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Most new moms are made to believe that feeling stress and anxiety over the care of a newborn baby, as well as the personal and family adjustment that comes with welcoming a new life into the family, is completely normal. To a degree, that is correct. After all, there are positive and natural effects of anxiety, such as making a new mom more alert and protective of her newborn. Yet a constantly heightened state of anxiety can also lead to the mom becoming overly tense and agitated, causing sleep to become less restful and the mom to be moody and irritable. This in itself, while not pleasant, is a normal part of the adjustment a new mom makes, and is not a cause for concern.
Since anxiety is a normal part of postpartum adjustment, the condition of postpartum anxiety disorder often is misdiagnosed or goes undiagnosed altogether. Postpartum anxiety disorder is a conditioni in which the new mom remains at a constant heightened state of agitation, unable to release feelings of anxiety. This can result in the new mom’s inability to sleep, as well as an unfounded fear of hurting the baby in some way. The new mom may feel a constant state of anger, stress, irritability, and unhappiness.
The much publicized postpartum depression is typically characterized by excessive fatigue, sleeplessness, sadness, and change of appetite. With most new parents believing they do not have a treatable medical condition because the mom is not overly sad and depressed, but rather excessively irritable and tense, postpartum anxiety disorder often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. It is estimated that four to six percent of all postpartum women develop postpartum anxiety disorder, and very few receive medical treatment for it.
Side effects of postpartum anxiety disorder, if left untreated, result in bonding complications between mother and child and the mother unable to cope with daily activities and responsibilities. With these serious complications, the ability to recognize this condition and get medical treatment is paramount.
The origination of this medical disorder is not known, but it is believed to be triggered by genetic characteristics, a hormonal imbalances and excessive stress in the postpartum mom. The good news is that postpartum anxiety disorder is usually easily treated with either medication or counseling, or a combination of both. If you believe you or someone you know is suffering from this condition, seek medical attention as soon as possible.