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What Causes Postpartum Anxiety?

Before you had your baby, it was understandable that you were a little nervous, anxious, and on edge. You were about to bring a new life into this world—someone to care for, feed, nurture. You wanted to make sure you did everything you could to make sure your baby would be healthy, safe, and protected. Having a little anxiety from time to time, especially when faced with something new, like a child and the birthing process, is completely understandable.

But you thought that your anxiety would pass or at least get a little better once your baby actually arrived. You were told that you’d fall into being a parent naturally. But now you seem to be worrying about every single detail of being a parent.

Are you feeding them enough? Is your baby sleeping enough? How do you know if they are truly happy? When they’re sleeping, are they still breathing? What if you accidentally drop them? What if you fall asleep and don’t hear them crying for you?

The worries are neverending.

Let’s learn more about postpartum anxiety as well as the signs and symptoms of it.

What is Postpartum Anxiety?

Postpartum anxiety is the excessive worry or fear that occurs after childbirth or adopting a child. Postpartum anxiety isn’t just something that mothers can experience, either. Mothers and fathers can both experience it during the postpartum period after having a baby or becoming a parent. Postpartum anxiety can make you feel worried throughout your entire day and night. It may even cause you to have irrational fears about events that are very unlikely even to happen.

The Cause

There isn’t one specific cause of postpartum anxiety. These are some of the most common factors that can lead to postpartum anxiety:

  • Dealing with health conditions or a family member with a health condition
  • Family history of anxiety or depression
  • History of eating disorders
  • Hormonal changes
  • Lack of sleep
  • Little to no support from a loved one
  • Personality
  • Responsibility of another human
  • Stressful life events

The Signs and Symptoms

Anxiety is a natural response that your body has toward any perceived dangers or threats. Anxiety is just as common as any other type of emotion, like happiness, sadness, anger, or jealousy. There are many different behavioral, emotional, and physical signs and symptoms that you may feel as a reaction to your state of constant worry and fear.

The Behavioral Symptoms

These are some of the most common behavioral signs and symptoms of postpartum anxiety:

  • Avoidance of certain people or places
  • Controlling activities, situations, events, and others
  • Overly cautious, even in safe situations or places
  • Repetitive checks

The Emotional Symptoms

These are some of the most common emotional signs and symptoms of postpartum anxiety:

  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus
  • Memory loss or forgetfulness
  • Obsessing over things that are unlikely to happen
  • On edge
  • Ruminative negative thoughts
  • Trouble staying calm

The Physical Symptoms

These are some of the most common physical signs and symptoms of postpartum anxiety:

  • Difficulty staying still or in one place
  • Digestive issues
  • Hyperactive
  • Inability to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tense muscles

Treatment Options and Next Steps

If you’re struggling with postpartum anxiety, you’re not alone. It’s extremely common, especially for new parents, to experience a little anxiety from time to time. If the anxiety you’re dealing with is starting to impact your life in a negative way, it’s time to reach out for additional support. We’re here to help you when you’re ready. Reach out to us today to set up a consultation  for perinatal mental health.

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