Life completely changes when you have a baby. The first few months can feel overwhelming as you settle into your new, and often changing, routine. One thing that most moms deal with after giving birth is some degree of anxiety. But for a few moms, the anxiety can become all-consuming and overwhelming. Postpartum anxiety is a mood disorder that is highly treatable. There are several symptoms to help you know if you have postpartum anxiety and should seek advice from your doctor.
Dr. Jonathan Abramowitz, associate chairman of psychology and director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Clinic at UNC at Chapel Hill, told told Parents that postpartum anxiety is considered a hidden disorder because it often goes unrecognized and undiagnosed. Moms often brush their symptoms under the rug, assuming that their anxiety will pass on its own once the baby get older. Many don't talk to their doctors about it out of fear of being labeled a bad mother or out of shame because they believe they are the only moms struggling. This is not the case. In fact, a study in Pediatrics of more than 1,100 new mothers found that 17 percent of moms showed symptoms of postpartum anxiety.
Here are some postpartum anxiety symptoms that you should watch out for. If any of these sound like you, talk to your doctor right away.
1. You Are Constantly Worrying
Worrying when you have a new baby is totally normal, but constant worry is a sign of postpartum anxiety, according to Postpartum Support International. This is especially true if you continue to worry about something even if you know intellectually that everything is going to be OK.
2. You Are Restless
Nervousness and agitation go hand-in-hand with anxiety. Psychology Today noted that when normal feelings of stress escalate to feeling out of control or feelings of restlessness, it can be a sign of postpartum anxiety. This can mean anything from being constantly on-the-go to filling every free moment with work or chores.
3. You Are Unable To Focus
Being scattered and forgetful is part of getting used to having a new baby. I had "mommy brain" for years after giving birth. But, the American Pregnancy Association (APA) warned that if you have consistent trouble focusing and can't seem to snap out of it, you might have postpartum anxiety.
4. You Suffer From Insomnia
It's hard to get sleep when you are constantly worrying and agitated, not to mention when you have a baby. But if you can't fall asleep even after everyone else is tucked in and you're exhausted, you may have insomnia. According to Parents, insomnia is a sign that you may be struggling with postpartum anxiety. Disturbances in your sleep should be reported to your doctor.
5. You Have An Extreme Fear Of Something Bad Happening To Your Baby
If you can't shake the thought out of your mind that something terrible is going to happen to your baby, you might be suffering from postpartum anxiety. The UNC School of Medicine's Center For Women's Mood Disorders noted that "repeated thoughts or images of frightening things happening to the baby," is a symptom of postpartum anxiety.
6. You Have Racing Thoughts
If you can't sleep, you probably spend most of the night with racing thoughts. Your mind keeps replaying a particular incident, or is stuck on something you need to accomplish the next day. Fast, repetitive thought patterns about a particular topic is a common symptom of anxiety according to Psychology Today.
7. You Deal With Chest Pains Or Shortness Of Breath
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.