Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety

Up to fifteen percent (15%) of women will develop anxiety during pregnancy or after childbirth. Health care professionals may sometimes first recommend ruling out physical problems such as hypoglycemia and hypothyroidism before diagnosing an anxiety disorder.

There are several specific disorders that are included in this category: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Signs and symptoms may include:

• Excessive worry
• Restlessness
• Fatigue
• Irritability
• Insomnia
• Hypervigilence
• Fear of being alone with her baby
• Obsessions (persistent intrusive thoughts or mental images) that are related to the baby. These obsessions are very upsetting to the mother and she is aware that they are bizarre. The mother is very unlikely to act on these bizarre thoughts. 
• Compulsions (repetitive, ritualistic behaviors that are difficult to control). A mother may engage in these behaviors to reduce fears and obsessions. 
• Physical symptoms, including: fatigue, muscle tension, chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, sweating, shaking, numbness and tingling in extremities, and/or heart palpitations
• Intrusive re-experiencing of a traumatic experience (may be a traumatic delivery) 
• Avoidance of things and situations related to a traumatic event
• Flashbacks and/or nightmares
• Feeling detached

Learn more about perinatal anxiety disorders HERE.