Postpartum anxiety

Written by Debra Alper

Ask any new mom to recall the first few weeks of motherhood, and her memories will likely be a mix of happiness and exhaustion, joy and tears. Much has been said about postpartum depression, and many moms know to expect that the early days after childbirth tend to be draining, both physically and emotionally. But what often goes undiscussed (and therefore undiagnosed) is postpartum anxiety. Though anxiety symptoms in the postpartum period have garnered less attention than their widely known counterpart, postpartum anxiety can be distressing and debilitating to the women who endure it. And there are many women who do – some studies have found as many as 17% of women experience postpartum anxiety, including obsessive-compulsive symptoms, in the first three months after giving birth.

So what does postpartum anxiety look like? Some moms report uncontrollable worries about their baby well being, and their own ability to be a good parent. Such worries may present themselves as distressing and intrusive thoughts, or the constant feeling that something bad is going to happen. Many also report feeling keyed up, edgy, and moody, and the experience of telltale physical symptoms of anxiety such as a racing heartbeat, muscle tension, stomach upset/nausea, and trouble sleeping. Some women also report obsessions (upsetting thoughts, images and impulses which cause distress), and start engaging in compulsions (rituatlistic behaviors to rid oneself of obsessions). While a modicum of increased anxious arousal may come from a natural and even healthy instinct to protect one’s new baby, post-partum anxiety disorders occur when worries and other symptoms are counter productive, irrational, and get in the way of one’s life.

Postpartum anxiety can strike any new mom, but those who have a personal or family history of anxiety or other mental health symptoms are particularly vulnerable to developing an anxiety disorder after giving birth. Researchers explain that the tremendous hormonal shift that occurs after birth, combined with the sleep deprivation and major lifestyle changes that accompany welcoming a new baby, contribute to the development of postpartum anxiety. While some may be inclined to ignore their symptoms, hoping they will pass on their own, help should be sought when one’s worries preclude normal routine functioning, and become a constant preoccupation. Left untreated, symptoms can worsen, making bonding with a new baby more difficult and one’s own self care terribly lacking.

Fortunately, treatment for postpartum anxiety disorder is often brief and very effective. Research supports CBT, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, as a first line defense. CBT is more than just calm reassurance or positive thinking. It involves psychoeducation about how anxiety symptoms develop, as well as learning to shift one’s thinking and behaviors to reduce the frequency and intensity of anxiety symptoms. Thus, when engaging in CBT with a trained therapist, patients learn to directly address the thoughts and behaviors that are contributing to, and perpetuating their anxiety. Using these newly learned skills, patients are able to quiet their worries and return to the important task of enjoying this wonderful time in their own, and their new family’s lives.

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What Clients Say

In a recent survey of our patients, 94% would recommend our practice to a friend.
Calmer in the Face of Hardship
I came to the Center for Anxiety for help in dealing with a family member who suffered from extreme anxiety. But I ended up getting a serious illness two months later and started having my own sessions. With the help of my therapist I got through my illness, learned to understand my habits that were making my major life stresses worse, learned to communicate better, taper my anger, and surprisingly I became more calmer even though my hardships in life worsened. Therapy is a lot of work and not easy, but nothing in life comes easy! I became a better and softer mom and (when I practice what I learned) and my kids and home are calmer and happier. I am still a work in progress and have more to work on, but I know I am on the right path. I wish I knew before how my communication style and anger were really impacting my life, how being softer you can accomplish way more then being harsh. I have been to other therapists in the past and I can hands down say that the Center for Anxiety’s approach is really effective. I have even referred a bunch of people to the Center and they have been really happy with the therapists and how much they really care for their patients.
I Tackled a Long List of Fears
When I first came to the Center for Anxiety, my list of anxieties/fears was long! I was scared of getting sick, getting stranded, driving, flying and more. With the help of my therapist, I immediately got to work and tackled every one of my fears. Now the world is open to me and I feel free! I can dream big and accomplish whatever I set my mind to! I am especially grateful that I was able to do all this without having to rely on medication. It was hard work – grueling at times! – but now I have the coping tools within me for life. In fact a family member recently said to me “You are awesome. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to because you don’t let fear stop you! ” Thank you Dr. Rosmarin and the Center for Anxiety staff for helping me get here. My fears no longer limit me and I love my life. Try it, it might turn your life around too!
Highly Skilled and Professional Treatment
When I sought treatment at the Center for Anxiety, the clinic was is in its incipient stages. However, by the time I successfully finished treatment, the Center for Anxiety grew and flourished into a world-class treatment center, offering cutting-edge, evidence-based treatment to countless individuals. The continued success of the Center for Anxiety comes as no surprise to me, with a team that contains such highly skilled professionals who display clinical acumen, empathy, and compassion. When I first entered treatment I was concerned that therapy would be similar to the experiences with past psychologists: a seemingly bottomless pit with no reductions in my anxiety symptoms, but was so relieved when I started to feel less anxious after only a handful of sessions. My therapist created a treatment plan that was tailored exactly to my needs and taught me practical skills to help me work through my anxiety that I still use and practice to this very day.
No More Panic
When I first came in, I was struggling with panic disorder and didn’t even know it, which only made dealing with it that much more difficult. After my first time sitting down with my therapist, however, I instantly started to gain perspective and look at the difficult situation in a different light. Our meetings helped me conquer the issue step by step and get my life back on track. I’d strongly recommend that anyone dealing with anxiety in a way that impacts their day to day life should visit the Center for Anxiety! I know it helped me tremendously.
Free of Obsessions
When I woke up one morning last June and didn’t want to get out of bed, I knew I needed help. The thought of getting through another day with all my anxieties, obsessions and rituals was just too overwhelming. After feeling stuck for years, I just couldn’t anymore. Thankfully, that’s when I found the Center for Anxiety. Dr. Rosmarin and his staff are experts at what they do, kind and professional. After just several weeks I accomplished my initial targets. The change I experienced in such a short amount of time was astounding that I stayed on for a while longer to work on more complex goals. I soon achieved those too. Now, I am free of my obsessions, know how to manage my anxiety, and love my life. My only regret: not having done this sooner. I wish I had known that you don’t have to wait to hit rock bottom to get help.
Depression Lifted
I’m 26 years old and I’ve been suffering from terrible depression for 7 years. In the throws of my sadness I literally wanted to die. Soon after starting therapy at the Center for Anxiety, my depression lifted. My suicidal thoughts began to dissipate. I remember the feeling that came over me as soon as the dark cloud above me left. It was the most liberating feeling I have ever experienced. I actually shouted to my friends, family and anyone nearby me “I’m Happy! I am Happy!” I felt free.
Over the course of four years I developed anxiety-like symptoms (tightness in chest, gut, back) that slowly but surely increased in duration and severity. The EXTREMELY uncomfortable nature of the symptoms notwithstanding, I still continued and managed to function. The effort required to do so, however, left me utterly drained. Having always been a very spiritual person I strongly felt that a course of therapy incorporating a spiritual component could potentially work well for me and decided to give the Center for Anxiety a try. Happily, I have achieved significant symptom reduction, tremendously improved emotional/mental health, and above all, Connection. Medication free. I’m no longer just existing, I’m LIVING. I’ve been given a second chance to become the unique human being that I was meant to be.
No More worries
I have wormed in healthcare for 36 years in many different settings, and I have been overwhelmingly satisfied with the Center for Anxiety. When staff says they are going to call, I get a call. From the first contact, I have been very impressed with the professionalism and efficiency. I had a situation and needed to have sessions more than once per week, and my clinicians worked out a schedule to accommodate my needs. I was astounded that they attended to me so quickly and effectively - they made my priority their priority. My clinicians were also excellent at what they do - they have a plan for me each session, and it's clear that they have thought in advance about each session, and that they are listening to what I say and observing what I do, even though our sessions have been conducted via Telehealth. Compassion is a quality that I have all too often found to be lacking in my experiences as a healthcare professional and patient, and this is not the case with the Center for Anxiety. Of all the websites I found on Google, I am so thankful that God guided my hand to yours.

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