A catch-all term referring to any form of anxiety in the postpartum period (i.e. within a year after the birth of the baby), postpartum anxiety can include panic attacks, Generalized Anxiety (GAD), post-traumatic stress (PTSD), OCD or phobias.
Women with PPA may also notice the following symptoms:
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is typically the treatment of choice for PPA. With time, support and help, PPA will improve.
A subtype of OCD and PPA, postpartum OCD can first appear during pregnancy or the postpartum period. Many mothers suffer in silence as obsessions and compulsions are often experienced as embarrassing or shameful. Also, there is incredible social pressure on women to experience childbirth and motherhood as the happiest time of their lives. An experience that does not jive with these social expectations is often kept secret.
Obsessions are often experienced as disturbing visual images that “flash” into a woman’s mind, seemingly randomly and without warning. These typically include images of the baby being harmed in various ways. Women with OCD are horrified at having these thoughts and may wonder if having them makes them a bad or dangerous. Postpartum OCD is a distinctly different condition than Postpartum Psychosis. In postpartum psychosis, the woman has lost touch with reality and may be in danger of harming the infant due to delusions, or faulty beliefs, about the baby. In contrast, women experiencing postpartum OCD alone have not lost contact with reality.
“These kinds of obsessions are particularly unwanted and people with them would never want to act on them. Having them DOES NOT mean you are crazy, dangerous, or evil deep down inside!”—Anxiety BC
Compulsions, or rituals, in the postpartum period can include:
Postpartum anxiety is an enormous burden at an already hectic time of one’s life. If you would like to be free of your symptoms and suffering, contact me today to find out how I can help.
A variety of strategies for navigating the postpartum period.
When we are in the throws of anxiety, we want immediate relief. How can there be a silver lining in all of this?
A best-selling self-help workbook using the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy to help with generalized anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, social anxiety and other anxiety-related conditions.
The author honours the experience of new motherhood and the need for nurturance and care for the mother at a time when all attention is on baby. Combines women’s comments, resources and practical strategies in the text.
This gentle guidebook, published by the Pacific Postpartum Support Society, offers encouragement, support and helpful advice to mothers experiencing postpartum mood changes. Recommended.
Three Saskatchewan women tell their personal stories of postpartum depression including postpartum psychosis. The authors also have their own website, which includes postpartum resources.
This book is jam-packed with information on perinatal depression. While informative, it may be overwhelming to read if depressed.
Updated version published June, 2006. Clear, concise information about perinatal mood changes and anxiety. Intended for laypeople and professionals.
Actress Brooke Shield’s intimate recounting of her experience through postpartum depression and back.
A resource list of lower-cost professional counselling options in Vancouver. Corrections and suggestions welcome.
For help in locating a family doctor in BC.
604-675-3700 – Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre, Vancouver Hospital, Level 1, East Entrance
24/7 phone, walk-in and outreach support for urgent, non life-threatening mental health and addictions issues.
Telephone support, support groups, partner support and resources for those suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety.
604-873-0103 – Support groups, education, info and referral to people living with depression or bipolar disorder and their supporters. The MDA also has a counselling clinic.