Anxiety Disorders


Anxiety and panic are common among women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth. Specific anxiety disorders can develop or worsen after childbirth.

Anxiety and Panic symptoms may include:

  • anxiety or fear that:
    • interrupts thoughts and interferes with daily tasks
    • stops the woman going out with her baby
    • leads the woman to check on her baby constantly
    • Constant worry
    • Feeling that something bad is going to happen
    • finding it difficult to relax and/or taking a long time to fall asleep at night
    • constantly feeling irritable, restless or “on edge”
    • Racing thoughts
    • fear of losing control or going crazy
    • Disturbances of sleep and appetite
    • Inability to sit still
  • panic attacks — outbursts of extreme fear and panic that are overwhelming and feel difficult to bring under control, including:
    • having tense muscles, and/or heart palpitations
    • hot or cold flashes
    • difficulty breathing
    • shaking, dizziness
    • nausea

Obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms may include:

  • strong physical sensation (butterflies)
  • repetitive, intrusive or repulsive thoughts
  • thoughts of harming self or baby
  • avoiding the baby
  • compulsive behaviors such as hand washing
  • checking and rechecking
  • counting or touching
  • compulsive housecleaning


Some women with postpartum emotional disorders recover without incident. Many others need professional help. Postpartum emotional problems are physical and real. A woman can not “pull herself out of it” any more than she can pull herself out of a heart attack.

A woman experiencing any of these symptoms can call our Support Line 805-541-3367 for free confidential information and referrals. All the symptoms, from the mildest to the most severe are temporary and treatable. Treatment varies, depending on the severity of the symptoms. For more information please see our Resources page and/or contact your medical provider for evaluation.

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