Tips for New Moms with Anxiety and OCD

Have you recently had a baby and are struggling with new mom anxiety? You are not alone. 85% of new moms develop some form of sadness and anxiety during the postpartum period. A common anxiety-related mental-health condition that can develop is hypochondria and OCD. Hypochondria is atypical levels of anxiety regarding one’s health or the health of loved ones, often with the unwarranted fear that one has a serious disease. This type of anxiety can trigger OCD symptoms, resulting in obsessive-compulsive behaviors such as frequent doctor visits, googling symptoms, and avoiding places or situations that could pose as dangerous or unsanitary. 

This can become problematic for you, your family members, and your baby, as children need to interact with their environments and build up their immune systems. Mothers should not be isolated for too long and should also be interacting with their environments outside of the home and with their children.

If you feel as though your quality of life is suffering because of this anxiety, here are two of the tips I provide my clients:

  1. Externalize the anxiety and OCD:

    • This is the most important step. Remind yourself that you are not anxiety and OCD. It is not a part of you that you cannot get rid of. These are external things that you have the power to let know are not welcome here right now. Just because you think and feel anxious does not mean that this is the reality. For example, just because you feel like the food you just washed is not clean does not mean that it is not clean. You just watched yourself clean them. This is the anxiety trying to trick you, not the reality of the situation.
  2. Get out of the house/Socialize:

    • Studies have shown that isolation can cause anxiety and paranoia. New moms often find themselves at home way more than they used to be, avoiding going out due to stress, time, and exhaustion. It is not uncommon to begin canceling plans regularly. Before you know it, your anxiety and OCD are telling you to keep staying inside, because the outside world is scary, unpredictable, and dirty.
    • Make it a goal to leave your house at least once a day. Every now and then staying in the neighborhood is OK, but really try to go outside your comfort zone as much as possible. Head to the store, the coffee shop, or the park.

These are just a couple of tips I provide new moms who come to see me due to hypochondria and OCD symptoms, however, I find these two tools to be the most powerful. Keep in mind that we may not be able to use these tools successfully every time we try and that is OK! Consistency is key, however. If we attempt to practice a little each day, eventually it will feel easier and more natural.

It is also important to keep in mind that if you feel as though these symptoms are not going away or continuing to get worse despite your best efforts, it may be time to reach out for extra help. Therapy combined with medication has been proven to be the most effective way to combat long-term anxiety. Whatever you decide, remember there is no shame in self-care! 


About Shelton Piland: 

Shelton is a Supervisee in Clinical Social Work and provides services at our Fredericksburg location. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a B.A. in Sociology. Shelton received her Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. Throughout her time at VCU she has worked with elementary, middle school, and high school students in the Spotsylvania Public School system. To learn more about Shelton, visit here.

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