Postpartum Depression Support Group
of the Greater Ann Arbor Area

Information about Postpartum Anxiety Reactions

For many women, struggles during the postpartum period can be described in terms of intense anxiousness and worry rather than depression. Thoughts and behaviors are focused on “what if” scenarios and are quite distressing to the new mother. Reassurance from others often does not reduce the anxiety. Women with postpartum anxiety will sometimes express fears that they are “losing it” or “going crazy.”

Postpartum Anxiety Reaction

Postpartum Anxiety is characterized by intense worry. During the postpartum transition, some new mothers report being highly anxious and describe an inability to “quiet their mind and body.” Listed below are other possible symptoms of postpartum anxiety:

Postpartum Panic Reaction

For approximately 10% of women with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, symptoms can manifest in panic attacks. Postpartum Panic Reaction is characterized by frequent panic attacks which come on suddenly, often without an identifiable trigger, and tend to last for less than 10 minutes. Other symptoms might include:

Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Reaction

A variation of Postpartum Anxiety is Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Postpartum OCD occurs in approximately 3–5% of new mothers and includes distressing thoughts that are difficult to stop. It is important to seek medical help if these symptoms are occurring. Thoughts typically involve an obsessive fear about harm coming to the baby or self and can also include:

Sources:

  1. Postpartum Support International
  2. “Beyond the Blues—A Guide to Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression,” by Shoshana S. Bennett, Ph.D., and Pec Indman, Ed.D., MFT
  3. “Overcoming Postpartum Depression and Anxiety” by L. Sebastian
  4. “Postpartum Survival Guide” by A. Dunnewold, Ph.D. and D. Sanford, Ph.D.