What is Postpartum Depression and Anxiety?

What is Postpartum Depression and Anxiety?

Beyond physical changes, coming home with a new baby is a bigadjustment and experiencing a wide range of emotions is to be expected
For a woman, the postpartum period begins after childbirth and is also known as the fourthtrimester. During this time the body undergoes a lot of change as it returns to a state of notbeing pregnant. Beyond physical changes, coming home with a new baby is a bigadjustment and experiencing a wide range of emotions is to be expected. Feelings ofgratitude and happiness are often mixed with feelings of worry and tiredness. Changes inemotions and sleep habits can affect your overall mood and wellness. It will take time toestablish a new normal during the postpartum period, and this is completely normal. Duringthis time, many women experience mental health difficulties such as postpartum depressionand anxietyRisk factors for postpartum depression and anxiety can be biological, psychological, orsocial. Biological, psychological, and social risk factors intersect differently for each person,making everyone’s experience unique. Being knowledgeable about the risk for postpartummental health difficulties is empowering as it can contribute to early identification ofdisorders. Biological risk factors include, but are not limited to, poor nutrition, vitamindeficiencies, food insecurity, hormonal and body changes, genetic predisposition to illness,and adverse childhood experiences. Psychological risk factors include, but are not limited to,anxiety and mood changes, self-esteem issues, lack of emotional support, negativestressors, and transgenerational trauma. Social and cultural factors include, but are notlimited to, lower socioeconomic status, discrimination, experiencing microaggressions, racialdisparities, intimate partner violence, and limited access to insurance or quality healthcare.Postpartum depression is a type of depression that is experienced following childbirth. 1 in 7women experience postpartum depression and for half of women diagnosed it is their firsttime having a depressive episode. Symptoms of postpartum depression may begin beforebirth in the form of perinatal depression. Symptoms of perinatal and postpartum depressioninclude sadness, frequent crying, fatigue, low energy, change in appetite, change in sleephabits, mood swings, difficulty making decisions, trouble connecting with your baby, anddisinterest in your baby, family, or friends. These symptoms may be heightened if you areexposed to a stressor, you are in isolation, you have a baby whose sleep and hunger needsare irregular, you have a baby with health challenges, or it is your first time having a baby.Postpartum anxiety is heightened anxiety that is experienced following childbirth. Onedifference between the prognosis of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety is thatpostpartum anxiety is not homogenous. There are many different forms such as postpartumobsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder, and postpartumpanic disorder. General symptoms of postpartum anxiety include feeling tense, feeling dread,not being able to relax, thinking of worst case scenarios, having trouble remembering things,doubting your ability to be a good parent, avoiding leaving the house, having panic attacks,feeling that something bad is going to happen, and dizziness, sweating, or shaking.
If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety, you are not alone!Remind yourself that postpartum mental illness is treatable. It is important to talk openlyabout your feelings with loved ones and seek help from a registered psychotherapist orpsychologist as needed. Overall, avoid putting pressure on yourself, give yourself grace, andbe realistic about what you can accomplish while taking care of a newborn and yourself afterbirth. Once you choose, hope anything is possible (Christopher Reeve).


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