Getting diagnosed with postpartum anxiety (PPA) as a new mom can feel earth shattering. You had so many dreams and expectations about your new life with Baby, and suddenly your mind and body feel as though they are betraying you. The good news is that you talked to your doctor and are now on the road to recovery. Before you know it, you'll start to see signs you're overcoming postpartum anxiety.
Postpartum anxiety affects many new moms. According to Postpartum Support International, six percent of pregnant women and 10 percent of postpartum women will develop anxiety. Parents noted that postpartum anxiety is referred to as the "hidden disorder" because it often goes unrecognized and undiagnosed. The good news is that postpartum anxiety is temporary, and you will start to feel better once you seek treatment.
When you're symptoms are under control, professional counseling can help you work through the non-biological causes of your anxiety. This means looking into what is triggering anxiety as a brain response and figuring out a way to overcome those triggers. Before you know it, you will have the skills to cope with your anxiety now and deal with anxiety-inducing situations in the future.
Here are some signs that you are overcoming your PPA.
1. You've Sought Treatment
A study in Pediatrics of more than 1,100 new mothers found that 17 percent of moms showed symptoms of postpartum anxiety. If left untreated, Parents warned, postpartum anxiety can interfere with your ability to bond with your baby. Don't avoid treatment because you feel embarrassed or ashamed of these feelings. You are not alone. Getting treatment early is the key to overcoming PPA as quickly as possible.
If you have talked to your doctor about your anxiety, you have taken the first step to kicking PPA's ass.
2. You've Found A Medication That Works
A lot of moms battling mood disorders worry about taking medication to manage their symptoms because they fear it will mean giving up on breastfeeding. You don't have to stop nursing. According to Postpartum Progress, SSRI medication (like Zoloft) and benzodiazepines (like Klonopin) are usually very helpful in treating PPA and are known to be safe for breastfeeding moms. If your meds are working, you are one step closer to overcoming your PPA.
3. You've Made Peace With How You'll Feed Your Baby
Breastfeeding is a double-edged sword for a mom with PPA. One one hand, Director of Clinical Services for the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center for Women’s Mental Health, Dr. Marlene Freeman, told Postpartum Progress that having difficulty with breastfeeding can add to a woman’s depressive or anxious symptoms. On the other hand, The MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health cited a 2012 study which found that breastfeeding cessation was associated with an increase in levels of anxiety and depression. In other words, you could be at risk for worsening symptoms of PPA whether you continue to work through your breastfeeding struggles, or your decide to stop breastfeeding – but either scenario can mean an improvement your symptoms, as well.
If you have gotten to the point where you have made peace with how you feed your baby, you're on the path to getting better.
4. You've Gotten Your Thyroid Checked
According to the Journal For Nurse Practitioners, moms with a diagnosis of postpartum thyroiditis (PPT) often present symptoms of severe anxiety. In fact, many of the symptoms for PPT are identical to those of PPA or PPD. If you have gotten your thyroid checked and any thyroid issues treated, you are on the fast-track to feeling like yourself again.
5. You Are Getting Some Sleep
According to Parents, insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of postpartum anxiety. If you are finally getting some much-needed shut-eye, your body is starting to recover, and you will be feeling like a new woman in no time.
6. You Worry Less
The UNC School of Medicine's Center For Women's Mood Disorders noted that a lot of moms with PPA have "repeated thoughts or images of frightening things happening to the baby." Additionally, according to Psychology Today, fast, repetitive thought patterns about a particular topic is also a common symptom of anxiety. One sign that you're getting better is having fewer bouts of excessive worry and racing thoughts
7. You Haven't Had A Panic Attack Recently
According to Dr. Christina G. Hibbert of Pyschotherapy.com, chest pains and shortness of breath can be signs of postpartum panic disorder which is a form of postpartum anxiety. It's a really good sign if you've gone some time without a panic attack.