Extreme anxiety after PP

Hi everyone, I was diagnosed with PP 12 weeks ago after the birth of my daughter. The remaining side effects now though are extreme anxiety and low self esteem. Has anyone here been through the same and gotten through it? At the moment I can't see a way out of my anxiety, and it's so extreme and debilitating, I'm worried it will affect my daughter and it is already affecting my relationship with my partner.

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  • Hi Nara1

    Thanks for your post ...... congratulations on the birth of your daughter. I'm sorry you're suffering side effects of extreme anxiety and low self esteem as you recover from PP. I think you have done really well in such a short time.

    I had PP twice years ago and it is a very traumatic illness. I had crippling anxiety with my first son and what seemed like an endless depression with my second. I have a record in my notes in which my GP at the time described me as "an anxious mother who brings her son to the surgery for the sligtest chill". I was also anxious that my son didn't wake every four hours to be fed and would pace up and down and stroke his face to check he was ok.

    Have you discussed how you are feeling with your G.P or care team? Perhaps your GP might be able to refer you for CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) which has been helpful to some mums here? I think it might be good for you to talk openly about how you feel and be given coping strategies to deal with these side effects.

    I wonder if you have seen the APP Guides on the site, "Recovery after Postpartum Psychosis" and Postpartum Psychosis : A Guide for Partners" the link being app-network.org/what-is-pp/... which you might find helpful. There is also a brilliant blog about all things PP at ppsoup.com.

    It's not easy but try not to worry .... you are doing well to cope with routine and the remnants of PP after battling such a frightening illness. With good ongoing medical care you will slowly fully recover.

    Take good care of yourself .... PP mums are amazing :) There will be other mums here to share their experiences.

  • U need to speak with your psychiatrist about your anti psychotic . The dose prob needs increased and perhaps you need a anti anxiety / diazepam

  • Hi and sorry to hear you are struggling. Extreme anxiety started two weeks after birth for me and was one of my symptoms of PPP. It was an irrational fear of life and everything about it. It's very hard to explain and I think everyone's experiences are different. My illness wasn't spotted straight away and I was tried on numerous antidepressants before being admitted to a general psychiatric ward and then the MBU for 6 months. I relied heavily on lorazepam, diazepam and most recently Promazine. You are doing very well to recover so quickly. My daughter is 18 months old and I still have down days, anxious days and am still not back at work. Things do get easier but you need to be patient. Recovery is a slow process and please don't rush it. Be kind to yourself and seek the support from others/family members if you can.

    I now go to the gym and have only just started making time for myself. This has helped me immensely as it gives me the head space I need to make sense of everything that has happened.

    Wishing you all the best in your recovery.

    Take care x x

  • Thank you all for your helpful replies. I am currently on olanzipine and sertraline and have a care coordinator who is regularly in touch with a psychiatrist. These are all helpful and I have seen improvements but the anxiety is still there even on 100mg of sertraline. But I guess it's still early days. Bethanylj - the anxiety is how you described- a fear of everything, not anything in particular.

  • Thank you for your reply and it's good you can communicate because in the early days of my illness I actually thought I was on death row and wouldn't leave my bed. It was awful. I'm an academic and analyse things but I just went into overdrive when I was really poorly. I can't explain it properly but I will try - it was like I was looking down on myself, like I wasn't present, I believed I was dead. But I knew I wasn't and felt trapped. That's where my anxiety came from, because there were no answers. I hope this makes sense x

  • How did you find caring for your child if you don't mind me asking? I have my partner and his family helping me on a daily basis, I don't know what I'd do without them. Sometimes I feel completely incompetent with my baby which upsets me.

  • In the early days I really struggled because I didn't feel well. I resented my daughter for making me poorly (that's how I saw it at the time) and I found the routine tiresome. The night feeds, the sleepless nights, the responsibility was also daunting. I was lucky to be transferred to an MBU and they helped me with routine and cared for her when I couldn't. Which wasn't often as I made myself do everything for fear that if I stopped I would somehow not be able to start again. It's ok to have help. You are not well at the moment but when you are better (which is what you need to concentrate on) you will care for your child and be a fantastic mum for having been through what you have and come out the other side.

    Stay strong and positive. X

  • Have faith that you are a decent human being even if you don't feel decent, and try to be frank with those closest to you. I don't want to carry on with details, but I will say I live in the US my child is now grown but when I had her in 1993 I felt exactly as you do. It was so very painful and the lowest time of my life. Although I neither murdered her nor killed myself, those ideas were my constant uninvited companions for months. I was very sick, and the type of illness was very misunderstood. To this day it makes me cry, but daughter and I both lived. We are not only alive, but doing well. I have 2 grandkids. During recovery, I found a poster stating THE ROAD OF LIFE IS ALWAYS UNDER CONSTRUCTION. I bought it, and kept it during the difficult months, taping it as it tore in five places. I was torn as well. Well that history was more long winded than I thought, but just letting you know I share your pain.

  • It's good to hear you got through it. How long did it last for you? It's been 3 months now and I can definitely see improvement but it's like I dip in and out of feeling terrified/depressed/anxious.

  • It basically took steps and starts through toddlerhood. Better one day, worse the next, till she was about two. This was a long time ago for me, but I still remember it as the worst time of my life. You expect to be happy after baby. It brings out your protective instincts in a weird way, too, like you are protecting the baby from yourself. That's the worst.

  • Hi Nara1

    So sorry you're going through this. 12 weeks is still so early. I recovered quite quickly from my PP after my son, I was lucky that the medication worked well and I didn't go on to have depression afterwards either. But I found the anxiety and low self esteem were the last to go. Unfortunately 3 years down the track these things are yet to return to 100%, but I do function well these days and nobody would be any the wiser. I think it was probably 5 months post baby that my self esteem started to improve, as did the anxiety. I have felt 'mostly' normal since then, I'm just not back to my old self and probably never will be. But the new me copes well with life and enjoys life, especially everything to do with my son. So, in saying all that, you will get better, it just takes time. Go easy on yourself x

  • Hi Nara,

    I'm a partner of someone who is on a similar journey to yourself and is doing well. I signed up on the APP site for one-to-one support for partners and it has been very helpful. Perhaps your partner may benefit from that too?

  • Thank you for all the replies, the anxiety has now calmed down with the medication I'm on (sertraline) but in its place is some depression. This makes me feel incapable of looking after her properly but in a different way. I keep feeling like everyone else is better at taking care of her than I am. And overwhelmed by the pressures of being a parent. Maybe I just need to get used to being a mother.

  • Hello Nara1

    Good to hear from you. I'm sorry your anxiety has been replaced by some depression. It's very hard to lift your mood some days isn't it? I had depression following PP and it was really draining and seemed endless at the time. I also had low self-worth and thought as you do that everyone else was better at taking care of my sons.

    I hope your care co-ordinator is helpful. Perhaps she can contact the psychiatrist to suggest other interventions to help with your depression?

    As I mentioned earlier, I think CBT would be a good way of talking to a professional who will listen as you explain your self doubt about your parenting and reassure you that you are a brilliant mum. Have you tried baby yoga or baby massage classes just to feel closer to your daughter and meet other mums? Also having a relaxing soak with your daughter is a lovely experience you could try. Or just sit on the sofa together and snuggle under the duvet.

    Being a new mum isn't easy but you have also had PP to cope with and the ups and downs of recovery ..... so you're doing really well. Try not to judge yourself too harshly .... the smile of recognition from your daughter will keep you positive and strong.

    Take care, we are all with you. xx

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