Postpartum Panic Disorder

What is postpartum panic disorder?

Postpartum panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that occurs during the perinatal period (from pregnancy through the first year after birth). Panic disorder is characterized by episodes of extreme anxiety or nervousness, or panic attacks, which come and go in waves. During a panic attack, the sufferer may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and other symptoms of anxiety. After the panic attack, there may be excessive worry about having another attack, losing control, going crazy, or dying.

What are the risk factors for postpartum panic disorder?

Risk factors include:

  • a personal or family history of anxiety
  • previous perinatal depression or anxiety
  • thyroid imbalance

What are the symptoms of Postpartum Panic Disorder?
  • Sensations of choking or smothering
  • Cold flashes
  • Trouble sleeping, insomnia
  • Panic attacks (episodes of extreme anxiety)
  • Irritability or nervousness
  • Excessive fear or worry
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hot flashes
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Inability to sit still

What is the treatment for Postpartum Panic Disorder?

Treatment plans will vary for each woman, but can include any or all of the following:

  • Self-care (including getting more sleep, eating nutritious food, help with taking care of the baby, getting more exercise & time to relax)
  • Social support (including talking to others on the phone or online and support groups)
  • Talk therapy or counseling (including cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • Medication

Who can help diagnose/treat Postpartum Panic Disorder?
  • Mental Health Practitioner
  • OB/Gyn
  • Primary Care Physician (PCP)


Reviewed By
  • Reviewed by Kimberly Langdon M.D September 2019