If you've ever experienced anxiety, then you know that it isn't a pleasant feeling. Between the negative thoughts, racing heartbeat, nausea, stomach pain, and the desire to avoid certain people or situations, it can quickly consume you. Experiencing anxiety after having a baby is a whole other story- especially if you've had anxiety prior to becoming pregnant. Postpartum anxiety can overtake your mind. making even the slightest thing seem like the end of the world. So, how do you know when the incessant worrying leans more towards postpartum anxiety? There are some key differences between that and normal worrying that will help you understand and differentiate the two.
As a new mom, it's very normal to worry about your baby, especially if it's your first. It's very natural, and even good to worry because it's nature's way of making sure you care for that baby. But when postpartum anxiety hits, it's more than just wondering if they need to see a doctor or checking on them a few times a night to make sure they're okay. Anxiety Canada states that, "anxiety is a natural, adaptive response we experience when we feel unsafe or threatened." However, this response can go into hyper-drive.
When you have postpartum anxiety, your entire existence become enveloped in worry. You have difficulty sleeping because you're worried your baby will stop breathing (You just checked 20 minutes ago but you will regret not checking again. You'll hate yourself if you don't check and something does happen, you know.). You're worried that the house will catch fire (Did you unplug the toaster? Are you sure? Go check again.). You could even worry over someone breaking in and kidnapping your baby (Did you lock the door? The windows? Do you have something you can use as a weapon handy?). It becomes so obsessive that you're only capable of imagining the worst- even though you know the chances of anything bad happening are slim to none.
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Postpartum anxiety can often get so extreme that you feel it physically, and it doesn't always need to be triggered by your baby. Something as little as confrontation on social media with a total stranger can often leave you feeling nauseous with heart palpitations. According to Anxiety Canada, "for some women, anxiety can start to build gradually and interfere with her ability to enjoy and take care of her new baby- and herself." The bottom line is that postpartum anxiety is real- and it affects more people than you might think.
Just remember that no two women are the same, so postpartum anxiety to you can look and feel a lot different than postpartum anxiety in someone else. Something else to keep in mind is that doctors can often misdiagnose it as postpartum depression. Some people experience insomnia from the racing thoughts while others feel it more physically than mentally. It's an all-consuming mental illness.
If you feel like you're constantly obsessing and worrying about things that you probably shouldn't be- and it's to the point that it's interfering with your life- speak with your doctor about some options to help. After all, getting help for your postpartum anxiety will benefit your baby because you'll be able to better care for them.