MONDAY, March 4 (HealthDay News) -- Anxiety is far more common in the days after childbirth than depression, with nearly one in five new mothers reporting acute mental stress surrounding delivery and the transition to a larger family, a new study suggests.
Researchers also found that anxious new mothers were more likely to cut short breast-feeding efforts and seek out additional medical care for themselves within two weeks of delivery.
"Postpartum depression has gotten a lot more attention than anxiety ... but it's anxiety that's an acute concern and affects so many aspects of the hospital stay and postpartum course," said study author Dr. Ian Paul, a professor of pediatrics and public health sciences at the Penn State College of Medicine, in Hershey, Penn. "Childbirth tends not to be a depressing situation for a majority of women, but it is anxiety-provoking, especially for first-time moms."
The study is published online March 4 and will appear in the April print issue of the journal Pediatrics.
Paul and his colleagues evaluated more than 1,100 new mothers whose average age was 29 during their hospital stay. The researchers then followed up with phone surveys at two weeks, two months and six months after delivery to assess anxiety, depression, breast-feeding duration and health care use.
The researchers found that 17 percent of the women suffered from anxiety -- acute emotions in response to a perceived stressful, dangerous or threatening situation -- while in the hospital after childbirth. Meanwhile, 6 percent reported postpartum depression during the same time frame.
Anxiety rates later dropped markedly, hovering between 6 percent and 7 percent from two weeks to six months post-delivery. Anxiety was still reported at higher rates than depression six months after delivery, Paul said, but for most women the issue resolves on its own within wee
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