The time after a baby is born is known as the postpartum time. There are lots of changes and adjustments. There is certainly a new mental load. Some new parents can experience a postpartum mood and anxiety disorder (PMADs). One PMAD in particular may be more common than you think, and is underreported. It is good to understand what postpartum anxiety (PPA) is.
More and more society is understanding that both mothers, and fathers are going through a lot. We are finally opening up and talking about PMADS. This is good news as no one needs to feel alone or without help when experiencing these.
So what are the symptoms of postpartum anxiety?
These thoughts may or may not be rational. They could be about the baby. It may teeter on absurd thoughts. But you can’t stop thinking it. It may even mean not being able to shake the thought either.
Inability to sleep–
We all know new parents can be sleep deprived. But if no sleep at all is happening this may be another story.
Loss of appetite
Physical symptoms such as dizziness or nausea-
I have had one person tell me that she was seeing doctor after doctor over vertigo spells. They couldn’t quite figure it out. Then with a diagnosis of anxiety it all started to connect and make sense. The vertigo was related to PPA.
Rage and Irritability–
Sometimes anxiety can present as anger. You may just be in an irritable state often. Maybe you go from 0 to 10 super fast. Some other real life examples are:
Your toddler drops something. It really shouldn’t be a big deal, but you yell at her from across the room. Or your baby is crying so loud and you had enough. You yell, “SHUT THE F@%K UP!”
These symptoms are longer lasting. Likely not just a fleeting day or two. These are more intense feelings and thoughts that interfere with the person’s daily life and maybe even interfere with bonding to the baby. Some people even experience panic attacks. Keep in mind the onset of these symptoms can be at different time frames for every person. From shortly after birth or even 18 months later.
what do you do if you think you or someone you love has Postpartum Anxiety?
It is a good idea to encourage someone you know experiencing these things to reach out to their trusted health care provider. Their OBGYN, midwife, therapist, or PCP should be knowledgeable and helpful.
If you are the support person, listen to your loved one and do not judge them for their thoughts or try to fix them. Simply listen and help them get the support they need.
What does help for postpartum anxiety look like?
Helping the symptoms of PPA can look different for every individual. There is no one size fits all. Some options that are helpful are talk therapy, support groups, and medication. A health care professional trained to assist in anxiety can help guide you on the path that will help you or your loved one.
It is ok to admit you feel these feelings if you are the one experiencing the symptoms. YOU ARE NOT A BAD PARENT if you exhibit any of these symptoms, and there is support for you to feel better. You deserve to feel better.
A couple of support options we trust are:
Better Help dot com– It is online and they match you with a local provider.
Tina Gutman- She provides support specifically to postpartum individuals.
As doulas we are always here to be that unbiased listening ear. We are the extra helpful hands when things can be overwhelming. We can also help you find the resources you need to get the help you deserve.
Authored by: Andrea Stainbrook