A lot of people have heard of postpartum depression, the baby blues, or even postpartum psychosis, but not many people are familiar with postpartum anxiety. Of course, it is completely natural to experience anxieties, fears, or worries about your new addition to the family. Still, postpartum anxiety is characterized as an extreme and excessive state of worry that never stops.
Caring for a baby is tough. There are a lot of challenges and situations to navigate that can be overwhelming — especially for first-time parents. But, if you notice that your worrying is interfering with your ability to relax and care for or interact with your family, you may be experiencing postpartum anxiety.
In this article, we will talk about postpartum anxiety, its causes, and how to cope with it.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Before diving into the causes of postpartum anxiety, we need to address some of the common symptoms this particular type of anxiety can have.
There are three categories of postpartum anxiety symptoms: physical, emotional, and behavioral. Not everyone will have the same symptoms, and not all symptoms will appear the same in each person. This said, here are some of the most common symptoms of postpartum depression
- Loss of appetite
- Restless or disrupted sleep
- Feeling short of breath
- Muscle tension
- Increased heart rate
- Feeling fidgety or restless
- Racing thoughts and dwelling on worst-case scenarios
- Obsessing over irrational fears
- Being forgetful or having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling fearful
- Being unable to relax or calm down
- Being irritable
- Being overly cautious about harmless situations or things
- Avoiding certain situations, activities, people, or places
- Being overly controlling
- Checking things — such as your child — over and over again
What Causes Postpartum Anxiety?
Realistically speaking, it is incredibly challenging to boil postpartum anxiety into a single cause. This said many common factors can contribute to and lead to postpartum anxiety.
- Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation
- The shift in hormone levels after delivery
- Stressful events
- Feelings of responsibility
- Previous or current health conditions and past experiences
How to Cope with Postpartum Anxiety
Most people will find coping strategies that are effective for them if given enough time and space. But if you want to accelerate this process and be able to overcome your postpartum anxiety faster, you can try out some of our coping tips below!
Focus on Healthy Habits
You may want to incorporate many healthy habits into your life if you haven’t already, but here, we’re going to focus on just two. Healthy eating and healthy resting. Our bodies need nourishment and rest to function. Without these, you will have a much harder time recovering from anything — including postpartum anxiety.
So, try to opt for healthy meals, nutritious snacks, and lots of water or hydrating beverages like green tea. Make sure that you get rest when you can. We know newborns do not have the best reputation regarding regular sleep schedules, but they do sleep. You can use this time to your advantage and get some rest for yourself as well.
Cuddle Your Baby
Yes. That beautiful child that you’ve just added to your family. Give them a big hug, and spend time cuddling them. Physical contact with your baby actually releases oxytocin (one of our brain’s “happy chemicals”) which can do wonders when it comes to reducing levels of anxiety.
Speaking of releasing happy chemicals in the brain, exercise is a powerful anxiety-reducing exercise. Exercise releases endorphins in our brains and gets us feeling energized and productive. Even if you aren’t yet up for a trip to the gym or a morning run, there are plenty of ways you can get your body moving.
You could try a more relaxed form of exercise, like yoga or going for a walk until you feel up to getting a more high-impact or strenuous workout into your schedule.
Talk to Others
Talking it out really is one of the best ways to address and overcome anxieties like postpartum anxiety. You can talk to your spouse, parents, siblings, friends, or even other mothers in a support group. All of these individuals (or groups) will have different viewpoints to bring to the table, and you can get your worries out in a safe and supportive environment.
Mindfulness and breathing exercises are great when it comes to managing stress and anxiety. They help us to connect more deeply and intentionally with our bodies and address the tensions we may be feeling. If you’d like to incorporate more mindfulness into your life, you can try joining a meditation group or practicing yoga.
If none of the strategies mentioned above are doing it for you, or you are experiencing severe postpartum anxiety that is really impacting your daily life, it may be best to contact a therapist or counselor. A licensed mental healthcare professional can help you not only find the most effective coping strategies for your particular situation but also help you work through your anxiety on a more personalized basis.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us today at Love Heal Grow if you would like to get in touch with one of our experienced therapists.