Monday, 10 February 2014

Understanding Postpartum Anxiety

Postpartum Anxiety is a condition that affects women after having given birth. The syndrome is similar to PPD (Postpartum Depression) in that it is a direct result of the fluctuating hormones, but present in different ways and with different symptoms. Where as a woman with PPD will experience listlessness and almost paralyzing sadness, a woman with Postpartum Anxiety will experience panic, rapid pulse, anger, paranoia and in some cases headaches and restlessness. 

In many cases both conditions, postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety present together with the patient experiencing moments of deep sadness followed by moments of terror and anxiety with a feeling of impending doom. Because so little focus has been placed on anxiety disorders that affect women postpartum, in many cases physicians mistakenly consider anxiety symptoms as  a part of PPD. This is a mistake, as the treatment for depression will do nothing to alleviate feelings of deep anxiety and fear experienced by women with postpartum anxiety.

Because depression is treated with medications that act as 'uppers', the affect on an already anxious person can be catastrophic with the medications leading to more severe symptoms and a higher anxiety level. Anxiety medications on the other hand act as downers, relaxing and numbing the individual to help minimize stress  and help the new mother relax in her surroundings. Because of the major differences in the conditions educating medical professionals on the differences and dangers of misdiagnosing Postpartum Anxiety is very important.

Education is also important for mothers to be being aware of the symptoms related to anxiety disorders is the first step to getting help. Although most people have heard of and are cautioned by their physicians about PPD, no mention is made of postpartum anxiety. This leads to many women suffering needlessly, some even suffering debilitating panic attacks and being unable to sleep due to the intensity of the anxiety. Because their doctors see them as being upbeat and not depressed they receive no treatment and no relief.

On the other hand, if the problem is diagnosed correctly, proper medication can be used to completely alleviate the symptoms of the condition. This can be done using a low dose of anti-anxiety medication daily. Amazingly, treatment tends to be much easier for many women than finding the diagnosis.

Postpartum Anxiety, the forgotten sibling of Postpartum Depression, is a serious and debilitating disorder that affects mothers soon after giving birth. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking help is the first step to alleviating the symptoms of this exhausting condition.

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