Anxiety after having a baby is surprisingly common—here's how these new moms are coping with it. 

Blake Bakkila
July 24, 2018

Postpartum depression has long been in the spotlight, with celebrity mothers and real new moms opening up about this mental health condition that catches many women by surprise.

But there's another mood disorder that can strike once pregnancy is over: postpartum anxiety. While approximately 15% of new moms are diagnosed with postpartum depression, 10% are estimated to develop postpartum anxiety, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Symptoms of the condition include a noticeable increase in anxiety that can in turn cause panic attacks and even depression.

RELATED: 7 New Moms Get Real About How They Learned to Love Their Postpartum Body

Recently, more new mothers have started talking about it. Arielle Noa Charnas, who runs the popular lifestyle blog Something Navy, has been sharing candid, relatable messages about life after welcoming her daughter Esme. In a series of posts on her Instagram Story, she diagnosed herself with postpartum panic attacks and anxiety.

“The last week I’ve been experiencing some weird symptoms like shakiness, nervousness, heart racing, sometimes it gets to the point where I feel like I might be suffering from a serious disease and the fear of dying only heightens my anxiety,” she wrote. “I’ve always dealt with small bouts of anxiety [throughout] my life but [postpartum] has made it substantially worse.”

Charnas used her message as a call to action, encouraging other moms to open up about their experiences. Below, you’ll see how five other women have taken to Instagram to share what postpartum anxiety has been like for them.

“I had these obsessive thoughts that centered around death,” new mom Gabriela Carreon shared in a post on The Ollie World. “Me dying, my kids dying. My thoughts were always racing ... and I had so much anger. I was mad all the time.”

Hi! I'm Natasha. Like so many of you, I lead a busy, full life as a partner, mom and business owner. I’m also someone who lives with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) who has struggled with postpartum anxiety (PPA). 👋⠀ ⠀ I've written some here to you all about PPA, but I talked in depth about my experience on the most recent episode of @themiddleofeverything podcast. ⠀ ⠀ So many of us are discussing and learning more about mental health right now, out in the open, in front of God and everybody (at last!). Let’s keep it up, shall we? ⠀ ⠀ I'm going to point to this episode a few times over the next week or two as part of an effort to continue to grow awareness of PPA. I also want to talk about what has helped me in my recovery—not to say it's what you should do, but just in case there's even a small chance that my continued trial and error with all this could serve you. ⠀ ⠀ Let me know if you listen to the episode! 👯 ⠀ #postpartum #postpartumanxiety #postpartumanxietyawareness #postpartumdepression #postpartumdepressionawareness #postpartumdepressionsurvivor #postpartumjourney #gad #anxiety #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #makersmovement #makersgonnamake #handmadeisbetter #creatorslane #abmcrafty #cylcollective #tulsa #dowhatyoulove #livecolorfully #livesimple #inspiremyinstagram #tulsaoklahoma #craftsposure #makersvillage #favehandmade #thehandmadeparade #handsandhustle #mycreativebiz #finenesting (Photo by @chelseaahlgrim)

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“Like so many of you, I lead a busy, full life as a partner, mom and business owner,” Natasha Ball shared, introducing herself on Instagram. “I’m also someone who lives with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) who has struggled with postpartum anxiety (PPA).”

Hi it’s me, Kristine, the owner and bow maker at Annie and Pretzel. I don’t like to put myself on camera much but I’m stepping out of my box to make an official introduction. I’m a wife, mother, teacher, and creator. I love house projects, baking cookies (and eating them), musicals, singing, shopping, and obviously making bows. After I had my daughter I struggled with postpartum anxiety, but at the time didn’t realize what I was struggling with actually had that name. Postpartum anxiety is pretty normal to an extent. They send you home with this tiny baby and now it’s your responsibility to keep the baby safe and healthy. There would be something wrong if you didn’t worry about that. What I suffered with was a much greater amount of anxiety and worry called “intrusive thoughts.” Without going into a ton of detail, I got help from my doctor and a therapist, was supported by an incredible husband, and I opened this shop. By opening this shop I was able to escape the thoughts in my own head. Every order brought some relief and in a way was some sort of additional therapy for me. This experience opened my eyes to how real mental Illness is. I’m so very grateful for all the love and support I’ve received through this shop, especially the lovely people who have followed along from the very beginning. Thank you for your orders, likes, comments, and love. I saw and appreciated every last one. If you or someone you know is struggling with either postpartum depression or anxiety, know you are not alone. There are many resources, support groups, and people who want to help you. I was so surprised to find out how many other women were going through the same thing. Don’t be afraid to seek help. If you’ve read this far, thank you! Again, thanks for supporting this little shop. I know there are much larger shops you could choose from so this Mama is so grateful when you choose #Annieandpretzel. . . . Comment + Like this picture for a chance to win a $50 shop credit. 1 winner will be announced in our stories on the 1st day of each month! Must be following us!

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“Postpartum anxiety is pretty normal to an extent,” wrote Kristine Smith, owner of the Etsy shop Annie & Pretzel. “They send you home with this tiny baby and now it’s your responsibility to keep the baby safe and healthy. There would be something wrong if you didn’t worry about that. What I suffered with was a much greater amount of anxiety and worry called ‘intrusive thoughts.’”

I’ve been a Mom for almost 3 years now. During those 3 years I have been on and off anxiety meds. The journey has not been the easiest, but I have learned about who I am as a Mom and become so much stronger because of the journey. 🌿 When I was 3 months postpartum I finally saw my Doctor to get some help for the major baby blues and extreme exhaustion I was feeling. I was struggling at this Mom gig. I have never struggled with anxiety or depression until I became a Mom of triplets. The lack of sleep was tortuous and my anxious heart was crippling me. I was fearful of everything and my heart was smothered in “what if’s?” 🌿 When I saw my Doctor, she told me I was actually high risk for PPD because of my infertility, multiples pregnancy, and traumatic birth. I certainly was not prepared for the struggles that came. And I kind of wish I was more aware about the risk factors and the possibilities of PPD or Anxiety prior to having kids. I had this non existent idea of Motherhood. I thought it was going to make the happiest I have ever been. And don’t get me wrong, it certainly has. It’s the most rewarding journey. However, Motherhood is not easy. I have also struggled more to love myself and find self worth and confidence which has always come so natural to me. 🌿 When I stopped breastfeeding I went on Lexapro daily and Xanax for my panic attacks. And I have been on them both and off since my kids were 3 months old. 🌿 Being on anxiety meds does not make me a failure. It doesn’t mean I am not good enough or undeserving. It means I am doing what I need to to be the best I can be for my kids, my family. 🌿 Our mental health journeys are all personal, heart breaking, and usually very difficult. Yet what I have seen more than anything birthed from my mental health journey is strength. I am strong and I’m fighting anxiety daily. I am learning more about myself and my needs as a Mom. A new found confidence has been placed in my heart. I am brave. And I am not alone. I am doing what I need to do to help me walk through this season of Motherhood. I am owning my journey and believing by sharing my story someone’s heart is touched!🌿 Tee: @themomculture

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“When I was 3 months postpartum I finally saw my Doctor to get some help for the major baby blues and extreme exhaustion I was feeling,” Desiree Fortin, who shares her stories with the headline Confessions of the Anxious Mama, captioned one post. “I was struggling at this Mom gig. I have never struggled with anxiety or depression until I became a Mom of triplets. The lack of sleep was tortuous and my anxious heart was crippling me. I was fearful of everything and my heart was smothered in ‘what if’s?’”

I never even knew what a "Panic Attack" was, until I had one. But when I openly share my panic attack episode, most people have a friend who's had one, OR they've experienced one themselves. And I'm always left feeling like "What the hell! How has no one I know ever shared with me?"When mine struck, I was alone with 2 of my kids, my baby being 8 weeks old. I thought I was having a heart attack, OR stroke which would end in death, it was that intense. I called 911& called my husband at work, truly beliveing that might be our last conversation. And in true "Mom Form" apologized for what was happening & that he would have to raise our kids alone. Even after the Fire Department & ambulance arrived(God bless them, they knew immediately what they were dealing with & were amazing) I was convinced I had to go get my heart checked at the hospital. Which turned out to be, just fine. What wasn't fine, was my postpartum anxiety, that I was in complete denial about. Not me, I talk about parenting all day, and I've got it together. There were a million signs..like obsessing over my baby being killed by a celiling fan at the cottage, or the spider that I saw right before bedtime, that I truly believed would bring its spider friends and attack my baby when I fell sleep (I never did fall asleep). By having that panic attack, my body forced me to seek help. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky to get that wake up call. I know now my postpartum anxiety was partially linked to my breastfeeding aversion with my 3rd baby (PLEASE don't attack me pro-breastfeeders. I breastfed my first 2 kids exclusively for a year and never experienced this). My point is this. There is NO shame in needing help. It's not your fault & you should never be embarrassed to seek help for mental health issues. I swear to you almost everyone I know has experienced a mental health issue in their lives. Seek the help you need & DO NOT worry about judgement. Worry about you & know that there is help. Ending breastfeeding, slowing down, getting more sleep & exercise.. PLUS having this bottle of 10 pills (some sedative) in my purse in case I ever experience another panic attack was my solution. #YouAreNotAlone

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“There were a million signs,” Vanessa Rempel said of her first panic attack. “Like obsessing over my baby being killed by a [ceiling] fan at the cottage, or the spider that I saw right before bedtime, that I truly believed would bring its spider friends and attack my baby when I fell sleep (I never did fall asleep). By having that panic attack, my body forced me to seek help.”

The joy of welcoming a new life into the world is just one part of parenthood, and it can trigger a range of intense emotions that may be normal but aren't always healthy. Thanks to these women, postpartum anxiety is starting to get the attention the condition deserves.