Help for Evanston Moms with Postpartum Anxiety
You’ve heard of postpartum depression. Your OB checked in with you and screened you for depression throughout your pregnancy and after delivery. But have you heard of postpartum anxiety? Many women experience it. They feel lonely as they deal with their racing and self-labeled irrational thoughts. “No one else must be feeling this,” they say to themselves, “it’s not talked about.”
Have you ever felt your thoughts about your child or being a mother were so horrible that you hesitate to reveal them to anyone else? Have you had intrusive, intense thoughts spike when you are alone with your baby or at night? Thoughts that run without stopping in your mind…. Someone will break into your home and steal your baby. You know that you must have a deadly disease and will leave your child motherless. You think you are so careless, that you will somehow allow your infant to drown during a bath.
You prefer to stay home. Going out into public has too many variables that you cannot control. Will someone take your cart with your baby in it at the grocery store? Will you have a massive, fatal car accident on the way to the park?
You wake up in the middle of the night clutching your chest, barely able to breathe. The nightmares leave you battling insomnia for another night.
If these scenarios seem familiar to you, you might be experiencing postpartum anxiety.
Please hear us when we say that you are not alone. 10 to 15% of new moms experience postpartum anxiety. We are here to help. Are you in the Evanston or greater Chicagoland area? As postpartum therapists, we are well-acquainted with what you are feeling. We have journeyed with other moms like you through this season and aided them in living with greater peace.
Friends and family may dismiss what you are feeling. They may just chalk it up to new parent fears. Let’s take a deeper look, so you will have a better idea of what to do about what you are feeling.
How do I know if it is postpartum anxiety or if I’m just fatigued and not thinking well?
It is true that most parents of a newborn worry. Mom anxiety can be fierce! Yet, with postpartum anxiety, your thoughts are likely more constant and intense. Another thing that sets postpartum anxiety apart is that your thoughts are not based on reality. A good question to ask might be, “Is this a real problem or threat?”
As postpartum therapists, we associate certain types of thoughts with postpartum anxiety. You are plagued by the “what if” thoughts like the scenarios we mentioned above. You feel held back by all of your fears and cannot live the life you desire. Your thoughts race constantly, and you feel as if you are always on edge. You live with worry and panic as consistent companions. You would prefer to have someone else with you and do not want to be alone with your child.
Physically, you might be short of breath, breathe rapidly, have stomach pain, nausea, dizziness, chills, or headaches. Sleeping is likely to be a struggle. You can’t fall asleep, and when you finally do, you cannot stay asleep. Your muscles may twitch or be tense. You might have lost the desire to eat.
With postpartum anxiety a woman loses her sense of “balance and calm.” A “loss of heart,” in her opinion, better identifies what happens when a woman experiences postpartum depression. When a woman loses heart, she can only see a future where she is a “bad mother,” has hardship in her life, or has given up on her desire for mothering.
How did I get here and what is causing this?
If you feel you have postpartum anxiety, it is not your fault. There is no reason for shame.
Have you dealt with anxiety or depression before having your child? Have you ever had an eating disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder? Do you have difficult PMS symptoms? Before the delivery of your child, did you have a miscarriage or stillbirth? As the mom of an infant, you are likely sleep-deprived. Lack of sleep can contribute to anxiety. During your pregnancy, did you have a breakup or get a divorce? You might be feeling pressure to have the Insta-perfect mom life. If your little one was born prematurely or if they had health challenges at birth, this could add stress to your life.
All of these life stressors add up, and anxiety can follow.
When will I feel better and how do I get there?
Many think that postpartum anxiety magically disappears around the child’s first birthday. Unfortunately, there is no set amount of time that postpartum anxiety lasts. Yet, we do know that if you don’t seek treatment, your symptoms are likely to worsen.
The good news is that there are many things that you can do on your own and with your healthcare team to feel better. The most important thing to do is to recognize your symptoms and to seek help.
Your doctor will most likely suggest you reach out to someone like us, counselors for moms. One of our forms of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, works especially well in helping you to curb anxiety. We will work together to reframe your behavior and thinking patterns. Over time as you construct different ways of thinking and behaving, you will see your anxiety lessen.
Your doctor may also prescribe medication. There are medications which you can take while nursing, if you are breastfeeding your child.
Are you a mom who lives in the Evanston or Chicagoland area? Please reach out to us. We would be honored to walk this path with you.
We provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Relationship Therapy, and Hypnotherapy, for women in Evanston and Chicago IL, virtually and in person. We help women who feel isolated, anxious, and overwhelmed in their lives to find more happiness, satisfaction, and self-acceptance. We journey with moms to help them manage their anxiety and depression, so they can create loving, strong, healthy attachments with their children.
There is hope.