Postpartum Anxiety Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Welcoming a new life into the world is a cherished moment filled with joy and hope. However, for some new mothers, this journey is accompanied by an unexpected guest: postpartum anxiety. Postpartum anxiety affects a significant number of women, often overshadowed by its more widely recognized counterpart, postpartum depression. In this article, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and available treatments for postpartum anxiety, shedding light on this often overlooked condition that can profoundly impact the lives of new mothers.


What Is Postpartum Anxiety?

Postpartum anxiety is an anxiety disorder that develops in women after giving birth. It is characterized by intense worry, fear, and nervousness that can significantly disrupt a new mother’s daily life.

While it is natural for new mothers to experience some anxiety, postpartum anxiety goes beyond typical concerns. It becomes excessive and persistent, often interfering with their ability to function and care for themselves and their baby. The condition can manifest in various ways, including constant worrying about the baby’s health and safety, obsessive thoughts, panic attacks, difficulty sleeping, and physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.

Postpartum anxiety is distinct from postpartum depression, although the two can coexist. Recognizing and addressing postpartum anxiety promptly is crucial to ensure the mother’s and her child’s well-being.

Postpartum Depression And Anxiety Causes

The exact causes of postpartum anxiety are not yet fully understood. However, several factors can contribute to the development of this condition.

  • Hormonal Changes: After giving birth, there is a significant drop in hormone levels, including estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal fluctuations can disrupt the chemical balance in the brain, potentially triggering anxiety symptoms.
  • Personal or Family History of Anxiety: Women with a pre-existing or family history of anxiety disorders may be at a higher risk of experiencing postpartum anxiety.
  • Stressful Life Events: Significant life stressors, such as a difficult pregnancy, complications during childbirth, or a lack of social support, can increase the likelihood of developing postpartum anxiety.
  • Perfectionism and High Expectations: Women with high standards for themselves, particularly in terms of motherhood and caring for their newborn, may experience increased anxiety due to the pressure to meet these expectations.
  • Sleep Deprivation: The demands of caring for a newborn, including frequent feedings and disrupted sleep patterns, can lead to sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep can exacerbate anxiety symptoms and make it challenging to cope with stress.

Postpartum anxiety is a complex condition, and a combination of these factors and others can contribute to its onset. Each woman’s experience with postpartum anxiety may vary, and it is essential to approach the condition with understanding and support.

Anxiety Fact Sheet

Anxiety Overview

Your brain and behavior are both impacted by the condition of addiction. Substance addiction makes it unable to resist the impulse to use the drug, regardless of how harmful it may be. The sooner you receive treatment for drug addiction, the better your chances are of avoiding some of the disease’s more serious side effects.


Anxiety Symptoms

Behavioral: hypervigilance, irritability, or restlessness.

Cognitive: lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or unwanted thoughts.

Whole body: fatigue or sweating.

Also common:  anxiety, excessive worry, angor animi, fear, insomnia, nausea, palpitations, or trembling.

Anxiety Treatment

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aims to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

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Anxiety Statistics

It’s critical to understand the distinction between anxiety and depression. Anxiety, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worry, whereas depression, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness. It is conceivable for someone to experience depression and anxiety simultaneously.


6.8 million

GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% receive treatment.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health

10.3 %

19 million adults experience specific phobias, making it America’s most common anxiety disorder.  

Source: ADAA2020

17.3 million

Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults, or about 7.1% of the U.S. population aged 18 and older.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health


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Postpartum anxiety can manifest in various symptoms, which may differ from person to person. It is important to note that experiencing some of these symptoms does not necessarily mean a woman has postpartum anxiety.
Postpartum anxiety can manifest in various symptoms, which may differ from person to person. It is important to note that experiencing some of these symptoms does not necessarily mean a woman has postpartum anxiety.

Postpartum Anxiety Symptoms

Postpartum anxiety can manifest in various symptoms, which may differ from person to person. It is important to note that experiencing some of these symptoms does not necessarily mean a woman has postpartum anxiety. Still, if these symptoms persist and interfere with daily functioning, it is advisable to seek professional help. Common symptoms of postpartum anxiety include:

  • Excessive Worry: Persistent and overwhelming worry or fear about the baby’s health, safety, or well-being. This may include constant concerns about the baby’s breathing, feeding, or general care.
  • Restlessness and Irritability: Feeling on edge, easily agitated, or restless. Small things that usually wouldn’t bother you can trigger irritability or anger.
  • Racing Thoughts: Having a constant stream of intrusive thoughts or a racing mind. These thoughts may be repetitive, distressing, or irrational and difficult to control or stop.
  • Physical Symptoms: Experiencing physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or headaches. These symptoms may occur even when there is no underlying medical condition.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Difficulty falling or staying asleep, even when the baby sleeps. Sleep disturbances can exacerbate anxiety symptoms and contribute to a sense of exhaustion.
  • Hyperawareness: Being overly vigilant and constantly monitoring the baby for signs of danger or distress. This hyperawareness can lead to heightened sensitivity to noises, movements, or changes in the baby’s behavior.
  • Avoidance Behaviors: Avoiding situations that may trigger anxiety, such as leaving the house, being alone with the baby, or interacting with others. These behaviors can limit social interactions and contribute to feelings of isolation.
  • Physical Discomfort: Experiencing physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, stomachaches, or sweating. These physical symptoms can be a manifestation of underlying anxiety.

Remembering postpartum anxiety symptoms can vary in intensity and duration is important. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, seeking support from healthcare professionals who can provide an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment is essential.

Postpartum Anxiety Quiz

Welcome to the Postpartum Anxiety Quiz! This quiz is a helpful tool to assess potential symptoms of postpartum anxiety. However, it is important to note that it is not a substitute for professional medical advice or an official diagnosis.

Please remember that this postpartum anxiety test is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a definitive diagnosis of postpartum anxiety. Its results should not replace consultation with qualified healthcare professionals.

*By taking this free quiz, you may obtain your results online and in your email box. You’ll have the opportunity to opt-in to learn more about your symptoms, talk to a mental health consultant and join our newsletter. Rest assured your information is private and confidential. Results, consultations and assessment are provided without any cost to you and without any obligation. If you do not wish to provide your contact information, you may omit it during your quiz. Thank you for opting in and participating. To you best of health.

Please enter your email:

1. Name:

2. Phone:

3. Do you constantly worry about your baby’s health and safety?

 
 

4. Do you experience racing thoughts that are difficult to control?

 
 

5. Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?

 
 

6. Are you easily irritated or agitated?

 
 

7. Have you had sudden episodes of intense fear or anxiety (panic attacks)?

 
 

8. Do you find it difficult to concentrate or focus?

 
 

9. Are you experiencing physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or muscle tension?

 
 

10. Do you often feel restless or unable to relax?

 
 

11. Do you actively avoid certain situations or activities due to excessive worry or fear?

 
 

12. Do you have intrusive and unwanted thoughts or images related to the baby’s safety or well-being?

 
 

How Long Does Postpartum Anxiety Last?

The duration of postpartum anxiety can vary from woman to woman. For some individuals, postpartum anxiety symptoms may be short-lived and resolve independently within a few weeks or months. However, for others, the anxiety may persist for a more extended period, potentially requiring professional intervention and treatment.

Postpartum anxiety can generally start within the first few weeks after giving birth and may continue for several months. It’s important to note that if the symptoms persist beyond the first six months postpartum or significantly interfere with daily functioning, it may be considered a more chronic condition.

Postpartum anxiety that goes untreated or persists for an extended period can significantly impact a woman’s overall well-being, as well as her ability to bond with her baby and engage in daily activities. Therefore, seeking professional help early on is crucial in addressing and managing postpartum anxiety effectively.

It’s important to remember that every individual’s experience with postpartum anxiety is unique, and the duration and severity of symptoms can vary. Consulting with healthcare professionals experienced in postpartum mental health can provide a more accurate assessment and appropriate guidance regarding the specific duration of postpartum anxiety in a particular case.

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Postpartum Anxiety Treatment

Treating postpartum anxiety typically involves a combination of approaches tailored to the individual’s needs and the severity of symptoms. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often the primary therapeutic approach for postpartum anxiety. CBT helps individuals identify and challenge negative thought patterns and develop healthier coping strategies. It may include techniques such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness, and exposure therapy.
  • Postpartum Anxiety Medication: In some cases, healthcare professionals may prescribe medication to help manage postpartum anxiety symptoms. Antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are commonly prescribed. It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider who can discuss the medication’s potential benefits and risks while considering breastfeeding, if applicable.
  • Support Groups: Participating in support groups specifically designed for postpartum women can be beneficial. Sharing experiences with others who understand and receive emotional support can help reduce feelings of isolation and provide reassurance.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Making positive lifestyle adjustments can contribute to managing postpartum anxiety. This may include prioritizing self-care, getting adequate rest and sleep, engaging in regular physical exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, and seeking help with baby care when needed.
Treating postpartum anxiety typically involves a combination of approaches tailored to the individual's needs and the severity of symptoms.
Treating postpartum anxiety typically involves a combination of approaches tailored to the individual’s needs and the severity of symptoms.

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  1. Is Zoloft For Postpartum Anxiety?

    Yes, Zoloft (generic name: sertraline) is commonly prescribed as a medication for postpartum anxiety. It is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that helps increase serotonin levels in the brain, which can improve mood and alleviate anxiety symptoms.

    Zoloft has been extensively studied and found to be effective in treating various anxiety disorders, including postpartum anxiety. It is considered one of the preferred antidepressants for breastfeeding mothers due to its relatively low transfer levels into breast milk.

Anxiety Disorder Facts & Treatment Programs That Can Help You Informative Video

Video Script

Anxiety disorders are highly prevalent in mental health, impacting many individuals. According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 31.1% of Americans have encountered some form of anxiety disorder. Although anxiety is a natural response to stress that everyone experiences, individuals with anxiety disorders consistently confront excessive, persistent, and overwhelming worries about everyday situations.

These feelings of anxiety and panic disrupt daily functioning and present significant challenges in terms of management. Furthermore, these concerns often surpass the actual threat level and continue long after the triggering event has concluded. As a result, individuals may develop avoidance behaviors, actively avoiding situations or individuals they perceive as potential triggers. Symptoms of anxiety can arise during childhood or adolescence and persist into adulthood.

Anxiety activates the body’s stress response, commonly called the fight, flight or freeze response. This innate survival mechanism rapidly mobilizes the body in emergency situations, exerting pressure on various bodily systems.

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Sources
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  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – “Mental Health – Anxiety and Depression” Link: https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm
  3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute – “Coping With Stress and Anxiety” Link: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/coping-with-stress-and-anxiety
  4. MedlinePlus – “Anxiety” Link: https://medlineplus.gov/anxiety.html
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – “Anxiety Disorders” Link: https://www.samhsa.gov/conditions/anxiety-disorders
  6. National Institute on Aging – “Anxiety Disorders in Older Adults” Link: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/anxiety-disorders-older-adults
  7. Office on Women’s Health – “Anxiety Disorders” Link: https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/anxiety-disorders
  8. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health – “Anxiety” Link: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/anxiety-at-a-glance
  9. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – “Anxiety Disorders” Link: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/anxiety.asp
  10. National Library of Medicine – “Anxiety” Link: https://medlineplus.gov/anxiety.html