The Hidden Disease: Postpartum Anxiety

We're all aware of postpartum depression, but according to a new article in USA Today postpartum anxiety affects just as many new moms as the better-known mood disorder.

Approximately 15% of women report having anxiety or depression after giving birth. The symptoms can occur during the pregnancy as well, and both are considered Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. 

Read more about the risk factors for postpartum depression

Founder and director of the Postpartum Stress Center Karen Kleiman told USA Today, "This type of anxiety paralyzes moms from functioning the way they normally would." Dr. Jonathan Abramowitz, director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Clinic at University of North Carolina calls it a hidden disorder "because so few moms recognize it and it goes undiagnosed ... it hasn't been discussed or studied much."

Sometimes moms who have experienced postnatal depression after one pregnancy can be confused by postnatal anxiety. Seattle mom Katie Kavulla told "I'd get hot and sweaty and irritable, and I turned into a late-night worrier. It was like there was a scrolling list of concerns going through my mind, and I had trouble sleeping. That wasn't like me." Since the symptoms were so different from her postnatal depression, she didn't know how to label them. Only after speaking with her pediatrician did she discover she had postpartum anxiety.

Read more about your post-baby body

While there is still much research to be done as to the cause, some believe the massive hormonal changes post-delivery can trigger mood disorders. Environmental stress, lack of sleep, and disruption to your normal routine can also be triggers. 

Postpartum anxiety can affect anyone, but women with a personal or family history of mood disorders like anxiety or depression, extreme PMS symptoms, eating disorders, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are especially at risk. Another study also shows women who have previously had a miscarriage are also more likely to develop postpartum anxiety and depression following a healthy delivery. 

Read more about prenatal depression

Symptoms to Watch For

-persistent thoughts of harm coming to your baby
-physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, dizziness, nausea
-insomnia or disturbed sleep
-panic attacks
-fear of everyday situations such as driving or taking your baby to the park
-restlessness and unstable moods

If you think you may be experiencing postpartum anxiety, speak to your pediatrician, ob-gyn, GP, or other primary health practitioner. Some women have found mindfulness and meditation practices helpful, while others turned to exercise, and others still found hormonal balancing key to recovery. Remember, you're not alone and help is available.

By Steph Davidson| July 04, 2017
Categories:  Live

About the Author

Steph Davidson

Steph Davidson

Steph is a writer and editor with a love of tea, books, and horror movies. Steph grew up under the impression that most meals came out of a box and had to contain some sort of animal protein. When an interest in a more environmentally friendly way of living led to her vegetarianism in 2012, she decided to teach herself how to cook. You can catch her kitchen wins (and the occasional opportunity for improvement) on Instagram @_stephinitely_.


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