Postpartum Anxiety

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In the course of pregnancy, the body of the woman undergoes a lot of changes. Hormones are so strong and all of a sudden, the baby is delivered. At some point in the postpartum stage, four to six percent of women experiences what is popularly known as baby blues or also known as postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety or panic disorder in medical terms. These disorders occur separately and also in combination with one another because of hormonal and neurotransmitter level changes throughout pregnancy.

Women who have had a history of panic attacks have a greater possibility of developing postpartum disorder and also those with a family history of both anxiety and or panic disorders. Another usual cause of postpartum anxiety is a great amount of stress. It is natural for new mothers to worry about their newborn together with their responsibilities. However, women who are greatly affected by postpartum anxiety and/or panic disorder go through excessive fears and worries about their children, and their own actions. Postpartum mood disorder can also cause women to suffer from devastating panic attacks, overwhelming anxiety, and perhaps agoraphobia which is an abnormal fear of public and open spaces.

Experiencing panic attacks can be frightening since it can occur any time without even a single warning. A lot of women feel nervous and tense because they fear that it is going to happen again. Women who suffer from postpartum anxiety disorder are inclined to show the following behavior:

1. Trouble concentrating and remembering things
2. Difficulties finishing everyday tasks
3. Trouble making decisions
4. Difficulty relaxing
5. Insomnia
6. Exhaustion
7. Feelings of extreme uneasiness for prolonged periods of time
8. Loss of appetite
9. Possible suicidal thoughts
10. Anxiety/panic attacks

Diagnosis has been made by psychotherapists that the presence of at least four of the following symptoms will be exhibited during a panic attack as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

1. Shortness of breath
2. Feeling of being choked or smothered
3. Chest pain or discomfort
4. Heart palpitations or increased heart rate
5. Hot flashes or chills
6. Sweating
7. Trembling or shaking
8. Tingling sensation
9. Lightheadedness
10. Nausea or stomach upset
11. Depersonalization- disoriented from the world
12. Fear of going crazy

Postpartum anxiety happens when delusions and hallucinations are exhibited. This is unusual but it can happen specifically to women who were already bipolar or schizophrenic. This is considered to be an urgent situation and assistance should be sought quickly. This is for the safety of the baby and the woman as well. Common treatments for postpartum anxiety and panic disorder are anti-depressant/anti-anxiety and/or anti-psychotic drugs in conjunction with psychotherapy. The combination has been proven to be more effective than any other type of intervention alone. Anti-anxiety medications like Ativan, Xanax, or Valium are very helpful in panic situations and it also treat the symptoms quickly unlike the anti-depressants like SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors which takes up to 3-4 weeks to treat the disorder. Psychotherapy can definitely help women recognize the triggers of panic and anxiety and how to defeat the uneasy symptoms through relaxation, deep breathing, bio-feedback, etc. Luckily, postpartum anxiety does not remain forever. section.


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