If you took a poll of most pregnant women that come into our office, majority will report that they have heard about Baby Blues or Post Partum Depression (PPD) before, either from their pregnancy books, friends, or hopefully their OB.  Many will adamantly deny that they have Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression, because after all, this is supposed to be the happiest, most exciting time of their lives.  What many women don’t realize is that Perinatal Anxiety is just as common as PPD, and often coincides with each other as the symptoms are similar.

Perinatal Anxiety Defined

Perinatal anxiety is often dismissed,  as pregnancy and parenting both are anxiety provoking in and of themselves, so it’s reasonable that women struggle with increased anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum.  Because of this, very little research is done on perinatal anxiety independently from postpartum depression.

Perinatal anxiety can be classified into three different types: panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders and/or generalized anxiety disorders.   It shares many of the same symptoms of PPD, such as: feeling overwhelmed, trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, feelings of guilt or incompetence, excessive worry, etc.  Perinatal anxiety can also include panic attacks, hyperventilation, and repetitive intrusive thoughts or images of things happening to the baby.

The Anxiety of Facing the Unknown

New parents are always facing the unknown, and have repetitive worry and thoughts/concerns, such as: “Is my baby healthy?” “Is my baby normal; is he or she developing appropriately?”   These are all common concerns and questions to think and wonder about.  It becomes concerning when parents ruminate about these concerns, and they become intrusive or debilitating to a point that they interfere with your ability to care for the child, your relationship with the child or each other, sleep, or your health.

More significant cases of anxiety can trigger obsessional thoughts of actions happening to the baby, such as: the baby dying, dropping the baby, losing the control around the baby, etc.  These thoughts are obviously very scary, and parents struggling with anxiety may fear that they will act on these thoughts even if they have

Postpartum Treatment – Support for Perinatal Anxiety

There are slow improvements on the research being done on perinatal anxiety.   Different than PPD, there are no standardized screening tools for perinatal anxiety.   It is a subjective diagnosis based off of symptoms and progression throughout the pregnancy/postpartum period.   Lack of research as well as lack of screening, can make it difficult to treat.  Generalized anxiety is often treated both with medication and psychotherapy.

In regards to medication, it is important when seeking treatment for anxiety during the perinatal journey, to reach out to mental health providers that specialize in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders.

Psychotherapy, specifically Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is also a common treatment for anxiety.   Unfortunately due to all of the emotional and physical changes that occur to women throughout the perinatal journey, it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of CBT.  But the goal is that therapy will help identify both the triggers as well as strategies to change the patient’s thinking and behavior that contributes to the increased anxiety and intrusive thoughts.

If you’re postpartum anxiety is getting in the way of everyday life and the joy of parenting your newborn, contact The Blossom Method. Our team of grief and loss counselors are experienced in providing support for pregnancy and infant issues.