Post-Partum Anxiety? - Mothering Forums

Post-Partum Anxiety?

Beverly's Avatar Beverly (TS)
04:56 AM Liked: 10
#1 of 17
11-25-2002 | Posts: 502
Joined: May 2002
My son is 3½ months old, and for the past three weeks or so I have been having out-of-control anxiety and panic attacks that I've only just now realized are probably related to PPD. I worry all the time about me dying and not being here to raise my kids and see them grow up. I have myself convinced about half the time that I have one or another fatal medical conditions and that I will die in my sleep. I am mostly sure that there's nothing really wrong with me, but I can't stop thinking about it. If I'm not worrying about myself, I'm worrying about the baby and can't seem to stop checking if he's breathing (not the normal mama checking, but more like several times a minute).

I know I need to get some help, but my question is, has anyone else had extreme anxiety like this? What, if anything, helped? Does anyone know if there are any anti-depressants I can take while nursing?

Thanks in advance,
tara's Avatar tara
04:00 PM Liked: 5
#2 of 17
11-25-2002 | Posts: 2,612
Joined: Jan 2002
Hi, Beverly! Sounds like a really hard spot you're in right now, and it also sounds like PPD to me. I'm no expert, and my experience of PPD was more depressed than anxious, but I've known lots of PPD mamas who were like you. It's a classic PPD symptom... I'm hoping someone who has had your kind of PPD will chime in, but I wanted to make sure and let you know someone has read your post and is thinking about you.

Medication made a world of difference for me, and there are definitely medications that are safe while bf... I really didn't want to take medication, and you don't have to, but Paxil (the med I'm on) has been shown in studies to be undetectable in breastmilk. The pharmacist brought some studies up on his computer to show me.

Hang in there. Talk to your partner if he is someone you get good support from. Talk to friends and family if they are folks who support you well. And definitely talk to your midwife or doctor... Keep us informed, please, and take care.
CollegeMama's Avatar CollegeMama
04:03 PM Liked: 5
#3 of 17
11-25-2002 | Posts: 2,130
Joined: Oct 2002
I had anxiety issues before getting pregnant. I took Paxil and LOrazapham (I think that's how you spell it.) It worked pretty well with therapy added to it. I know that there is an anti-depressant that you can take while breastfeeding, so ask your OB about it (I would imagine that's who you'd need to call, since it's probably PPD related.)
((HUGS)) I've been there and it's not fun.
BrooklynDoula's Avatar BrooklynDoula
08:06 PM Liked: 6
#4 of 17
11-25-2002 | Posts: 4,701
Joined: Oct 2002
Hello! I suffered from lots of anxiety for years, although not during pregnancy or recently. But, my experience was SO isolating. I felt like I was crazy in a way no one had ever been. I had massive panic attacks where i felt onside my body, out of control, scared. I couldn't eat in public, was scared all the time and was really clingy with my partner. I saw docs and therapists who just gave me meds and said I was doing all the right stuff. Well, not much help since I felt crazy and hated being on meds. After several years I found a book that changed everything for me: The Phobia and Anxiety Workbook. It was awesome. I chucked all my meds, started taking vitamins, jogging, doing yoga, and realizing I had control over this. It was awesome and in a few months I felt better than I had in years. Now I almost never feel this way and I can stop it before it gets bad if I feel it starting.

Good luck. I recommend the book, open communication with your dh and hope you can find the time to try doing some of these things for yourself that helped me so much (I know its hard with kids!).
juicylucy's Avatar juicylucy
08:13 PM Liked: 5
#5 of 17
11-25-2002 | Posts: 2,216
Joined: May 2002
Hi Beverly

I could have written that post when my son was 3 months old- I felt exactly the same way. I was so anxious all the time, adn sometimes even felt that my son would be better off without me. It was terrible. I eventually ended up on Paxil which definitely helped my mood. However, my DS is 18 months old now and I am trying to wean off Paxil and it is dreadful. If you look up Paxil on, you will find lots of inof telling you how hard it is to wean off this drug (apparently the company who make it are being sued for not admitting how addictive the drug is, and how bad the withdrawal symptoms are).

I am not trying to be negative- if you feel that you need antidepressants, then Zoloft is supposed to be excellent for PPD and anxiety, and it is supposed to be the safest to take whjilst breastfeeding. Are you having any kind of talk therapy? That might help. I started doing yoga and meditation, which really helped as well. If you have any questions about it, please feel free to PM me. I will do what I can to help, even if it is just listening, because I know how hard it is. I was there, but I am finally coming out from under that dark cloud. It does go away.
Jennifer Z's Avatar Jennifer Z
06:46 AM Liked: 84
#6 of 17
11-26-2002 | Posts: 3,755
Joined: Sep 2002
Last week I did a report in my PSY 111 class on PPD and your symptoms sound like textbook PPD to me. Would definatly get it treated because, untreated, you are 25% more likely to still be suffering from these (and possibly worse) symptoms when your child is 1 year old. And yes, there are safe meds to take when b/f.
Beverly's Avatar Beverly (TS)
11:01 PM Liked: 10
#7 of 17
11-28-2002 | Posts: 502
Joined: May 2002
Thank you for your replies! I have been in touch with my midwife, and I had a housecall from the district nurse today. They are taking my anxiety/depression seriously, and I will be seeing a doctor and a therapist within the next few days. That's the good news.

The bad news is that it's 2am and even though I've been up for 19 hours and I had a very, very long exhausting day (cooked the entire Thanksgiving dinner for eleven people), I can't go to sleep because I can't stop worrying that I won't wake up if I do.

I have a weird feeling in my head and my stomach and I feel all tingly and nauseated and I just want to stop feeling like this. I want to enjoy my kids and stop worrying about something bad happening, and I want to be able to feel confident that I will see them grow up. I hate this.

I hope I can get some help to feel better soon.
Britt's Avatar Britt
11:26 PM Liked: 0
#8 of 17
11-28-2002 | Posts: 775
Joined: Nov 2001
Beverly, I'm so glad to hear you're getting help, but how difficult! I had terrible PPD after each child, but it ended within about six weeks each time. The first winter after I moved to Sweden, though, I had about six weeks (or maybe two months) of exactly what you're describing. Terrible, irrational anxiety. I was constantly worried about my kids, and was convinced, I mean, positive I had eaten tainted beef in Britain a decade ago. : My dh wanted to get me out, so he took me to the theater, and I spent the entire first act working out calculations for how many people might get CJD if the most dire predictions were correct...I informed dh of the potential statistics tearfully during the intermission. He was distressed as I cried through the whole second act, but I refused to leave. That was a real low point.

My littlest was about 18 months old, and my midwife thought that I was having some combination of late onset PPD combined with seasonal affective disorder. For me, just the diagnosis made a huge difference. I started spending much more time outside (I had been avoiding it because I was depressed) and slowly changed my schedule so I was sleeping at night again. (I had been having terrible insomnia.) I didn't take any drugs, but somehow something clicked and I felt like me again. It helped that the days started to get longer again.

Anyway, I'll be thinking about you. Feel free to PM if you want to chat.

And by the way, I'm impressed that you did a Thanksgiving Dinner! I got some Karo syrup and other Thanksgiving basics from the American store in Stockholm, but we're not going to put together the whole dinner until...well, who knows when. You've put me to shame!
chrissy's Avatar chrissy
01:00 AM Liked: 17
#9 of 17
11-29-2002 | Posts: 5,644
Joined: Jun 2002
Hi Beverly,

This anxiety is some truly awful stuff isn't it?! I got mine under control with a combination of meds (Paxil), talk therapy, and exercise. I really really was anti-medication but after more than a year of talk therapy, talk just wasn't cutting it. I tried several different medications before I found the one that worked for me without side effects. I took Paxil all through my pregnancy and continue to take it while I am breastfeeding.

You aren't alone and you are doing the right thing by getting help for yourself. You'll be back to feeling like yourself in no time. You can make it and you aren't crazy.

peace and love to you
pegmom's Avatar pegmom
04:15 AM Liked: 0
#10 of 17
12-03-2002 | Posts: 66
Joined: Nov 2002
I have had panic attacks for about four years now and know how horrible they can be. (It is not only the attack itself but the anticipation of having another.) The one thing I can tell you is that they do not go away on their own. You need help getting to the bottom of the problem. Therapy is very effective for anxiety and panic, the only problem being that it can takes a while to work for most people. I have taken both Zoloft and Prozac and they worked well for me in the past (both are safe for breastfeeding, Zoloft being the first choice esp. for a younger infant). Get checked for thyroid, hormone changes, etc. first. Find a good therapist. Not just anyone, but somebody you respect and can relate to (this may take a few tries but it is worth it in the end). You can discuss different treatment options. Basically, set up a good professional support system: homeopath, therapist, midwife, doctor. It will make you feel so much better to take action and know that there is help. My heart goes out to you. It is especially hard with a baby because you feel like you are missing so much by worrying all the time. It is not your fault and you will get better.
Envision's Avatar Envision
02:08 PM Liked: 0
#11 of 17
12-09-2002 | Posts: 314
Joined: Dec 2002

I had similar feelings to you when I was pregnant...and have them with each's very difficult because I feel so out of control.
I worry that someone is going to run into our house and shoot us...stuff like that...stuff that doesn't happen normally.

For the the symptoms go away after the baby is born...but I also deal with an overload of emotion and depression after the baby is born.
I was in a car accident and now I have severe anxiety when driving...not what you want!!

I think it is really good that you let your midwife know and that you are getting some information.
I would encourage you to research any drugs you might consider taking and know that there are natural alternatives and ways to conquer these symptoms.
I have been using essential oils and been aware of my diet and I am symptom free.
I put extra essential oils on when I go driving and it helps...

I am leary of medications and have heard some scary stuff about them so I am always looking for effective solutions from nature.

Angel36's Avatar Angel36
04:05 PM Liked: 0
#12 of 17
05-26-2008 | Posts: 7
Joined: May 2008
Hello Beverly!
First off I would like to let you know that you are not the only one who has had severe anxiety and panic attacks soon after giving birth to a child. About 3 months after my son was born I began experiencing feeling that I could not explain! I was edgy and nervous all the time - couldn't sleep at all and when I did fall asleep I would wake up in complete terror! I began having extremely negative thoughts - and was constantly checking on my son to see that he was ok. I often wondered if I had a physical illness and if I was going to die. I was extremely worried about not being able to raise my child properly and expereinced depression on top of the anxiety and panic attacks. It felt my whole life was turned upside down. I was 19 years old when I had my son - never once was I told anything about anxiety or panic disorder - I just assumed I was going crazy. After 2 weeks of enduring the terror I went to see my doctor and he put me on an anti-anxiety medication known as lorazepam (ativan) and an anti-depressant. Within hours I was feeling incrediably better! About 3 weeks after starting both medications I quit the anti-depressant. I had been on anti-depressants when I was 17 years old and didn't like the way they made me feel - so I decided I was better off without it. It took me over a year until I was back to almost normal. I was started on 1 mg of ativan a day and then upped to 2 mg about month after beginning the medication. A year later I began feeling somewhat anxious again so my doctor upped the dose to 2.5mg of ativan per day. NOT once was I told anything about the drug - the only thing I knew was that it had helped me get my life back together and without it I would be a mess. In March of 2007 I decided to start tappering off of the medication - I was feeling 100% better and didn't feel that I needed it any long. In March I cut down from 2.5mg to 2mg and didn't notice any changes what so ever. In June of 2007 I cut down from 2mg to 1.5mg and my whole world came crumbling down around me. I began experiencing increased anxiety - but at that point in time I had no idea that what I was feeling was withdrawal from the ativan. I immediately made an appointment with a doctor in the area - I had moved earlier that year and did not have a family doctor at this time. The first doctor I seen put me on an anti-depressant - it made me extremely high - I had panic attacks and anxiety worse then ever before - and was unable to continue on the medication. About a week later my brother drove me into the hospital - I was having a horrible panic attacks and was having a very difficult time functioning. The phyc nurse in the hospital put me on Paxil - another anti-depressant - I began experience insomnia and was lucky if I slept 3 hours in a 24 hour period of time. Four days later I made an appointment with another doctor - she insisted that I quit the ativan cold turkey - I had Paxil now so I wouldn't need the Ativan any longer. I went home that day - did not take any Ativan that evening - and nothing the next morning - when I woke up in the morning I felt extremely anxious and panicky - I was scared - and spent most of the morning pacing the kitchen - at about 12pm that day my brain had a spasm - I began blacking out - immediately I reached for my bottle of Ativan and took a .5mg dose. I felt better immediately - although I was still experiencing horrible anxiety. Later that evening I took another .5mg dose. The next morning when I crawled out of bed - I sat at the kitchen table and my body went through a full body muscle spasm for about 2 hours. It was aweful - I was jurking and I couldn't stop - I cried and cried and cried. I took .5mg twice that day as well. I also experience a headache in the back of my neck to the point that I had to walk around with a cold pack on my neck in order to keep the pain under control. The next morning I spent two hours over the toilet throwing up - I was in complete hell. That afternoon I jumped on my computer and started reseaching lorazepam withdrawal - what I found was horrifying. I immediately upped my dose to 1.5mg a day and made an appointment with the doctor that had put me on the medication to begin with. I also quit the Paxil that day as well as I had read that it had a very severe withdrawal syndrome as well. I slept for the first time in 5 days - for the whole night! It took 6 weeks until I was stabilized to the point that I could live a normal life again. I began withdrawaling from that Ativan at .125mg every 2 weeks. When I got down to only 1mg of Ativan I started withdrawaling at .0625mg every two weeks. I experience minor withdrawal for about 1 year after started the slow tapper - In total it took me about 18 months to get completely off the medication. I wanted to share my story with you to warn you again taking these kinds of drugs!

My advice to you:

Next time you go to the book store purchase the book:
When Panic Attacks - The new drug-free anxiety therapy that can change your life by David. D. Burns, M.D.

Make an appointment with a reflexologist in your area - you would be surprised at how much insight you can get from someone working on your feet.

About panic attacks:

A panic attack starts with a shot of adrenaline in your body. This causes the fight of flight reaction. Immediately your heart starts to beat faster and harder - your breathing becomes difficult - you may feel dizzy or faint - even sweaty - your vision may be blurred - etc...

These physical sensations can not be prevented however your reaction to them can be.

Most people worry that when they have a panic attack that they are having a heart attack (because of the fast hard beats of the heart) that they're going to stop breathing (because breathing becomes difficult) that they're going to pass out (because they feel dizzy) or that they're going crazy.

Rest assured it is well documented that a panic attack can not cause any of these things.

Once I learned this whenever I had a panic attack I was able to put a stop to it before the panic came on. I simply felt only physical sensations.

About 3 months later the panic attacks stopped all together.

I hope that this helped!
Angel36's Avatar Angel36
04:10 PM Liked: 0
#13 of 17
05-26-2008 | Posts: 7
Joined: May 2008
Hello Envision!
I completely agree with you that people should seek out the natural forms of healing from anxiety and panic before even considering going on chemical medication! I also use essential oils, reflexology, cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxion techniques, a special diet (very little sugar and no caffine). I also learned to listen to my body and give it what it needs!

I think you gave excellent advice!
Take Care!
notaperfectmom's Avatar notaperfectmom
01:37 PM Liked: 0
#14 of 17
05-27-2008 | Posts: 90
Joined: Apr 2008

Absolutely this sounds PPD related. Been there....done that. Both before I had my baby and post-partum. I've had depression and anxiety and honestly....the anxiety sucks the worst. It is SO exhausting.

Yes there are natural things that will help...deep breathing, exercise, acupuncture can help a lot also etc. BUT just as you shouldn't rule out natural remedies you shouldn't rule out medication. The more serious your panic attacks and anxiety, the more likely it is that medication will help you to get past it.

I have been on medication a few times in my life and the way I always know that I NEED it is when I get to that place that I describe as "on the other side of the wall". One side of the wall is normal life where sucky stuff happens, where i can get worried or anxious or unhappy but my thinking is still pretty straight. I'm in the same world as everyone else around me. That is when I find other ways and methods of dealing with what I'm feeling. The "other" side is when I need help - professional, medication help. When I start living in a world that is separated from all the other people around me. When he anxiety and depression are not "normal". If I get the feeling that it isn't fair that I feel like this and everyone else is normal, when I have thoughts about not being able to cope if the rest of my life carries on with this level of anxiety, it is time to get help.

Personally I've done very well on Celexa so I was on that post partum...breastfed and never had an issue. It had worked for me before so that is why i went back to it.

I think the general thinking is that while medication is better avoided if possible, it is much much better than you baby having a stressed out, depressed, anxious Mom.

Good Luck - let us know what happens. Hope you get some relief soon
mom0810's Avatar mom0810
01:50 PM Liked: 652
#15 of 17
05-27-2008 | Posts: 3,046
Joined: May 2006
You're never supposed to use Ativan as described above. It is only to be used short term and never so often as described. This tyoe of medication is very addictive, unliike ssri's.

I have a squirming baby in my ;ap so I am not goin to correct the typos.
Angel36's Avatar Angel36
01:58 PM Liked: 0
#16 of 17
05-27-2008 | Posts: 7
Joined: May 2008
Hello mom0810!
I agree that you're not suppose to use ativan longterm - however when you are prescribed the medication and are not told that it can't be used long term - or what will happen when it is used long term - then you just trust the doctor - thinking that they're there to help you and not to hurt you! Right?
mom0810's Avatar mom0810
11:04 AM Liked: 652
#17 of 17
05-28-2008 | Posts: 3,046
Joined: May 2006
Yes of course. My point is that one should always be under the care of a doctor (psychiatrist) AND a therapist so that things like this don't happen. NEVER just get meds from the family doc or whomever. Always go to the right doctor because many physicians do not understand the meds they are prescribing.
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