Postpartum Depression is not a discussion I take lightly. According to the American Psychological Association, 1 in 7 women experience symptoms for postpartum depression. But I’m not here to talk about depression, I’m here to bring attention to its sister, postpartum anxiety.
I have suffered with depression since the age of 18. I knew coming in to motherhood, re-occuring depression was a possibility, and it could raise its ugly head at any given time. What I did not expect was the significant amounts of anxiety that arrived instead.
Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety are two closely related topics and they are usually compared to the “Baby Blues”. The most common symptoms of depression and anxiety include:
- Loss of interest in doing things
- Increase/Decrease in appetite
- Scary thoughts
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Sadness, crying uncontrollably
- Fear of being alone with the baby
- Sleeping too much or sleeping less
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or baby (call for immediate help)
Many of you can relate to these symptoms and I know I certainly experienced a few on the list. But I wanted to share the thoughts that would constantly race through my mind all day, whether I was with my son or not.
“What if I waited another day to tell the doctor about Oliver. Would he even be here? I could have lost him”
“He’s sleeping past his normal time. Is he breathing? Is he okay? Should I check on him?”
“He hit his head on the dresser knob. He has a bruise. Is it a brain bleed? Should we go to ER? Does he have a concussion?”
“Am I a good mother? Do I provide enough? Do I give him enough attention?”
“What if I’m in a car accident? Will my husband and son be okay? Will I be missed?”
“My son acted out in Target. Am I a terrible mother? What if every one saw me and was worried?”
The anxiety and paranoia was so overwhelming that most days I would come home from work just sobbing to my husband. Crying because I hated my job. Crying because I was happy to be home. Crying because I was guilty for having these feelings.
The anxiety and panic attacks can be severe. All of the “What if” scenarios that I created in my head is exhausting. I knew I needed help.
With the help of local resources, I started speaking with a psychiatrist and a therapist. I opted for medication that can eliminate most of these thoughts. But the key for me is to remember, I am okay. My family is okay.
My husband and close family is a huge support system for me, and I realize not everyone is as lucky as I am. I urge you to find confidence in your spouse, closest friend, family member or a therapist. You are NOT alone. Postpartum anxiety is just as severe as Postpartum Depression. Always be an advocate for yourself when you know something is not right. Never feel ashamed to ask for help.
Below is a list for national resources and hotlines for anonymous support:
- National Center for PTSD: 800-273-8255
- Depression and Bipolar Support: 800-826-3632
- National Suicide Prevention: 800-273-TALK (8255)
- PPD Moms: 800-PPD-MOMS (800-773-6667)
Have you or a friend/family member suffered from PPD or PPA? How did you find ways to manage? I would love to hear your story – us mamas are in this together!