Postnatal Anxiety

One in 5 women will suffer anxiety in the year following childbirth. Nearly one in three women will suffer anxiety in their lifetime. Anxiety disorders are up to twice as common in women as in men. So the likelihood is high

Symptoms of Postnatal Anxiety:

  • Feelings of fear & worry which begin to ‘take over’
  • Feeling irritable, restless, tense or constantly ‘on edge’
  • Racing heart/strong palpitations – sometimes panic attacks
  • Re-occurring worrying thoughts (such as they are not doing things right and/or that something terrible will happen)
  • Unable to sleep – even when you have the opportunity
  • Avoiding situations for fear something bad will happen.

Anxiety can be insidious in that we all worry. However, if your worry fits the criteria above, and/or it is getting in the way of everyday activities, it may be a good time to seek professional assistance.

Anxiety comes in many forms. The Centre for Perinatal Excellence (COPE) has an excellent list which provides more information. This includes Generalised Anxiety Disorder (can worry about almost anything and worries tend to move around from one to another), Panic disorder, Social Phobia, Specific Phobia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Postnatal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Postnatal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is diagnosed in 1-3% of postnatal women. It typically involves scary obsessions of harm coming to the baby which is distressing to the parent. The fear of harm may be related to  external sources or fears that the individual themselves may harm their child. When these fears are distressing to the individual there is generally very little risk of actual harm. However, such obsessions can lead the individual to avoid the baby or to engage in compulsive behaviours (such as washing hands or checking). OCD requires external support from skilled professionals.

Scary thoughts

Although Postnatal OCD is uncommon, it should be noted that intrusive scary thoughts about harm coming to your baby are present in 96% of postnatal women and more than 66% of postpartum men. These thoughts again may be fears of external risks or of the individual causing the baby harm. Where these thoughts are upsetting to the individual there is no risk of harm to the baby. These thoughts are very common products of brains which are focused on their child's safety.

If you have any concerns about how you are feeling or thinking, make a time to consult with us. Unfortunately not all professionals have particular training in this area, so it is important to seek assistance from someone who has experience in working with mental health in the perinatal period. Contact us on 8210 9443, book online or send us an email.