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Freedom from postpartum anxiety: When to seek help

Published on:11 August 2021, 15:00pm IST
It is very normal to experience anxiety after having a baby, but if the problem persists or interferes with your daily life, you must seek help.
Grace Bains
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postpartum anxiety
It is okay to seek help for postpartum anxiety. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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The birth of a child is an emotional life event, and it is natural for a mother to feel both joy and fear. In some cases, these wide range of emotions may trigger anxiety, causing new moms to feel stressed, fatigued, and face sleep difficulties. Besides, Covid-19 has made matters worse due to the threat of infection and uncertainty with respect to the future.

While feeling anxious and overwhelmed after childbirth is normal to an extent, some women may experience long and severe spells of anxiety. This form of aggravated anxiety could lead to panic attacks, and so, it is important to seek medical help in certain cases.

What is postpartum anxiety?

Postpartum anxiety is a condition that causes lethargy, an unending negative stream of thoughts, and an acute sense of hopelessness. These factors become a hindrance for new mothers to care for their baby or themselves. This anxiety is overwhelming and uncontrollable and can inhibit your daily functioning. Postpartum anxiety disorder could occur in the time period from immediately post-birth to a year post-birth.

postpartum anxiety
Postpartum anxiety can interfere with your daily life. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

A steep drop in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) after childbirth may be a contributory factor to this condition. New mothers could also experience a drop in hormones produced by the thyroid gland, leaving them feeling tired, and anxious. Other factors that could cause postpartum anxiety include sleep deprivation, self-doubt regarding the ability to care for the newborn, and body image issues.

When is the right time to seek help?

Timely diagnosis and treatment can help manage the symptoms, and enable new moms to bond with their newborn babies. It is important to seek medical help when you experience any of these symptoms:

1. Long-lasting disinterest

It is common to experience stress, urge to cry and anxiety in the first week after childbirth. However, if this feeling persists, then it could be a sign of postpartum anxiety. Associated symptoms also include hyperventilation and panic attacks. You may also experience a growing disinterest in things you used to like before childbirth, such as eating your favourite foods or watching a movie of your liking.

2. Lethargy and disturbed sleep

Some women may find it difficult to make decisions, such as what meals to have, utilities to buy or which doctor to visit. This indicates a diminished sense of control and is followed by a general spell of lethargy and fatigue, which prohibits new mothers from getting out of bed, bathe, or changing their baby’s diaper. Also, in case you are not able to rest and catch some well-deserved sleep even when your child is resting, then it could be a sign of postpartum anxiety.

postpartum anxiety
Postpartum anxiety can have a long-lasting impact on your mental health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Perpetual self-doubt

A common sign of postpartum anxiety is new moms doubting their abilities to take care of their babies. This is especially prevalent in cases where the baby is unwell or premature. This can cause mothers to exhibit physical symptoms such as increased heart palpitations, sweating, and trembling of legs.

Seeking diagnosis and treatment for postpartum anxiety will help you feel healthy, and support your baby’s growth and development.

Grace Bains Grace Bains

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book.