Postpartum Anxiety: It’s Real, and We Need to Talk About it More

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a pretty common topic amongst new mothers and their doctors.  While a woman is pregnant she will be constantly monitored to assess for change in moods, and once she gives birth she will continue to be monitored once again for any change in moods, specifically assessing for depression.  It is stereotypical now for us to assess for PPD but something that is not discussed enough in our society is postpartum anxiety.  It is a very real thing, and the writer of this post on Our Brave Faces, Alicia Harney explained how she remembers when her anxiety became a struggle:

I felt the anxiety hit for the first time a couple of days after Sophia was born. She had a poopy diaper. I remember asking my husband if he could change her since I was still recovering from my c-section and couldn’t bend over without some discomfort. That wasn’t the real reason why I asked him. The truth was that I was terrified to touch her. Terrified that somehow, someway, I would accidentally hurt her, this fragile little being, so in need of love and warmth and ME. I didn’t want to let her down. Yet, I still didn’t address this as anxiety. I lied to myself.

Characteristics of anxiety can include racing, irrational thoughts that can be triggered by people, places, things, and ideas. Harney explained how her anxiety shaped her thinking,

I was never worried I would do something on purpose to harm my child; I was worried the universe would do it all for me.

Also, anxiety itself can be masked by similar symptoms that can mimic medical problems, and vice versa. Harney discusses going down the road of medical tests to evaluate possible reasons for her heart palpitations and high blood pressure.  After going down that long, stressful road the topic of mental health concerns arose and new options became available. Postpartum Anxiety can be treated with psychological counseling, medications, and a combination of the two.  This topic needs to be discussed more; We need to end the stigma that it is not okay to talk about PPA or PPD.  Click the link to read the rest of the article and how Harney battled PPA and overcame her struggles in her first years of motherhood:

Our Brave Faces: Alicia’s Story-Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop