The birth of her first child filled Alicia Hemingway (name changed) with unwarranted anxiety. The 26-year-old San Diego mom’s constant state of turmoil over the health of her child had caused her family to panic and consult a psychologist. Alicia’s therapist informed her that she suffered from symptoms of postpartum anxiety (PPA), a psychological disorder that she had never heard of before.
In the United States, an increasing number of women are afflicted with PPA, a mental illness frequently misunderstood as postpartum depression (PPD). Though both the mental conditions are experienced by new mothers, psychologists maintain that the two emotional disorders are different in the way they affect. As bringing up a newborn can be stressful, affected mothers tend to experience debilitating levels of anxiety. If left untreated, anxiety levels can adversely affect their ability to function normally.
Explaining postpartum anxiety
Postpartum anxiety can affect new mothers in two ways: Either they fear of feeding something that would harm the child or imagine ways that might result in accidently hurting the baby. In a study titled “Perinatal anxiety disorder prevalence and incidence,” a group of researchers tried to examine the pervasiveness of postpartum anxiety problems. The researchers in their study published online in the Journal of Affective Disorders in April 2016 highlighted how the problem of anxiousness and related anxiety disorders affected more than 15 percent of participants comprising pregnant and postpartum women. The findings also indicated the growing prevalence of anxiety problems compared with pervasiveness of depression among pregnant and postpartum women.
Ironically, public campaigns to educate and inform more about postpartum depression instead of postpartum anxiety despite the latter being more common. As per the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders affect about 44 million American adults in the country. However, ADAA does not give any specific percentage of pregnant and postpartum women suffering from the condition.
According to the Postpartum Support International (PSI), nearly 6 percent of expectant mothers and 10 percent of postpartum women develop anxiety. Experts say that pregnant and postpartum women can experience anxiety alone, or they may sometimes suffer from it in addition to depression. The common symptoms of PPA include constant worry, racing thoughts, disturbances of sleep and appetite, dizziness and nausea.
Getting rid of postpartum anxiety
Treatment for postpartum anxiety is possible, though the biggest hurdle is that most women realize that they are manifesting signs of an emotional disorder, and mistake their feelings of stress to be associated with motherhood. Such women complain of feeling tired all the time. It is necessary that new or expectant moms who seek help for their depression must tell their counselors that they are suffering from anxiety problems too. Detailed screening will help psychologists determine the exact nature of mental disease for which their patients need treatment.
Experts say that women having a history of anxiety are at a higher risk of developing PPA. Also, high expectation can play a role in developing the condition. Either it be an anxiety disorder or PPA, timely treatment is the key to deal with the mental condition. If you or your loved one is feeling dizzy and nauseous and tend to panic extremely, you may consult counselors at Sovereign Health’s world-class anxiety treatment center. For more information about our treatment center for anxiety, call our 24/7 helpline or chat with our online representative.