Postpartum anxiety: why so hush-hush?

Postpartum anxiety: why so hush-hush?

anxietyAwareness seems to be rising for postpartum depression. But that isn’t the only mood disorder affecting women in the postpartum period. Less discussed is postpartum anxiety.

According to Postpartum Support International (PSI), about 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women face anxiety. This may also be coupled with depression. Postpartum panic disorder and postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder are forms of anxiety some women may face. Yet there is so little coverage of postpartum anxiety and many women feel uncomfortable sharing their experiences, so many women are left feeling alone or not understanding what they are feeling.

Unfortunately, research shows that OBs are only screening patients for postpartum anxiety 20% of the time, mainly OBs who felt they had adequate training in anxiety disorders. Most OBs believed their training to be “barely adequate to inadequate.” So if people aren’t talking about it, and doctors aren’t often screening for it, what should new mothers and those who care about them know and do?

First, know the symptoms. PSI cites symptoms as:

  • Constant worry
  • Feeling that something bad is going to happen
  • Racing thoughts
  • Disturbances of sleep and appetite
  • Inability to sit still
  • Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea

If you’re having these feelings or have risk factors such as personal or family history of anxiety, previous perinatal depression or anxiety, or thyroid imbalance, please talk to your doctor, reach out to your postpartum doula for referrals, or seek help via the resources here.

Want to know more? Read some mothers’ experiences with postpartum anxiety here and here.

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