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