Treatment Options for Postpartum Anxiety
Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications are often prescribed for postpartum anxiety. However, many mothers who are breastfeeding may prefer not to take medication. There are many treatment options for postpartum anxiety that don’t involve a daily medication.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that aims to change negative patterns of thinking and behavior by teaching people to identify and change distorted thoughts and to develop coping skills to manage their anxiety. It involves identifying and challenging negative thoughts, learning coping skills and relaxation techniques, and gradually exposing the person to their feared situations in a controlled way.
Zulresso: Zulresso is the first medication to be FDA-approved to treat postpartum depression. Administered via IV over 60 continuous hours, Zulresso is extremely effective in providing lasting relief for PPD symptoms and may be helpful for relieving some symptoms of anxiety as well.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): TMS is a non-invasive brain stimulation process that triggers neural activity with magnetic pulses. This treatment is FDA-approved and is used to treat a variety of conditions including depression and anxiety. Side effects of TMS can include feeling a knocking sensation or scalp sensitivity during treatment, as well as mild headache that subsides within a few hours.
Ketamine: Ketamine is a medication that is being increasingly used as a treatment for depression and anxiety. It is known for its unique ability to promote neuroplasticity and cause lasting changes in brain chemistry, which can lead to transformative change and long-term symptom relief. In 2019, the esketamine nasal spray (called Spravato) became FDA-approved. At TMS & Brain Health, we offer a range of ketamine treatment methods, including infusions, Spravato, intramuscular shots, and rapid-dissolve tablets.
Neurofeedback: Neurofeedback, or biofeedback, is a non-invasive process that uses real-time feedback to help a person learn to self-regulate their brain activity. It involves measuring brain waves using sensors placed on the scalp, and then providing feedback to the person through a visual or auditory display. The person is then able to learn to control their brain activity by making changes to their thoughts and behaviors in response to the feedback. A number of studies have shown that neurofeedback is a promising treatment option for anxiety disorders.
There are also many strategies mothers can take to reduce anxiety symptoms naturally:
- Cuddle your baby (a lot!): Giving your child physical attention releases oxytocin which can help naturally calm you.
- Spend time with other mothers: Connecting with other mothers can help to calm some worries and fears and validate your emotions.
- Increase physical activity: Although caring for a newborn is already a physically taxing job, physical activity releases hormones that can significantly reduce anxiety. Exercises that incorporate mindful breathing, such as yoga, can be especially helpful.
- Try to maximize sleep: Seek help from your partner or another caretaker to take shifts during the night to feed the baby. Sleeping in a separate room may be helpful; you should try to get at least one four-hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep every night. Be mindful of your caffeine intake.
- Ask for help: Taking care of a baby is more than a full-time job; it’s okay to get help from others, whether it be for caretaking or household chores.