How Can Post-Partum Depression Increase Anxiety?

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Post-partum depression is triggered by the flood of hormones in a woman’s body after she has a baby. This mental disorder can increase the anxiety already present because of the added physical stress on the body, chemical imbalances in the brain, and the additional responsibility of taking care of another entirely dependent person.

In this article, we will review if post-partum hormones can trigger anxiety, how long post-partum anxiety typically lasts, and what kind of treatments are available for post-partum depression that is mixed with anxiety. 

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Can Post-Partum Trigger Anxiety?

If you have never experienced clinical anxiety before and suddenly have an onslaught of panic attacks, trouble focusing, or other common anxiety symptoms, you are not alone. Plenty of women experience anxiety after they have a baby because of the flood of hormones triggered by the brain when the baby is born and after the body goes through labor.

However, the hormone surge doesn’t stop because the baby is no longer inside the woman’s body. It typically takes a full year for a woman to recover from pregnancy and childbirth, including her mental recovery. 

Post-partum anxiety is common and is especially something to look out for if you are also diagnosed with post-partum depression. A healthy dose of normal anxiety is understandable given the responsibility of caring for a baby. However, a chemical imbalance can cause anxiety symptoms that impair everyday function. 

How Long Can Post-Partum Anxiety Last?

It’s difficult to put a timeframe on post-partum anxiety since everyone’s experience is different. Most women don’t start to experience post-partum anxiety until their baby is about four to six weeks old. The anxiety can last from months to years, depending on the severity and whether or not the mother is seeking treatment.

In some instances, especially those for which no treatment is given, post-partum anxiety can last for years or even a lifetime. Post-partum anxiety and depression are also not strictly confined to the time period immediately after you give birth. 

Studies have shown that it is not unusual for women to experience peri-natal depressive and anxiety episodes during pregnancy, increasing the likelihood of being diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety. However, other cases have indicated that post-partum depression and anxiety don’t manifest until one, two, or even four years after childbirth. 

How Do You Treat Post-Partum Depression Coupled with Anxiety?

Post-partum depression and anxiety can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re in the thick of it. However, there are treatment options that can help. Therapy and prescription medications such as SSRIs are the most common and effective treatment methods.

Other solutions that can help ease the symptoms of post-partum anxiety include getting back into a regular exercise routine, asking for help around the house, scheduling time away from the baby, and finding ways to get adequate sleep. 

Post-partum and anxiety can run your life and impact everything you do, but you don’t have to let it.  

Conclusion 

Post-partum anxiety usually goes hand in hand with post-partum depression, even if a new mother has never experienced either mental health disorder before. They are typically triggered by the flood of hormones and intense psychological and physical stress accompanying pregnancy and childbirth.

If left untreated, post-partum anxiety could last for years. However, with treatment such as prescription medication and therapy, post-partum anxiety can be manageable and eventually go away. While post-partum anxiety can leave you exhausted from lack of sleep, constricted by panic attacks, and plagued by unfounded worries and fears, it doesn’t have to last forever. 

References

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/postpartum-anxiety-an-invisible-disorder-that-can-affect-new-mothers-202107302558

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22693-postpartum-anxiety

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