Anxiety In Moms | Why Motherhood Is A Strong Source Of Anxiety And What To Do About It

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Mom anxiety is very much a real thing, and it deserves serious attention and resolution.

RELATED: The Connection Between ADHD And Anxiety

In this article:

  1. What Is Anxiety?
  2. What Is Mom Anxiety?
  3. Why Is Motherhood a Cause for Anxiety?
  4. What Are the Types of Anxiety Mothers Experience?
  5. How Much Is Too Much Anxiety?
  6. What Are the Remedies for Mom Anxiety?

Mom Anxiety: What Causes It and How to Deal with It

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s natural and adaptive response to feelings of being threatened. Threats can be concrete and specific; it can also be from an imagined threat, like imagining loved ones getting hurt.

What Is Mom Anxiety?

Mom anxiety generally encompasses the spectrum of anxiety felt by new and veteran mothers alike. It involves triggers specific to motherhood: new mom anxiety or first-time mom anxiety, new single mom anxiety, and many other variations.

Why Is Motherhood a Cause for Anxiety?

1. Feelings of Uncertainty

Mothers often have to face the uncertainty of making decisions regarding the care of their children. This results in feelings of insecurity and anxiety, especially when negative thoughts about the future start spiraling.

With so many tips on motherhood out there, it can be overwhelming to decide what to do. That, along with how societal pressures imposed on women and mothers, can also contribute to feelings of anxiety.

What to do about it: There is not a single right way of raising a baby or taking care of a family. Being the head of a family means that you get to decide what works best for you and your family in terms of raising them and caring for them.

Focusing hard on your child’s needs and keeping your face forward can help refocus your priorities. People will always have an opinion but that should not have any negative bearing, because they don’t direct your life, nor do they have 100% insight on it.

2. Constant Self-Comparison

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Self-image is generally a tricky thing to manage, and mothers may have it worse than anyone. Besides having to deal with new babies, raging hormones, and bodily changes, mothers also have to deal with the toxicity of social media influencers, as well as unfair mom standards set, unfortunately, by other moms.

What to do about it: Focus on yourself, your life, your family, and your home. Never compare yourself to the seemingly glamorous mothers on television or social media leading pristine lives; they never show the whole story.

Look to your own family: Are your children happy, well-fed, and well-loved? This could only mean you’re doing a great job as their mom.

3. Motherly Guilt

Huge pressure on motherly tasks is often placed on women when raising their own families. Society calls for a mother to fit into certain molds that involve leaps and bounds of self-sacrifice, which many modern families are finding new ways to compromise with.

Moms, who are also human beings, may feel guilty about wanting things for themselves while feeling that time is passing by too fast and that their children will outgrow them.

What to do about it: Much of the pressures and standards set for moms tend to be antiquated and unrealistic. Moms are humans too and don’t deserve to be guilted out of what makes them who they are as individuals.

In fact, the more in tune with themselves they are, the better mothers they can be. Unrealistic self-sacrifice can only lead to guilt and even resentment, something children can easily sense and carry with them into adulthood.

4. Planning Another Baby

Planning a family can be stressful at best, and it can be extra stressful for a mother. This is because she has to carry the load by herself; deciding the right timing and overthinking the future are other kinds of thoughts that can factor into a mom’s anxiety.

What to do about it: It’s all about finding what works for you and your family. Worrying about things in the future, such as if you will love the new baby as much as the others are unfounded at best.

Parenting may be different for each of your children, but the love you have for them will be equal and no less great.

What Are the Types of Anxiety Mothers Experience?

1. Postpartum Anxiety Disorder

Childbirth often gives way to a barrage of emotions, anxiety among them, but in some cases it can prevent mothers from properly caring for themselves and their baby.

Symptoms of postpartum anxiety include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Insomnia/difficulty falling asleep
  • Muscle tension
  • Trouble with concentration, focus, and memory

Continuous struggle with debilitating postpartum anxiety can lead to postpartum depression.

2. Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are abrupt feelings of intense discomfort or fear and are common in many mothers. They manifest as:

  • Racing heart
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Sense of terror or impending harm/death
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and fingers

Panic attacks aren’t dangerous but can often feel that way. They are usually brief but feel like they can last longer and are usually not visible to those in the immediate vicinity.

3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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Some moms deal with thoughts that are highly distressing and cyclical in nature:

  • Obsessively avoiding certain situations and objects
  • Repetitive phrases and prayers
  • Obsessive cleaning and rearranging
  • Repeated checking if things are in order

4. Postpartum Psychosis

With postpartum psychosis, the mother may be experiencing delusions, misdirected beliefs, and hallucinations such as hearing voices or seeing things others cannot.

Symptoms of postpartum psychosis are often sudden and occur within two weeks of childbirth:

  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Hyperactivity
  • Decreased need/inability to sleep
  • Communication difficulties
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Paranoia

Postpartum psychosis is temporary and treatable but must be dealt with as an immediate emergency.

5. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Some women may experience childbirth as an extremely traumatic event, leading them to develop post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD for mothers include:

  • Vivid nightmares, memories, and flashbacks of the delivery
  • Feelings of numbness and detachment
  • Avoidance of circumstances, events, or activities that may remind her of childbirth
  • Extreme physical and emotional reactions to triggers

6. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Mothers with GAD often experience uncontrollable worries with regards to their daily tasks, as well as taking care of their baby. They may feel like they’re always on edge, constantly have excessive doubts about themselves, their actions, and thoughts, and have difficulty sleeping due to excessive, cyclical thoughts.

RELATED: 7 Tips For Dealing With Long Term Depression

7. Social Anxiety

New mothers with social anxiety can experience feelings of extreme self-consciousness and have difficulty speaking in public out of fear of perceived criticism. This usually results with the mother simply staying at home to avoid people and other social situations altogether.

Physical symptoms of social anxiety include:

  • Muscle tension
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness/dizziness
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dissociation

How Much Is Too Much Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal emotion, especially for mothers who want to do well in raising their children. But to know if your anxiety is going overboard, it may help to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How long have I been feeling like this?
  • How often is it causing me great distress?
  • Is it interfering with my daily life and activities?
  • Do my loved ones think I am too anxious?
  • Are my relationships being negatively affected by anxiety?
  • Is my relationship and joy over my baby hindered by my anxiety?

What Are the Remedies for Mom Anxiety?

1. Vitamins

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Taking omega-3 vitamins may be helpful in minimizing a mother’s risk of developing postpartum anxiety and mood disorders. Studies show that a low intake of omega-3 is associated with developing postpartum depression since its stores are heavily depleted during the pregnancy.

The following foods are rich in omega-3:

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Oily fish

2. Exercise

It’s a commonly touted remedy for mood disorders, but getting your body moving can help. While new mothers don’t need to immediately run marathons, going on strolls or walks may help by offering fresh air and a change of scenery.

3. Talk Therapy

This may be a good opportunity to sort out cyclical thoughts with a trained counselor or psychiatrist who will help you reframe your perspective, set goals, and deal with other bothersome issues.

Starting your day with healthy food and exercise can help boost your mood. Check out these healthy hacks!

Remember that anxiety is normal and can come and go throughout the course of your life.

If you feel like your anxiety is elevating into an unreasonable and debilitating fear of certain situations, then it may be helpful to talk to your physician or mental health professional. Keeping yourself active and sticking to a healthy diet may also somewhat help.

Taking a Dr. Seeds Chill Pill can also be helpful in supplementing a healthy lifestyle and diet.

Have you ever experienced mom anxiety? How did you deal with it? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!

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