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July 26, 2019
Motherhood is an exhilarating experience that brings with it a great set of responsibilities and changes. It is considered one of the most gratifying experiences of life, however, for some women, the postpartum stage is challenging as it is darkened by mental health disorders, like anxiety or depression. While a little anxiety is common and even needed during this stage, in some cases, it can become extreme and incapacitating.
Until now, research has focused on the prevalence, presentation, etiology, and treatment of postpartum depression (PPD). But now, there is a dearth of literature investigating postpartum anxiety (PPA). It is important to note that anxiety is also common during the postpartum period and has long-term and devastating effects on mothers and infants, even at subclinical levels. This is because PPA is associated with PPD and can cause a disturbed mother-infant attachment, reduce the likelihood of breastfeeding, increase the risk of infant abuse, and might delay social and cognitive development in infants. Moreover, it may also increase the child’s risk of developing anxiety later in life.
Postpartum anxiety is a clinically significant illness
Given the enormity of the effect of PPA on a mother and her child, it is indispensable to comprehend the complexities of this disorder and differentiate it from PPD. In comparison to the general population, the incidence of anxiety is more common in postpartum women, with its prevalence ranging between 6.1 to 27.9 percent in the first 6 months. Unfortunately, more work is required to offer treatment for anxiety to this population as currently, the treatment rates are low.
There are several reasons that could be said in contributing to the low treatment rate for PPA. Firstly, there is no availability of anxiety-specific screening measures for postpartum women. Secondly, PPA might co-occur with PPD, with the symptoms of both the disorders overlapping, making the identification of PPA difficult. In order to design and offer effective interventions, it is imperative to understand the specific symptoms of clinically relevant PPA and differentiate it from PPD.
Difference between postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety
There is a thin line between the symptoms of PPD and PPA. Some of the clinically significant differences between the two illnesses are:
The challenges of both PPD and PPA can be effectively addressed by speeding up research on hormonal changes, genetics, biomarkers of depression, and frequent comorbidity of PPD and anxiety.
Treatment of postpartum anxiety is feasible
Untreated PPA may be debilitating and putting the health of the mother and baby at grave risk. It might also affect a woman’s equation with her partner and impact her social interactions. Therefore, in case one notices major depression symptoms, they must seek immediate professional help, focus on self-care, and join support groups to alleviate the distressing symptoms.
If you or someone you know is displaying major depressive disorder symptoms and is looking for help, get in touch with the Invictus Health Group. The medical team at our network facilities can help identify the mental disorder and the underlying causes. Based on this, it can individualize a treatment program that can be administered at any of our state-of-the-art network facilities. For more information about depression and anxiety treatment programs for postpartum women, call our 24/7 helpline 866-548-0190 and speak with a member from our admissions team. You can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.