Postpartum anxiety: One mother’s story

SOUTHINGTON -- Postpartum anxiety and depression can be debilitating for any new mother. Southington salon owner Erin Infantino knows first-hand, after developing postpartum anxiety following the birth of her daughter.

"It felt truly like this is it, this is the end for me," said Infantino, while recounting her experiences inside her business, Simply Gorgeous by Erin.

Infantino said the symptoms began with stomach aches shortly after giving birth while still in the hospital. "I started feeling like, okay, I'm not feeling so great," Infantino recalls.

Within days, things became progressively worse. "I felt like I was dying and I was never going to come out of it ever again," said Infantino.

Infantino said she has faced anxiety throughout her life, and recognized her postpartum symptoms for what they were. She and her husband soon rushed back to the hospital to meet with crisis counselors, psychiatrists and psychologists.

In the weeks and months that followed, Erin relied on her husband and parents to care for her daughter."It grabs you," said Infantino. "It strangles you. And you feel like you cannot breathe. You feel like you're going to grind your teeth out of your head, almost."

Thanks to counseling, medication and a strong support system, Erin got better. She gives much credit to her husband, who she said essentially was a single parent in the beginning, all while showing her the empathy and compassion she needed. "He said I don't get it, but I see that you need help, and I'm going to do everything I can," Infantino recalls.

Six years later, Erin speaks candidly about her postpartum anxiety, but recognizes that many people do not want the broach the subject of mental illness because it is uncomfortable. "It's been over five years, but it still hurts," said Infantino.

She wants other moms to know that there is a way out and a better life ahead. "The world can be pretty overwhelming, but it's also a really beautiful place," said Infantino.
According to Postpartum Support International, roughly 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety. They may experience anxiety alone, or coupled with depression.

The symptoms of anxiety during or after pregnancy can include: constant worry; a feeling that something bad will happen; racing thoughts; problems with sleep and appetite; an inability to sit still; and physical symptoms such as nausea, hot flashes and dizziness.

Risk factors include a personal or family history of anxiety, previous perinatal depression or anxiety, or thyroid imbalance.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in seven women experience symptoms of depression after childbirth. Approximately 20% of mothers who experienced depression also had suicidal thoughts.

Both postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression are completely treatable. For help finding resources in your area, click here.