Did you know that approximately 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety? Sometimes they experience anxiety by itself, and sometimes it’s in addition to depression.
The reported rate of clinical postpartum depression for new mothers is between 10-20%, and it’s believed the numbers are actually higher than these statistics reveal. Women of every culture, age, income level and race can develop perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Symptoms can appear any time during pregnancy and for the first 12 months after childbirth.
But there’s much reason for hope. With informed care you can prevent these symptoms from worsening and can fully recover. There’s no reason to continue suffering alone. We’re here to help.
Approximately 80% of new mothers experience “the baby blues,” which can include mood swings and weepiness. This lasts for approximately 2-3 weeks after birth and is considered a normal adjustment to being a new mother. These “blues” are resolved without medical assistance.
Postpartum depression is more severe, intense and/or long-lasting than common “baby blues.” Symptoms can begin anytime during pregnancy or the first year postpartum. They differ for everyone and can include the following:
- Feelings of anger or irritability
- Lack of interest in your baby
- Appetite and sleep disturbance
- Crying and sadness
- Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
- Loss of interest, joy or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
- Possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
It’s important to know the risk factors for antepartum and postpartum depression. Research has shown that the following could put you at a higher risk for developing these illnesses:
- A personal or family history of depression, anxiety or postpartum depression
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD or PMS)
- Inadequate support in caring for your baby
- Financial stress
- Marital stress
- Complications in pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
- A major recent life event: death of a family member or friend, house move, job loss, etc.
- Mothers of multiples
- Mothers whose infants are in Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)
- Mothers who’ve gone through infertility treatments
- Women with a thyroid imbalance
- Women with any form of diabetes (type 1, type 2 or gestational)
If you have any of these factors, discuss them with your medical provider so you can plan ahead for care should you need it.
The symptoms of anxiety during pregnancy or postpartum might include:
- Constant worry
- Feeling that something bad is going to happen
- Racing thoughts
- Disturbances of sleep and appetite
- Inability to sit still
- Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes and nausea
Risk factors for perinatal anxiety and panic include a personal or family history of anxiety, previous perinatal depression or anxiety, or thyroid imbalance.
What are your next steps?
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms discussed above, please reach out as soon as you can to talk with supportive and informed people. Reaching out to someone is the most important step you can take for yourself and your family. If you need immediate help, please contact the national emergency service listed below. They are available 24/7. It’s very important to reach out and find the support and information you need to be safe.
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline and Website
Free and confidential. Call for yourself or for someone you care about. They have a network of more than 140 crisis centers nationwide.
Always remember to take care of yourself, in order to care of your family. Try some of these self-care tips:
- Put on make-up or do your hair
- Change your clothes
- Give yourself a pep talk
- Keep a journal
Postpartum depression and anxiety are serious – but they can be overcome. You are strong and have so many reasons for happy and hope-filled times ahead!
Nicole McCoy RN, BSN is the prenatal, neonatal and pediatric care coordinator for Health Alliance. Nicole has been a nurse for 10 years and has extensive experience working with mothers, babies and families. She provides new mothers and moms-to-be with expertise and support for their physical and mental well-being. Nicole works with our members over the phone, and also in person for those who live in the Champaign-Urbana area. If you are interested in setting up Care Coordination with Nicole, call (800) 851-3379, ext. 28947, or email Care.Coordination@healthalliance.org.