What You Need to Know About Postpartum Anxiety and How to Treat It

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If you're a new mother, chances are you're feeling a little scared, stressed out, and anxious (in addition to being very, very tired). Those first few postpartum weeks are daunting for everyone, but there is a difference between those normal, new mom feelings and dealing with postpartum anxiety. While we've all heard of postpartum depression and the many celebrities who have been open about their struggles with it — Chrissy Teigen, Brooke Shields, and Gwyneth Paltrow, to name a few — a recent study concludes that postpartum anxiety affects a larger percentage of new moms than you might realize.

Dr. Jennifer Gentile, PsyD., a psychologist who treats patients virtually via a telehealth app, spoke to POPSUGAR about postpartum emotional challenges, which affect over 60 percent of new moms. "There is not a formal diagnosis for postpartum anxiety, but there is definitely anxiety that occurs in the postpartum period," Dr. Gentile said. "On average, 16 percent of new moms experience anxiety during the postpartum period, which is a particularly challenging time for mothers who are used to having control over their lives. Your life gets turned upside down."

What Are the Signs?

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It's normal for a mom to stress a little. We have a tiny creature to keep alive, after all. But when does it become too much? Dr. Gentile said you should take notice when "a new mom expresses concern about things that, from an outsider's perspective, don't seem like a big deal. For example, worrying that a medication prescribed by your pediatrician might give your child cancer — fears or worries that are out of bounds," she explained.

When Should You Seek Help?

Ask for help when it's interfering with your ability to take care of your baby or affecting your ability to take on daily tasks or even carry on a relationship with your significant other. "Think about seeking help when it's causing some sort of functional impairment," Dr. Gentile said, adding it can even lead to PPD or result in the development of OCD if it goes untreated.

What Treatment Methods Are Available?

Dr. Gentile strongly recommends cognitive behavioral therapy. "The most evidence-based treatment for anxiety in any population is cognitive behavioral therapy," she said. "You want to work with the mom and her attachment to her baby. Once she feels more secure in her attachment, she's likely to calm down a bit."

If therapy is not quite cutting it, medication might be an option, even for nursing mothers. "There are some choices for anxiety medications for a nursing mother," Dr. Gentile explained, but she strongly recommends speaking to your own doctor to figure out what works best for you.

Hope Clinic for Women offers postpartum depression counseling at one of the most affordable rates in Nashville. Again, it is perfectly fine for you to experience the normal baby blues. Call our office today at 615.321.0005 if you or someone you know may be experiencing postpartum anxiety or depression. Alex, our Counseling and Prevention Manager is here and ready to help you on your journey to healthy living.


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What Else is True? Galilee's Story:

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Meet Galilee and 13-month-old Scarlett. Galilee’s life seems like it could be our life, or that of our children. She grew up in the church. She was a hard worker. She dated some not so great guys, and then met the father of her baby. It seemed like a good relationship. So when she got pregnant in her late 20s, while she did not plan the pregnancy, it did not completely take her off guard. However, she quickly realized she was not at all equipped to be a parent, and with this crisis in front of them, their relationship began to suffer from a lack of communication.  

She learned about Hope Clinic from her boyfriend: “For me, Hope Clinic was very supportive right from the beginning. I never felt judged. Everyone was so friendly, so nice. It was clear they actually cared about me. When I first arrived, all I did was cry. I was in between jobs, living with my boyfriend’s mom and stepdad. It was just overwhelming. We talked about all of our options but realized that even with the difficult circumstances and uncertainty, we wanted to be parents. I began counseling with Kelsey and she helped me in so many ways. I learned about using ‘I’ statements, how to better communicate with the father of the baby, and ways to deal with stress with breathing exercises, walking and other relaxing hobbies. I also took so many classes at Hope Clinic! Couponing, baby safety, nursing, CPR and even met with the Mom’s Group and Postpartum Depression group. In the last 2 years I have taken advantage of all of the resources Hope Clinic offered and it was all free! And in exchange I was able to get diapers, wipes and clothes to last me this entire last year. Not only that, but I got a level of support I wasn’t getting anywhere else.”  

Today: Galilee and her boyfriend are no longer dating, but they are learning to co-parent together. She is still close with his mother (Scarlett’s grandmother). She is soon moving closer to her family in Clarksville but will continue her job at the YMCA working in the nursery (where she receives free daycare!).  

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What she thinks of her daughter Scarlett: “I never thought I could love another human being this much. She is my best friend right now and I love being with her, kissing her, just living life with her. I really can’t put into words how much I love her. She has completely changed me. I was kind of a workaholic before this and now because of her I realized I need to slow down and enjoy life. Scarlett is amazing. She knows what she wants, she is lovable. Loves music, playing in the bath and with her little friends at the Y. She loves all her family too. Most days I look at her and think: what did I do to deserve you?”  

Blessing in Brokenness Part II, BreAnna's Story:

When I found out I was pregnant I was young, living in another country and following my dreams. I was teaching 1st grade, learning about a new culture, going on vacations and building a community of some of the most amazing people I know. I am lucky to have an incredible family who supports me as much as possible. But when I moved back to the states, no one could really understand the pain I was feeling. 

I was angry at myself, sad that I was missing out on a life I loved and terrified of this tiny human growing inside of me. 

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My sister introduced me to the Hope Clinic, it truly saved me from my own emotions. I met with a counselor who helped me sort through the biggest feelings I'd ever experienced. He taught me about mindfulness, gave me breathing techniques and reminded me that it was ok to feel what I was feeling. 

I also worked through the Bridge program. I attended classes, met with a mentor and even made some friends! All while earning points to get diapers, wipes, clothes, blankets and so many other things. Which was such a blessing for a single mom. 

I am blessed every day to wake up to the sweetest smile and a "Hi momma!" from my most precious Harper. I constantly wonder how I became so lucky to be her mom. Today, I am teaching again and get to take Harper to the daycare at my school. 

I am so thankful for the positivity, love, and kindness I found at the Hope Clinic during one of the most difficult times in my life.

5 Habits of Confident People

 

Everyone suffers from insecurities or the occasional lack of confidence.  Especially when trying something outside of your comfort zone, like interviewing for a new job, starting college, or trying a new workout class, it’s easy to feel inferior to the other people around you.

But why does this happen?  We each have our areas of expertise as well as skills we aren't very good at.  Why, then, do we allow our insecurities to get the best of us?

Having confidence does not mean thinking you're better than everyone else.  Confidence stems from our belief in our own abilities – that even though we may not be good at something now, we definitely have strengths to offer (or a chance to build new skills).  Here are just a few habits of confident individuals.

1. They don't put others down.

Cutting down others to build yourself up is like trying to build a skyscraper with a shaky or insufficient foundation.  It simply doesn’t work!  Instead, just worry about yourself.

2. They believe in their abilities.

Everyone has weaknesses, but each person has unique strengths as well.  When approaching anything in life, confident people acknowledge their weaknesses but play up their strengths.

3. They look at new situations as a challenge.

Whether it’s your first day of a new job or your first day of college, confident people tackle new experiences with the utmost positivity.  These opportunities thrown in front of you are ways in which you can learn about yourself and grow.  Do not be afraid!

4. They don't care about what other people think.

Quite the challenge, I know.  I grew up as a ballet dancer, and this proved to be my greatest downfall when auditioning for ballet schools and companies.  Of course you should try to present yourself in the best way possible, but after that, who cares what people are thinking about you? People are drawn to confidence and shy away from nervousness.  So as long as you know that you’re working to the best of your ability, don’t worry about what others are thinking.

5. They have inquisitive minds.

Having confidence also means having the ability to take criticism and use it to your advantage.  You must be open to new suggestions to be able to improve yourself.  Confident individuals know that constructive criticism can only serve to help them.