What is Postpartum Anxiety & How Long Does it Last?
Updated: Jan 10
Most people have at least heard of Postpartum Depression (PPD) and the baby blues. However, Postpartum Anxiety is lesser known and not talked about as frequently. However, it’s a very real thing that about 10% of women deal with after having a baby. Unfortunately, Postpartum Anxiety is often referred to as an “invisible” illness. It’s not easy to recognize the symptoms if you aren’t already aware of the condition, and many women don’t get the diagnosis they deserve that could provide them with relief.
The more you understand about Postpartum Anxiety, the easier it will be to find the right kind of treatment. Like PPD, it doesn’t have to last forever. With the right help and support, you can manage Postpartum Anxiety and move forward with your life as you bond with your baby.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at what Postpartum Anxiety really is and how long it lasts.
The PPD Connection
One of the main reasons why Postpartum Anxiety often gets misdiagnosed or goes unrecognized is that many of the symptoms overlap with Postpartum Depression. Some of those symptoms include difficulty sleeping, changes in eating habits, and irritability.
However, not all mothers who deal with Postpartum Anxiety also deal with depression. The distinction is important to recognize so you can get the right kind of help.
Some of the more common symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety include panic attacks, feelings of intense fear, and intrusive, unwanted thoughts. You might even have intense fear that you may inadvertently harm your baby. The fear of dropping ones baby is very common.
As you might expect, those thoughts can create extreme guilt, shame, and even more fear, contributing to a perpetual cycle of anxiety. You might also experience physical symptoms with Postpartum Anxiety, including trembling, a racing heart, and sweating. These symptoms typically occur when you’re having a panic attack or anxiety attack—moments when the fear feels overwhelming.
What Causes Postpartum Anxiety?
There are a variety of factors that can play into Postpartum Anxiety. Like PPD, it can occur because of sudden hormonal shifts. However, if you’re already prone to anxious thoughts or have a family history of anxiety, you might be more prone to it than other women. In those cases, real-life triggers and/or stressors can contribute to your anxiety. That could include the safety and health of your baby, relationship issues, or even your current financial situation. Unfortunately, anxiety often takes real-world situations and turns them into something unrealistic.
Some women even struggle with Postpartum Anxiety if they’ve had either complicated pregnancies in the past, or have experienced miscarriages or the loss of a child. Memories of those situations can cause extreme fear, and make it difficult to focus on anything else.
How Long Does Postpartum Anxiety Last?
Because Postpartum Anxiety still needs to be studied as much as PPD, there isn’t a completely accurate “timeline” for how long it might last. Some have suggested that it shouldn’t last more than a year, but that isn’t true for everyone. What’s more important is the fact that it will undoubtedly last longer if you try to handle it on your own. If you seek out professional help for your symptoms and anxious thoughts, you’re more likely to be able to manage those thoughts sooner.
Postpartum anxiety can keep you from bonding with your baby the way you both deserve. Don’t let it control your life and throw you into a pit of guilt. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed here or you have a history of anxiety, don’t hesitate to contact me and set up an appointment. Together, we’ll get to the root cause of your anxiety and develop strategies to help you manage it daily.
Jennifer Perera is a mom of two boys, a spouse and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is also Certified as a Perinatal Mental Health Professional by Postpartum Support International. She has a private practice in Springfield, New Jersey and also sees clients throughout New Jersey via telehealth. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual and couples counseling. She also runs workshops for new parents, teaching them techniques and strategies to help them have a stronger relationship - built to thrive during the parenthood years. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with grief or loss issues surrounding pregnancy.