members have experienced similar worries and fears.

 

Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety Disorder

While Postpartum Anxiety Disorder shares some of the same symptoms of Postpartum Depression, including irritability, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue, the sadness and feelings of hopelessness that are hallmark symptoms of PPD aren’t always there with PPD. Instead, new moms with PAD are more likely to have:

  • Difficulty making decisions and completing everyday tasks
  • A sense of doom or dread and a constant feeling of uneasiness
  • Trouble relaxing and sleeping
  • Panic attacks

Getting Help

Seeking help is key in dealing with Postpartum Anxiety, but even this can be anxiety-provoking. Many moms avoid seeking help when they’re struggling because they’re afraid they’ll be judged.

It feels very threatening to talk about it because you might feel like everyone is watching you or thinking bad thoughts about you,” admitted  Circle of Moms member, Melissa.  “I was afraid that if I talked to someone, they make take [my baby] away from me.”

Other mothers don’t reach out because they don’t want to take medication. While antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds are often used, they are not the only solution.   

 

Talking to a Counselor

A number of new mothers find it helps to talk to a counselor or therapist, someone who acknowledges your panic is real and who can provide you with ways to counteract it. Despite her concerns, that’s what a member named Melissa did. “Find someone that you can trust to talk to, it really does help lots,” she advises.

Rachel E. also saw a therapist, who gave her a number of coping techniques to try when she felt overwhelmed by anxiety. Among the techniques she shares with other moms is to “listen to what your anxiety is telling you” and then “take what your anxiety is saying and reverse the tape.”  

You Are Not Alone

While you’re in the midst of it, all of those worries compound to make it feel as though you’ll never bond with your baby, you'll ruin your relationship with your partner and will never be able to breathe again. In my case, once I  finally admitted I wasn’t myself anymore, a combination of therapy and medication helped me become less anxious.

(If you need  more information or help finding support, contact  Postpartum Support International.)

The preceding information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

Image Source: Jerry Bunkers via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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