Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety

“This is not what I expected.” A statement we often hear from our clients who have given birth to their children and have been experiencing extreme mood changes. The contributing factors include changes in hormone levels; a difficult pregnancy; medical problems (mother or baby); traumatic birth, lack of sleep; feeling alone; loss of freedom; sudden changes in routines; personal or family history of depression; prior experience with postpartum depression; and high levels of stress. During this time, women often feel limited in their ability to care for their child or for themselves. A major marker is the feeling of helplessness: “Will this feeling ever end?”

Women of every culture, age, income level and race can develop perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Approximately 15-20% of women experience postpartum depression or anxiety. Postpartum depression is characterized by sadness, low energy, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, reduced desire for sex, crying episodes, anxiety, irritability and hopelessness.

Approximately, 6-10% women develop postpartum anxiety and the numbers are increasingly rising due to the stressful lifestyle of our environment. Postpartum anxiety has a high co-occurrence with postpartum depression. Symptoms include constant worry about the present and the future, fear of harm to the baby, racing thoughts, disturbed sleep and appetite, restlessness, dizziness, and nausea.

Other postpartum concerns include postpartum rage, postpartum OCD, postpartum psychosis.

Symptoms can appear any time during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth. Postpartum mood symptoms can be debilitating and many women suffer their pain in silence. Please know that with informed care you can prevent a worsening of these symptoms and can fully recover. Read more on the postpartum.com website.

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