Severe anxiety : I had PPP 10 weeks... - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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Severe anxiety

MarBan profile image

I had PPP 10 weeks post delivery of my baby in Jan this year. I had a manic episode and stayed at hospital for 3 weeks. I quickly recovered from my psychosis (I am no longer on olanzpine stopped it 3 months ago) . I had terrible depression for a while and now I’m suffering from really bad anxiety (with physical symptoms dry mouth, tingling lips, trembling body, tension headache).. it makes me unable to function, socialise or look after my baby. I don’t like to be left alone with her . I am always looking at other people’s lives and wish I can live like them happy, I was a very bubbly, outgoing person that loved going out and speaking to people. I just want to be there for my daughter, I want to be the fun/cool mum I had imagined for her. My doctor gave me oxezapam to use when required but I find that I need to use it daily to cope. My husband is frustrated at me for popping pills all the time and he is worried that I get dependent. He complains to me that he wants to live a normal life which I would love too. My doctor is worried to put me on SSRI as that can trigger another manic episode. I don’t know what to do I’m really struggling.. I have tried meditation , exercise- they help me sometimes but the feeling is so intense. can someone share with me their story and give me hope please

8 Replies

Hey MarBan! First of all, i want to cheer you up and say that things will get better and your family and your kid will get bubbly happy mother back. it’s just that every PP journey is unique and difficult, and it is comprised of dozens of battles with mental health and searching for accurate treatment.

and my personal opinion is that also it’s a lot about finding the right doctor who will be courageous enough to try and try and try and don’t give up on you and who will not trap you into protocols for other mental health diseases which are not all accurately relevant to PP as PP is a bit of everything in terms of mental health. and also differs from woman to woman.

As for my PP journey it pretty much what you described - i was very very manic after labour, then i was on antipsychotics for about 7 months. and i also suffered fromterrible anxiety with physical symptoms and my team was also worried to give me SSRIs.

As much as i can understand your team’s concern about SSRIs , i still think that if PP was your first and only manic episode and if you didn’t suffer from bipolar prior birth , it’s worth trying SSRI with a coverage of a small dosage of olanzapine.

As for me, nothing helped with my anxiety until it got too bad - along with uncontrollable anxiety i developed insomnia and depression.

so when my kid was 11 month eventually i was prescribed SSRI (prozac) which cured my anxiety within 3-4 months. and it didn’t trigger mania. and now my kid is 1 year 10 months old and still no sign of mania. so i guess it was worth trying ssri.

So if i could give a piece of advice that would be persuade your team to try SSRI.

Pikorua profile image
PikoruaVolunteer

Good morning MarBan,

congratulation on the birth of your baby this January. I am sorry that you are struggling with anxiety and not wanting to be on your own with the baby.

I have had PPP in 2010. It is good to read about other females' life experiences, but I never fit into the same shoes, which is absolutely fine! I do not compare, but learn from you and many other mums.

I have been living with anxiety since I became very poorly. After being released from a Psychiatric Unit, I have had to wean off some very traditional drugs and was successful with the help of some amazing professionals including my partner, who was my full time carer for one year and looking after our baby boy.

Not only because of ill treatment in hospital, but because of continues traumas with unexpected life events I have had to live with fear, anxiety and Insomnia for a long time.

You see I did not know that I have had the disposition of BP in my family.

I tackled my Insomnia with CBD, a routine and a healthy and safe home environment contributed to improving my well being . Might you it took 8 yrs. to get to the diagnosis and stopping me from painting at night.

Anxiety, agora and social phobia is part of my anxiety issues, but my tools may help you with your PPP recovery:

- yes, exercising is good...I walk the neighbour's dog, gardening, cycling etc.

- humidifier with essential oils to keep me relaxed and calm

- meditation probably has helped me most to get rid of panic attacks or tackle

situations such as claustrophobic environments like being stuck in MRI or having to wait for an appointment in unfamiliar environments

- I-Pod is such a great healer to distract myself from anxious moments or possible triggers whether it is music or wonderful inspirational and spiritual people, who talk about their lived experiences (search for anxiety and there are quite a few suggestions)

- I enjoy online course, but one can also focus on hobbies, something which is resting your mind...

-...in my case it is painting

- my two cats release happy hormones all the time

- I practice Reiki

- peer support, can be a great healer, somebody who can listen without being judgmental...

You already made a great start and asked for help. Considering that you have been recovering only this year, you've been doing so incredibly well. It is always good to develop a support network and/or get a second opinion. I am very much into a holistic approach. It takes time to find the right path, which is tailor made for you. Do not stress about what other people think. Make your own choices by extracting, researching and evaluating useful information by professionals.

mind.org.uk/get-involved/st...

sane.org.uk/uploads/Anxiety...

useful Apps

Headspace

Calm

EmiMum profile image
EmiMumVolunteer

Hi MarBan,

How are you feeling today? I am sorry to hear that you suffered from pp in January and that you are currently struggling with anxiety.

It is sadly very common to get depression and anxiety after postpartum psychosis, it was the case for me after my pp in 2018.

I can understand your desire to feel better and being the fun cool mum; however, those expectations are sometimes distorted when we are in the middle of a depression or anxiety episode. Talking from my own experience, I used to torture myself by comparing me against other mums that seemed so put together, and I would constantly ask myself why I couldn't be the same. But let me just say, you have been through the massive trauma that pp is and you have come the other side of it, that takes courage and mettle, it is not an easy ordeal at all. Perhaps now it would be a good time to reflect on how far you have come already, and not stress out about the future because that will come, there are many years down the line and you will have an amazing relationship with your baby and will feel back to your old self.

On the subject of medication, it is tricky as everyone is a bit different. I was on SSRI and olanzapine at the same time for a period of time, it was sertraline in my case. Certainly it is a good idea to discuss medication with your doctor if you feel that your current one is not working out at the moment. Medication can be a bit of trial and error unfortunately, as it is very individual and our bodies will react differently to it.

I also did CBT for my depression and anxiety and I found that very very helpful, is this something that could be offered to you through your perinatal mental health team? A good therapist can make a huge difference in your life.

Take good care and hope that you start feeling more in yourself soon. We are always here when you need it.

Hi MarBan, I am so sorry to hear you are struggling. Like the others have said, you are not alone, with time and proper treatment and supports, you will absolutely get better. I experienced PPP and mania after the birth of my third child, once the mania/psychosis subsided, I too was left with debilitating anxiety and a low mood. After many months of suffering my psychiatrist started me on a mood stabilizer called Valporic acid/Epival, from what I understand it is known to reduce anxiety, with a low chance of it triggering further psychotic or manic episodes…it might be worth asking about. Like you, I also used exercise, therapy, and Ativan when needed. Hoping that you start to feel better soon. Sending strength!

Teresa_K_S profile image
Teresa_K_SVolunteer

Hi MarBan,Anxiety is horrible isn't it? No matter what the cause it becomes like a monster that grows as it starts to take over.

Don't worry as you can get better from anxiety but it takes a few approaches to get there.

Firstly if you feel an SSRI would help then discuss with a consultant psychiatrist if are still under one or you can be referred. SSRI are great at helping with anxiety. I would say like Varvarita that an SSRI alongside an antipsycotic or mood stabilizer would give the belt and braces against a mania from the SSRI lifting the mood too much. I have been on Venlafaxine and a moodstabilzer for a long time. However, I would say that we all have different stories when it comes to medication and no one except your consultant can really advise.

Medication apart there is a lot we can do for ourselves with anxiety. There is a lot of info out there on self help and the key is to find the ones that work for you.

For myself it is dog walks, progressive muscle relaxation, self hypnotherapy, mindfulness. Trying not to overload myself with too many things to do at once also helps.

The one thing that is important is exposure. This means not avoiding situations that make you anxious. The more you avoid the more you become anxious. It's hard to push through exposure, I know.

Myself and my daughter have just recently contributed to a film about parenting an anxious teenager. Ironically, you wouldn't believe the anxiety it caused me the week the film crew were due at the house!

Anyhow the film isn't edited and posted yet but will be on the MindMate website when it's available.

Also the book Feel the Fear and do it Anway by Susan Jeffries is one that helped me sometime ago.

You can do it and well done for coming thus far. You will be the mum you want to be. Just give yourself a bit of time

Teresa x

Lilybeth profile image
LilybethVolunteer

Hello MarBan

I’m sorry to hear you are struggling and hope the shared experiences and support here has been helpful. I notice from your earlier post that you were 90 hours delivering your precious daughter and then PP hit, so I think you have been through so much since January.

I had crippling anxiety and depression during my recovery, feeling helpless and hopeless. Are you having support from the perinatal team until your daughter is one year? I think just being able to talk about how you are really feeling might help. Do you think asking your GP to be referred for counselling might be something to consider? I had counselling, unrelated to PP, but it was such a relief to talk openly in confidence.

It s difficult for partners and sometimes their worries turn into frustration as they try to support us. There’s a paragraph in the PP Insider Guide, “Postpartum Psychosis : A Guide for Partners” at app-network.org/what-is-pp/... on page 12 commenting “The experience of going through PP does not have to be ‘done and dusted’. It may feel difficult to accept but you won’t be able to control how long your partner takes to get over her illness ....”. APP also have support for partners if this might be helpful for your husband.

I also read from your earlier post that you were on maternity leave until August so it must be very difficult if you have returned to your very demanding job. Do you have a trusted friend to speak to? Be kind to yourself, recovery at times is very up and down but you will emerge and be the mum and wife you wish to be.

Sending you a hug of comfort ... take care.

Lilybeth profile image
LilybethVolunteer

Hello again MarBan

Since my earlier reply and if you are in the UK, I have been wondering whether APP’s Second Opinion Psychiatry Service at app-network.org/what-is-pp/... might be helpful to your doctor who is worried about the consequences of putting you on SSRI?

The wonderful team offers second opinion or consultation to patients with the aim of assisting and advising clinicians and their patients in diagnosis and management. Requests must be made by those in charge of your care (Psychiatrist or GP). There is no charge for this service either to you or the referring NHS Trust. The team is based within Cardiff University but I think virtual meetings are possible if more convenient. Many years ago I had the privilege of meeting the team who were able to confirm my diagnoses, for which I am forever grateful.

I think you should be very proud of how far you have come in such a short time. PP mums are truly amazing and we are all here to lean on. Be kind to yourself and take one day at a time.

Asppp13 profile image
Asppp13Volunteer

Hey MarBan,

Having read your message I think it's important to say that it takes time to recover from this sort of illness and you need to allow that to happen gradually.

I didn't like being on medication and was worried about getting addicted / dependent on it but had to accept that it really helped and I was on it for five years. I gradually came off it with support when I was ready.

It's still very early days for you but it does sound like your are making good progress. It's good to do meditation and exercise as these have lots of benefits.

I honestly believe your bubbliness and contentedness regarding life will return as you get stronger with each passing year. Being kind to yourself in the meantime is key to recovery.

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