It is extremely common for women to experience symptoms of postpartum anxiety both during and after pregnancy. In fact, during this transition period, more women are affected by anxiety than depression.
While it is normal to feel some form of apprehension concerning motherhood, women suffering from postpartum anxiety will experience such intense fears and concerns that their everyday living will be disturbed in a great way.
Anxiety is a normal human emotion that plays a vital role in our survival--particularly in dangerous situations. When we sense a threat, our bodies release large amounts of adrenaline, and our heart and breathing rates increase. These physiological changes prepare our bodies to either fight or take flight from the danger. However, people who suffer from anxiety experience these changes even when there is no actual threat present. Or they will respond out of proportion to the proposed threat.
Postpartum anxiety results from a variety of triggers, such as a decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels, sleep deprivation, changes in relationships, new schedules, new responsibilities, and round-the-clock care of a newborn. In addition, society gives us the impression that this should be one of the happiest times in a woman’s life and that every woman should instinctively know what to do. Of course, this is not reality, and it’s no wonder that so many mothers feel as though they are falling apart.
Any new mom can develop postpartum anxiety. However, those who are most vulnerable are women with a personal or family history of anxiety, women who have experienced depression, women with extreme PMS symptoms, women with eating disorders or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Also, women who have had a previous miscarriage or stillbirth will be more susceptible to postpartum anxiety after later having a smooth delivery and healthy baby. Due to their previous trauma, these women will be so worried that something else might go wrong that they get lost in trying to prevent something bad from happening--even when there is no threat present.
If you are having frequent feelings of intense worry or panic, you may be experiencing postpartum anxiety. Anxiety symptoms typically appear within the first two to three weeks after childbirth. However, it can take a while longer for the anxiety to reach distressing levels.
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