How to Manage Postpartum Anxiety and Postpartum Depression

Postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression are common conditions that occur after a woman delivers. Although postpartum anxiety occurs in 1 of 5 women, scientists have not studied it as much as postpartum depression.

Despite this, knowing the difference between the two conditions is vital for diagnosis and treatment. Treatment given for postpartum depression, such as Bupropion, might not be effective when treating anxiety.

Postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression

Decreasing hormone levels after delivery can cause postpartum depression or baby blues. It can make a new mother feel sad and overwhelmed. It typically only lasts for a few weeks. When it does persist, it could be a sign of another issue.

Hormonal changes after delivery can also cause postpartum anxiety. However, other factors can put a mother at a higher risk for the condition. These include a previous miscarriage,  a history of anxiety even before pregnancy, the baby’s health or finances. It can also occur during weaning a child from breastfeeding, which alters hormone levels.

Although postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are different conditions, they might share symptoms like poor sleep and irritability. Symptoms of anxiety are not uncommon in women with postpartum depression.

Panic attacks and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD) are common during the postpartum period. OCD could come with compulsion and negative thoughts such as harming the baby. Thoughts of harming the baby are not as likely in women with anxiety.

Treating postpartum anxiety

Doctors can treat postpartum anxiety through cognitive behavioural therapy, which could help a mother deal with negative thoughts. Physicians usually give medication in conjunction with behavioural therapy. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are the preferred medication for treating postpartum anxiety. Benzodiazepines are given along with SSRIs.

There are also measures a mother can take to manage her anxiety. One simple measure is cuddling with the baby, which releases oxytocin that reduces anxiety. Another is to ensure you get a minimum of 4 hours of undisrupted sleep. You could also try spending time with other mothers. You will find that most mothers have the same experiences as you, which will alleviate your fears whilst giving you healthy coping strategies.

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