Prenatal and Postpartum Anxiety

IMG_2940While the term “postpartum depression” (PPD) has made many new or expectant moms anxious about how they will fare once the baby arrives, few women (or their primary health care providers, for that matter) realize that perinatal anxiety (i.e., prenatal and postpartum anxiety) is much more common, albeit less well known, than PPD. While it is natural to be worried about the health and well-being of the tiny human you are nurturing with your body both in the pre- and postpartum phase, sometimes anxiety can become so great that it can begin to interfere with daily life in more ways than imagined. As new or soon-to-be moms, we are all told that we will be tired, that the baby will cry, that we’ll be lucky to get a shower in each day or to go out with a shirt that actually stays clean and doesn’t get redecorated by our babies as soon as we step out the door. But how many moms are warned that even if the baby is sleeping fine, we may find ourselves unable to sleep at night? Or that despite the baby thriving and growing well, we will worry incessantly that he is not getting enough to eat, or that our baby is too big or too small compared to those of our friends or relatives?

So how do you know if your level of anxiety is something that may merit treatment? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you find yourself flooded with worries and concerns about the health and well-being of your new baby?
  • Does it feel like your thoughts are racing?
  • Do you find it difficult to eat, sleep or manage day-to-day activities because you are constantly checking on, stressing about, or worrying about the newest member of your family?
  • Have you been losing (or gaining) weight or have you noticed changes in your appetite?
  • Have you found it difficult to bond with your newest member (or care for your older children) due to heightened anxiety or feelings of guilt?
  • Are you more irritable or tense (either psychologically or physically)?
  • Do you find yourself being more forgetful or have trouble concentrating?

If you found yourself saying “Yes!” to any of these signs or symptoms and are either expecting a new baby or have had a baby within the last 12 months, then treatment for perinatal anxiety may be of benefit to you.

In my practice, we offer one of the only treatment programs in the area specifically designed for new or expectant mothers to help them learn specific skills and strategies for dealing with the major life changes that come along with having a baby. The Perinatal Anxiety Treatment Program (PAT Program) is based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), meaning that it is a structured, goal-directed, problem-focused, and active form of therapy.

This program is available as individual treatment or in a group format and lasts 12 weeks.  Groups are run several times a year and require a minimum of 4 participants, whereas individual treatment can begin at any time.

Moms are welcome to bring their newborns/infants with them when they come for treatment, regardless of whether it is individual or group format. Also take comfort in knowing that it is a breastfeeding friendly zone and that we love babies (even if they cry the entire session or do any of the other fun things that babies are apt to do at the seemingly worst possible times – we have seen it all and we will not be fazed in the least!)

Individual treatment lasts 1 hour, once a week for 12 weeks; groups run for 2 hours every week for 12 weeks.

For more information or to book an initial appointment, just give me a call or send me an email and let’s get started!