Insomnia – My Very First PPD Symptom

The very first sign that I was about to begin my postpartum depression (PPD) journey was a sudden development of insomnia one day six weeks after I had my baby.   One day I was fine, the next I wasn’t sleeping.  It was like my mind decided to stay on, despite the fact that I was exhausted beyond words.  Especially since I never even really had a chance to “recharge my batteries”–if you will–from my 7-day stay in the hospital after suffering from complications during delivery.  Some people may think that I developed PPD as a consequence of the trauma of having a partial hysterectomy only 3 days after having my first child and realizing I would never be able to have any other children.   Well, sure, the fact that she was going to be our only child and we had gone through a difficult IVF process (more on that in a later post) certainly didn’t help matters.  It was not, however, the only factor that caused PPD to rear its ugly head.   While I was in the hospital, the hospital staff always had to come in during the middle of the night to take my temperature and sometimes blood.  I’d be sleeping and they’d come and wake me up.  Didn’t they understand how important sleep is to a new mother?  I was never able to get a block of 4-5 hours of sleep during that dreadful week in the hospital.

After the past four years of introspection and journaling my thoughts and feelings into a book, I wholeheartedly believe it was the constantly interrupted sleep and prolonged hypervigilance that kicked off my PPD journey.  The first 1-2 months postpartum is a period in which the new mother is particularly vulnerable to stressors particularly if she doesn’t get the rest she needs to recover from childbirth.  She needs at least 4-5 hours of uninterrupted sleep a day during this time to allow her body to reach the deep sleep it needs to help her body recover.  I’m not saying this to be funny, as I realize all new parents are sleep-challenged during the first 3 months.  It’s what the subject matter experts are recommending, which is why practical (and emotional) support is important for new mothers during that time (see previous post).

For the first month, my husband and I wanted the baby to sleep in our room.  She could only sleep in her car seat, which we kept in a pack n play next to our bed, which made sense because the car seat kept her in an “in-utero” like position.  She also had to be tightly– and I mean tightly– swaddled–also to simulate the in utero experience to which she was accustomed for much of her existence up to this point.   She couldn’t sleep lying flat.  Of course, we learned all this through trial and error.   She also kept making strange animal-like sounds all night long. It’s a shame we didn’t record any of those sounds, which were like little grunts and chirps and what-not.  Anyway, every little sound she made startled me awake, while my husband slept through it all out of sheer exhaustion. After all, we had gone through hell in the hospital and he was just about as sleep deprived as I was.   A natural concern for my baby’s health and fearing SIDS probably contributed to my hypervigilant state (though I understand this is a relatively common phenomenon among new mothers).  We eventually had no choice but to move her into her room so I could sleep better.

When the baby was 36 days old, she developed what seemed to be colic.  She’d cry non-stop for hours at a time, sometimes after 5:00PM, sometimes starting from 8:00PM.  One day that week she didn’t stop crying until 4:00AM.  It was the scariest experience, not knowing what was wrong with her…what was causing her to cry non-stop like that.  We wanted to comfort her, but nothing we did would stop the crying.  We had heard some horror stories of babies crying non-stop for 15 hours at a stretch for months.  We thought we were doomed to the same experience.

Exactly one week later,  just as suddenly as her colic started, it stopped.  Of course, we weren’t sure when/if the colic would return.  So I guess you could say we were both quite wary from the time the sun went down and all through the night.  Just as with everything in life, there’s always a negative where there is a positive.  The colic stopped, so we both thought things could go back to normal.  I would get up for the late night feedings so that my husband could go to work.  Turns out, things wouldn’t work out the way we planned.

Two days later–or the 45th day (or about 6-1/2 weeks) postpartum– my insomnia started from out of the blue.  I couldn’t fall asleep until after 3:00 AM.  In fact, I wasn’t sure whether I slept at all.  It certainly didn’ feel like it.   I didn’t know why this was happening.  Perhaps I was waiting for the baby to cry.  I thought it was a matter of calming down, telling myself that the baby’s colic was gone and probably would not return.  I should relax.  Other mothers were telling me that they were always in a state of shallow sleep and jump at the slightest wimper from their babies.  I was like, great…..I’ve got a lot to look forward to.

I’ve never not been able to fall asleep before.   It’s painful for me to reflect back on those days of not being able to fall asleep all night, tossing and turning, knowing that everyone else is asleep, looking at the clock as the time to get up and feed the baby approached, and seeing the sun come up–all the while knowing that this all didn’t make any sense because, after all, I was exhausted beyond words.  At one point, I got less than 9 hours of sleep over 3 days.  My fear was I’d be physically and mentally impaired from not getting any sleep for so many days in a row that I wouldn’t be able to take care of the baby.  I just wanted to tear my hair out.  I wanted to go screaming into the night, running until I reached a point of exhaustion and just pass out.  I couldn’t endure all those hours of tossing and turning any longer.  The feeling of loneliness was so overwhelming and almost too much to bear.  I was desperate for company, for someone to comfort me and help me overcome this dreadful condition.  I couldn’t expect my husband to keep me company much because he had to go to work early in the AM and had a long day of work, so he needed his sleep.  I only woke him up when I felt I was at the end of my rope.

It didn’t help that every time a friend/relative asked me how I was doing, I’d tell them exactly what was going on….with the insomnia and all.  And each time, I would get this look and a wave of the hand and the comment:  “You’re a new mother….new mothers never get any sleep.  But you should definitely sleep whenever the baby sleeps.”  And I’d say the same thing over and over again…..I wish I could sleep when the baby sleeps, but I can’t.”  Then I’d get the same response:  “Just try harder…..put your feet up, lay back and you’ll fall asleep….all you need to do is relax.”  To which I’d say:  “You just don’t understand.  The baby’s been sleeping through the night since she was 2 months old, which is great.  But I will lie there all night, tossing and turning until the sun comes up, arms numb and cold, heart beating fast/palpitating – all of which is, needless to say, disconcerting.  How can I take care of the baby when I can’t get any sleep at all?”  Then infuriatingly, they’d say:  “Just take a nap during the afternoon, when the baby sleeps.”  Then I’d end the conversation (because I would’ve had enough at that point):  “You don’t get it….I can’t nap.  I can’t sleep, even if I wanted to and even if the baby sleeps.  She sleeps fine.  I have INSOMNIA.”  Telling them that was just about as easy as telling them that I had PPD.  You could see from the look on their face that they still didn’t get it, even though they’d nod to give the the appearance of understanding.

I didn’t know anyone who’s had insomnia, so I never had the support I needed to get me through those dark days.  All I needed was some understanding and reassurance that I wasn’t losing my mind.   My doctors were no help in that respect.  NO HELP AT ALL.  My husband tried to comfort me, but of course, he had no way of knowing what it was like and how scared I was.  I think this was the only time in my life in which I felt so scared and helpless.  All other times in my life, I had some amount of control whether it was a problem at school, problem at home, problem at work, nastier-than-hell fight with a boyfriend, or illness (there was always a cure, like medicine for my recurring bouts of bronchitis and colds throughout the year, or major surgery to remove my dermoid cyst).

Had I read all the books that I’ve been reading these past 4 years BEFORE my PPD journey began, I probably could have avoided the panic attacks that developed 1-2 weeks later (more on this in a later post).  The books all say that insomnia–the inability to fall asleep and/or stay asleep EVEN IF the baby is sleeping– is one of the first symptoms of PPD, especially if it occurs beyond the 3rd week postpartum.  Had I known what I know now, instead of simply taking the Ambien that was prescribed to me by my OB/GYN, I would’ve insisted that he screen me for PPD.  Ultimately, after the insomnia spiraled into panic attacks and the Ambien started to lose its effect, I had to find a GP (this is the one I referred to in an earlier post) who prescribed Paxil and Xanax (I was still on Ambien at the same time).    Thankfully, within a month I was sleeping without the Ambien.  Such a relief that I was not dependent on Ambien as I feared I’d be for the long haul!

There is a tremendous difference between sleep deprivation–which ALL parents experience in the first 3 months–and insomnia which is not being able to fall asleep and/or not being able to stay asleep, even when the baby sleeps. Insomnia can be caused by a fear of falling asleep because something bad will happen if you do, or a constant state of anxiety with busy thoughts and worries that keep you running on high energy like the Energizer ® rabbit that keeps going and going and going. I suppose after 4 weeks of constantly interrupted sleep and such a state of extended hypervigilance–both of which my body was unaccustomed to–were enough to turn on the insomnia switch.   I read that adrenaline, which is produced by the adrenal glands during stress, can increase the body’s fight or flight response, and persistent high levels of adrenaline can cause palpitations, insomnia and anxiety or panic attacks.     I also read that an extended period of sleep deprivation and/or constantly interrupted sleep is a form of torture used on POWs to extract information from them.  Not that I’m trying to draw an analogy here to my first motherhood experience as torture.  It wasn’t.  It was just that my body was not used to enduring sleep deprivation and high levels of  anxiety over an extended period of time, without fully allowing my body to relax and recover from childbirth and all the drastic hormonal changes that went along with it.

When I was well on my road to recovery, I asked my GP and OB/GYN (and staff) why they didn’t think I had PPD even though I had some of the symptoms (e.g., insomnia and extreme anxiety), they said I didn’t exhibit the typical signs of PPD and I didn’t communicate my problems sufficiently to them.  Well, hello….but why do I, the patient, need to tell the healthcare professional that insomnia lasting beyond the 4th postpartum week should act as a telltale indication for PPD?  Symptoms persisting beyond the 3rd-4th week is no longer the baby blues.  Crying, the trademark of baby blues, is not necessarily a primary symptom for those suffering PPD.  It certainly wasn’t for me.  If they had asked me to describe my symptoms and better yet, if they knew enough about PPD to put one and two together, they would have diagnosed me then instead of starting me on a painful voyage seeking answers, compassion and treatment.

Here’s my advice to you if you are experiencing insomnia and you are beyond 3 weeks pospartum:

  • Seek medical help before it has a chance to spiral into something worse.  Don’t just take Ambien or some other sleep aid, and leave it at that.  Ask your doctor if he/she has experience treating PPD.  If he/she doesn’t but you’d prefer to stick with this doctor, tell him/her he/she needs to screen you for PPD and reach out to Postpartum Support International for information/resources.   You always have the option to find a psychiatrist who can screen you for PPD, provide you with a listening ear and advice, and prescribe any medications as necessary.  If this is your first time experiencing a mood disorder, don’t be afraid to seek therapy.  What matters is you must do what it takes to get well.  Certain PPD patients do well with a combination of medication–especially if they are very symptomatic and need treatment for their symptoms before therapy can be beneficial–and therapy.
  • Be honest about all your symptoms when talking to your doctor. Leaving out key details will only impede your recovery.
  • Ask all the questions you feel you need to ask.  No question is a stupid question when you are a patient.  If your doctor doesn’t give you the opportunity to ask questions, rushing off before you’ve had a chance to ask any, that’s a sign you need to ditch that doctor.  Doctors are paid to provide you with the care that you need and deserve, which includes consultation about your diagnosis and treatment.

Remember this:  You need sleep to stay healthy and to be able to take care of your baby day in and day out. I had it bad and I wouldn’t want you to go through what I went through.  You’d think that sleep deprivation would cause exhaustion which would cause you to fall asleep readily and at first opportunity. That couldn’t be further from the truth for me.  With insomnia, I couldn’t fall asleep even when the baby was sleeping. I couldn’t nap during the day, even with someone taking care of the baby for a few hours.

349 thoughts on “Insomnia – My Very First PPD Symptom

    • Hi,
      I just realized I never responded to this…I’m so sorry! January was a really lousy month, work-wise!
      Did you have a baby recently, and if so, how long ago? Have you been seeing a doctor? You don’t really have to “wean” off of Ambien, per se, the way you would need to wean off of an antidepressant like Paxil. If it weren’t for the combo of meds my doctor put me on, I may not have been able to get off of Ambien so easily. My doctor started me on 12.5 mg of Paxil for a week after which he doubled the dosage to 25 mg. I stayed on Paxil for about a year altogether. I was also on Xanax for the first couple of weeks to help keep my panic attacks under control. The Paxil pretty much kicked in for me one month after I started taking it, and i was able to stop taking Ambien, sleep, and even return to work at that point. The Paxil dosage was halved within six months and it took me another six months to completely wean off the Paxil. Please note that different people’s biochemistry/ situation is different so the way one reacts to medications will be different. Some will be on meds for a shorter or longer timeframe.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions!

  1. Hi Jessica,
    Would you be willing to email with me privately re trazodone? I would love perspective. I have been on it for a couple months and would love insight re how long it took you to wean off etc. Thank you.

  2. Omg. Other than some minor differences, I could have written this myself. Since my experience (and thank god I am back to normal) I am super sensitive to anyone with a sleep issue.

    I hope your story helps others. Once I stumbled upon Ivys blog I knew I needed medical attention Stat and best decision I ever made.

  3. Hi Ivy,
    I have been having trouble sleeping and was put on 100 mg trazodone. I would like to exchange a private e-mail with you if you do not mind. Can you shoot me an e-mail when you get a chance. I love your honesty and would love your insight. Thank you.

  4. Hi Ivy,
    I have just started suffering from insomnia. It starts with me concerned about sleep. I had to get up to breastfeed my baby 2-3 times during the night. When it was done, I was desperate to fall asleep. However, this deseparation made it harder to fall asleep. When I can’t fall asleep, I got more obessed and concerned abuy sleep. I was anxious during the day about falling asleep, which only worsened things. Three nights ago, I woke in the night after sleeping only for two hours, before the baby. I knew it was a sign of sleep disorder. Two nights ago, I fell asleep at 3am, awakened by my baby at 6, but could fall asleep again and slept to 11. Last night, I couldn’t sleep at all. I drifted off a little, but not asleep. I only slept a bit from 7 to 9 this morning. It makes me so concerned and anxious. I’ve made an appoinment with the doctor. Im so anxious that I can never sleep again. Also I feel guilty, because medication means no breastfeeding(according to my doctor). Im also anxious about the side effects of the medicine. Did you experience any?

    • Dear Annie, I am glad you found my blog and hope it makes you feel less alone and realize you will recover and it’s how early you get the right help that makes a huge difference in recovery. I am glad you are seeing your doctor. Like you I felt guilt about taking meds which I chose to stop in order to get well. If I find info about the safety of antidepressants while breastfeeding I will send that along to you. The only side effect I had was in the first few weeks I felt a little zoned out but that could very well have been a symptom of my PPD or the meds or both. If you’d like I can stay in email contact with you as I have your email address. Stay strong.

      • Thank you so much ivy.
        This thing is making me depressed and anxious. Before the birth of my baby I was such a happy and carefree person. Right now I feel my emotions are out of control. It’s so painful to know tonight when everyone is sleeping, i’ll be staring in the dark. I’m also telling myself, it’s just some days, I can very well endure that. I’ll get help and sleep again very soon. But when night comes, I know how lonely I’ll feel. Like the only person left in the dark world while everyone else is some place else.
        I find you so nice and supportive. My boyfriend tried to support me, but he doesn’t really understand, sometimes I feel he is blaming me.
        I would love to talk to you on email

        • I will send you an email as soon as I can. Lisa is offering to exchange emails with you. When I email you I can provide you her email address for additional support if you’d like.

          Let me know…

        • Hi Annie,

          I know exactly how you feel! You are not alone. I suffered for over 15 months before finding the right help. I tried all these natural remedies of acupuncture, herbs, supplements but nothing worked until I Was in antidepressants. Every night, I wanted to die. All the world was at rest and peace and I was tossing around in anger and anxiety. During that time, I began to pray and read my Bible more. God walked me through every step. I was on meds for over a year and now have weaned off them for about 6 months. I still have some trouble sleeping from time to time. But nothing like it was before. I was literally sleeping 30 min a night to 3 hours. I was miserable. Now I get 6-7 hours. There is hope. You’re not alone!

          • Hi Jessica,
            Thanks for chiming in on this thread and for your support for Annie! It is so great to hear that you are doing well!!! It’s been about 1-1/2 years since we last exchanged emails. Did Andrea or anyone else I might have mentioned to you from your area provide any referrals that ultimately got you the help you needed? Or was it your own GP that prescribed the meds? Do you mind telling us what meds you took?

          • Thanks. You give me hope. Did sleeping pills ever make you feel bad? I’m sometimes anxious about the feeling it might give me, but the knowledge of can take it keeps me sane on a sleepless night.

            • You know, reaching out to the ppd hotline was not very helpful for me. They recommended one person and she doesn’t accept most insurance. I ended up going to my gp, asked for a depression screening, then referred to the mental health specialist from there. I was on lexapro in the morning and trazodone in the evening. I was so scared to be addicted and unable to wean. I was skeptical about its effectiveness too since nothing had helped me. But it got me feeling sane again and combined with counseling, I was able to wean off when I felt more confident. I struggle with sleepless nights a few times a month, but trying to stay positive and not think that it will funnel down into deep depression again. I notice when I get anxious about sleeping, that’s when I have the most trouble. I still keep melatonin on hand and take that occasionally too. I think it will be a road with valleys and mountains , but take it one step at a time. Also that you can find help ASAP. Not 15 months of suffering like me.

              • Hi Jessica,
                Would you be willing to email with me privately re trazodone? I would love perspective. I have been on it for a couple months and would love insight re how long it took you to wean off etc. Thank you.

        • Hey. I would be more than happy to talk to you as well. I went thru this as well. Everyone kept telling me I had postpartum. I was trying not to go the Meds route. I finally went to Seleni institute in NYC and the psych there agreed I wasn’t depressed. She prescribed an anti anxiety and a sleep med. I did stop breastfeeding but my life changed completely and I began to enjoy my daughter. Life was better for all of us. Turns out I only took the anti anxiety as needed and did it on and off for a year. My daughter is now 14 mos and just having The pill by my side made me 1000% better. I barely used the sleep med. the anti anxiety didn’t make me groggy so I was able to wake up if my daughter did. Remember this will get better. I remember feeling this was how my life would forever be and I was stuck on a cycle.

          • Hi Lisa,
            Thanks for chiming in on this thread and for your support for Annie! It is good to hear from you and to see that you are doing well! I see that you did get help from Seleni. Would you be interested in sharing your experience on a future blog post? If interested, I can reach out to you via email to discuss further. Would you be willing to share which anti-anxiety and sleep med helped you?

          • Hey lisa
            I feel my anxiety comes in bouts. Sometimes nothing, sometimes makes my heart racing and hard to breathe( my anxiety is mainly about sleep), in a viscious cycle, anxiety makes even harder to sleep. This makes me confused. Don’t know if I’m really sick and need medicine.

  5. Hi Rosa,
    I wanted to share my story, in case it can help you or anyone else. My post partum insomnia started 6 weeks after 2nd daughter was born. After 3 months of trying everything holistic (acupuncture, herbs, supplements, etc etc etc), I finally went on a benzo and Zoloft. Eventually my sleep got back to normal and I weened off the Zoloft. However, after 6 months being off the Zoloft, my insomnia came back after getting very upset one night. It was as though a light turned on. After my relapse, I contemplated going back on Zoloft (but just wasn’t convinced it was for me). The reason why I wasn’t convinced the Zoloft was for me is because once I started sleeping again with the benzos, I was a happy camper. I didn’t have any other symptoms, such as depression or anxiety. All I really needed was sleep! So this time around, I got my medical cannibus card and tried edible cannibus. My very holistic girlfriend has been using cannibus for her sleep disorder for 20+ years, never had to up the dosage, and has always worked. She’s done a ton of research and so have I. I used very little amount and it fixed my problem within a month. Cannibus is legal now in California. I am recommending this because you had mentioned that you stopped BF.

    • Hi Wendy,
      Very interesting, but is cannibus addicting? Your friend has had to take it for over 20 yrs…wow, that’s a long time. And she takes it every day or only when needed? I just want to assure Rosa and others that your friend’s case is likely a very extreme one and cannibus is not for everyone.

      I gather it’s working for you too, and hope you only need to take it for a short period of time until you get the sleep you need. Also curious is whether you’ve had a history of mood disorder such as depression or anxiety? Have you ever had insomnia before you had your baby?

      I also want to note that it took me a few years before my body returned to the way it was before my pregnancy and postpartum depression. I was prone to bad allergic reactions (I had huge hive welts in the months after I had my baby that sometimes landed me in the ER), my triglycerides were very elevated, I had to see a chiropractor to resolve my back and hand/arm numbness issues….just to name a few ways in which my body was physiologically thrown out of wack. For some moms who went through traumatic childbirth and/or PPD, it may take a couple of years for the body to return to its prebirth neurochemistry. What has helped some moms is seeing a mental health practitioner to talk through things, or even join a support group for moms. For others, meditation/yoga have helped.

  6. Hi Ivy I am going through the same thing you were going through it all started after I stopped breastfeeding my baby was 7 months old.I have tried different teas and remedies but they haven’t worked I feel desperate I was hesitant to go to the Dr. and get prescription medication but your post has given me hope!!! Can you help me find some resources I live in the Los Angeles area thank you so much!! Can I have your email so I can email you directly

      • Thank you Ivy I responded by email because I couldn’t find the blog until now! Your support is greatly appreciated!!

    • Hi Rosa,
      I also suffered insomnia after weaning from breastfeeding. I tried everything I could from acupuncture and Chinese herbs to ambien and hormone supplements. Nothing worked. I suffered for over a year. It was horrendous. I am in the LA area and went to see dr. Barry Blum of Huntington health physicians. His number is 6267922166 and he got me on lexapro and trazodone which helped in a few days and weeks. Weaning off them now. Sorry you’re suffering through this too

      • Thanks, Jessica, for the info and trying to help Rosa! If Rosa would like to get in touch with you, may I share your email w/her?

        Rosa, please try to reach out to Dr Blum. I’ll still send you some other contacts after I get home. It’s always better to have a few options, just on case.

      • Thank you Jessica for sharing your story with me…I honestly thought I was alone until I found this blog!! I have my families support but they couldn’t undertand why nothing was working for me! Your support is greatly appreciated. I may not know you and Ivy personally but I can tell you that I feel a connection… ..I got the courage to see my doctor yesterday and he perscribed me trazodone I was able to sleep last night! I am feeling hopefull that I can go back to sleeping and continuing on with my normal life!! I will keep the doctors information that you recommended handy!

    • Hi, yes, I’m cured….I suffered from PPD within 6 weeks of my daughter’s birth, and after getting on a right combination of meds to address my insomnia and panic attacks (Paxil and Xanax), I was able to return to work by the end of my 3-month leave. I had to stay on Paxil for a total of about a year. Have you seen a doctor and/or therapist, and if not, please do so right away. If you need me to find you some local help, please let me know what city you live close to. Hang in there.

        • Have you been to a doctor yet? You can call Ann Smith, the NYC area coordinator for Postpartum Support International. Her cell # is 917-207-0254 and she can be reached 8 am-10 pm. A great place to go for help is Seleni (

          • Funny you mention Seleni. My therapist recommended them. I saw a psychologist there once and then few days later (unrelated) I slept an entire week and thought I was cured. I was doing everything in my power to not go on meds. I guess I may have to suck it up. I was hoping once I stop Breastfeeding which I’m gearing For my hormones would level out. I have a call into seleni.
            Right now I’m hoping for sleep tonight. Just took a unisom and am taking hot bath. Thanks for your story. I really felt like I was going nuts and no one could relate.

            • If your insomnia continues, please make the appt to see someone at Seleni as soon as possible. I wouldn’t want to see the insomnia spiral into something worse, like the panic attacks that scared the crap out of me and made me feel like I was losing my mind. It didn’t help that, at the time I was going through all this, I had ZERO resources. No Facebook, no blogs, no one who understood. I didn’t know what in the world was wrong w/me.

  7. Dear Ivy, thank you so much for taking the time to write this post and for still responding to new comments all these years later. I’m in the throes of severe PP insomnia myself right now, and your story mirrors my experience almost word for word. I’ve just emailed the link to this post to my post partum counsellor and told her that I want to revisit the option that I do have PPD.

    My story is as follows: I slept like a baby all my life, and had no problems throughout pregnancy. I was induced at 37+4 and after 48 hours of labor gave birth to a baby girl. She was taken to NICU straight away for not recovering properly, and I did not get to see her until I was fully stitched, fed and showered – hours later. She was in NICU for two days and then came home with us, seemingly healthy. Unfortunately she became extremely jaundiced and so two days later we were back in the hospital again, where we stayed another three days. In addition to going back and forth between hospitals and home in that first week I also had to pump every three hours to get my milk to come in because it wasn’t doing so on its own. After ten days I had to give that up and opt for bottle feeding.

    Around the same time we gave up trying to co-sleep because my daughter was a very loud sleeper and every squeak she made gave me a full-blown fight or flight response, adrenaline rushing and heart racing. Moving her to her own room made things temporarily better but I was still hypervigilant and what sounds I could still hear kept driving me insane. And then, fairly suddenly, around 4 weeks postpartum, insomnia set in. I did not sleep at all for several nights in a row and started fantasizing about slamming my head into a wall so hard it would knock me out. That’s when I went to my GP, who first put me on temazepam. Unfortunately that only helped me get to sleep but not to stay asleep. Then he put me on seroquel, and that does work although I’ve had to go up in dosage a little because after a while my anxiety became worse and won out over the sedative effect.

    Like yours, my baby is a fantastic sleeper. She naps beautifully during the day and now, at three months, sleeps between 10 and 12 hours every night. But without medication I am up, invariably, waiting for any sounds that may indicate she has broken her weeks-long spell of sleeping through the night and is about to start waking up every 45 minutes (I have read that some babies do this, and I am terrified this will happen to my baby too). Having struggled with insomnia for two months now, my anxiety is worsened by obsessive thoughts about going to sleep, what if I can’t, I can’t handle another sleepless night, what if it never gets better, etc etc.

    I have seen a number of healthcare professionals about this and have brought up the possibility of PPD with them. They have all dismissed it. And it is true that I am not depressed in general, I have no thoughts about harming myself and I adore my baby girl. It is only the anxiety, the obession with my daughter’s sleep patterns, and the insomnia.

    I am terrified it will never get better. That I will never be able to fall into bed and just sleep, the way I used to. That I will spend the rest of my life tired, woozy, sluggish from either no sleep or sleep medication. That I will never wake up rested and excited about the day again.

    Having read your story, I have a little bit of hope that maybe I will get through this. At the very least I know that I should really have the option of PPD looked at again. Thank you again.

    • Dear Anna,
      Thank you for taking the time to leave this comment on my blog! I am so glad you found my blog…just wish you would’ve done so earlier, so you would’ve struggled less with your insomnia by knowing that you are not alone. I would’ve loved to have reached out to these doctors, or given you the resources to give to them, to educate them on perinatal mood disorders. I am very glad you forwarded on my blog post to your postpartum counselor. As a postpartum counselor, she had to have seen other mothers go through something similar, given the relatively high rate of postpartum mood disorders occurring in approx 1 out of 7 mothers.

      Your symptoms and the timing sound very similar to mine. It’s really a shame that doctors are not educated on perinatal mood disorders and only know to treat symptoms. Even if they don’t have expertise, at minimum they should know how to recognize that there is a perinatal mood disorder and to refer you to someone who can better treat your condition. I am not familiar with temazepam, and I have heard of other mothers being treated with seroquel. I’m not sure if you saw the first of my ongoing postpartum insomnia series by Mrs. J: Mrs. J is now recovered….just as you will recover, as long as you can get on track with the right medical professional and right treatment for you. She was on Zoloft (an SSRI) and Seroquel. And as you know, I was on Paxil (an SSRI) and Xanax (a benzodiazepine to work on my anxiety before the SSRI kicks in, because it can take a couple of weeks). Everyone’s circumstances are different, just as everyone’s neurochemistry is different. As such, it takes a different combination of medications to work on the physical symptoms experienced. Sometimes, it goes beyond medication to recover fully. For some, treatment of symptoms is not enough and CBT is needed to help with any underlying emotional/mental condition that is preventing the medication from truly being effective.

      I thought I would never be able to sleep again. I have been able to sleep very well since I fully recovered from my PPD. My daughter is 11 now and I’ve been able to sleep in on weekends for 9-10 hours for several years now. I thought I would never recover. I did recover. I know you will recover, as long as you can get on track with the right treatment. If you would like me to email you privately going forward, just let me know. If you would like me to help you find someone local to help, pls let me know what area you live in/close to.


      • Dear Ivy, thank you for your kind and thoughtful response. I thought I would update through your blog because I found it tremendously helpful to see updates in the comments from other women who went through the same thing, including miss J.

        I spoke to my GP yesterday about starting an SSRI and he put me on Zoloft 50mg. He did not feel comfortable switching me over from Seroquel to Trazodone for sleep because the latter is an antidepressant too, and he felt the Zoloft-Trazodone combo would be too much. However, I noticed many of your commenters did go on that combination and I found a study on Pubmed that showed Trazodone to be more effective than Seroquel in terms of generating sleep, so I have a telephone consult with a psychiatrist next week to ask if they feel it would be okay to switch. If so, they will let my GP know and I will switch.

        I also asked to be put on the pill just to level out my hormones a bit. I don’t know if that will do anything, but better safe than sorry and I needed birth control anyway. I will start taking it as soon as I get my next period.

        For now, I started the Zoloft this morning and slept alright last night on 37.5 mg of Seroquel. The stuff gives me terrible brain fog so I am quite woozy, but relatively well-rested and mildly hopeful that the Zoloft will turn out to be the answer. I will keep you posted!

        • Hi Anna,
          You sound like you are heading on the right track, thanks to how informed you are from reading up on things that have worked for other moms with similar experiences, taking matters into your own hands, and consulting with your GP and a psychiatrist. Please do keep me posted!

  8. Hello Ivy. I think I found your blog years ago but it is funny to find it again and a little sad to realize that I’m in the same place. My insomnia started six years ago with the birth of my second son and over the last six years we have been in and out of every doctor… At least 20… And tried every type of medication. The antidepressants, the benzodiazepines, and the antipsychotics and everything else in between. Last year insomnia took over our whole year and then we found ourselves pregnant with my fourth child at the end of the year. I obviously struggled with insomnia throughout the pregnancy because I am so prone to it now. I did have the baby three weeks ago and experienced a dramatic birth and then a late postpartum hemorrhage afterwards. So, I know that my body and mind are going through a lot but this last week the insomnia has taken over again. Fortunately, because I have lived through this for six years I know that I will come through it and have brighter days but unfortunately, after trying so many things I do not know that I will ever actually overcome it. My question for you and the previous commenter is about breast-feeding. It seems that most of your commenters probably quit breast-feeding in order to take medication? I will do anything to feel better… Stand on my head smoke things, whatever, but I really have enjoyed breast-feeding as it is the only thing that makes me feel normal. Do you know that anyone who has recovered has continued to take medication and breast-feed or am I asking too much? I have always thought that I would start a blog like this or somehow use my experience to help other people. But I have not recovered yet to be able to do that but I am so happy that you did. This is a God send to many people and the most important piece of feeling better is feeling like some One else has walked this road before. So thank you!

    • Hi Betsy, I am glad you’ve found my blog once again. Congratulations on your new baby! Some moms continue their meds and some discontinue. Depends on factors such as the severity of the postpartum illness. There are some meds that research has shown is safe to take while breastfeeding. It also depends on whether you want to eliminate risk of meds going through breast milk to the baby. For me, I wanted to eliminate that risk, and I was also suffering from completely debilitating symptoms that pretty much rendered me a shell of a person, unable to think/function. You mention you’ve been on antidepressants, benzo’s and antipsychotics. None of them ever worked to cure your postpartum illnesses at all? You’ve been dealing with ongoing insomnia for 6 years?! Do you need me to find someone for you that you can consult with on this?

      • Ivy, Yes. On and off for 6 years. Probably half of the time I have been my normal self but I have still always had the fear of sleep so I have not slept in my bed in years and I have all of these funky sleep things I have to do (almost OCD) in order to get sleep. I have never fully made it past 7 weeks on an SSRI so I can’t say I have fully tried but I have tried all 5 of them, and older ones. Currently I take ambien and often xanax just at night and almost like a vitamin). I do have days where I am a shell of a person and I can not care for myself or my 4 children. But then I will get 4 hours of medicated sleep and be so relieved that I will live my life mostly normally.
        I have had some docs say its anxiety and some say it is just anxiety about sleep. To me – at this point – I really don’t care what its called….I just would love to have a thought that I may actually be able to move forward.
        It is very hormonal for me as it seems to “turn on” during hormone flunctuations over the last 6 years whether I am pregnant or nursing or beginning a cycle.

        Anyway, at this point I just don’t trust anyone. I live in a big city with lots of access to health care but I have yet in 6 years to be able to trust a doctor enough to stick with them – and I have had those horrendous nights where I try something “new” and feel drugged all night but not asleep and this perpetuates the fear and lack of trust. I have scoured the internet for an excellent CBT therapist (CBT for insomnia would be great) but there doesn’t seem to be many – and if so they aren’t accepting clients.

        I read your blog and the commenters and I feel for them because while I have endured this much longer than anyone I know – I have endured it so I am not in that heightened place of panic to try to fix it. I have accepted it more so and I just know I will sleep whether it takes 2 nights or 6 (and by 6 on less than an hour of sleep a night – it is like a funeral at our home). But I would love to actually have hope that I don’t have to accept this any longer.

        We’ll see how it goes. I have a new psych appt this Thursday and I pray that by then I can trust what she says. Its hard to go into it open minded when I have dealt with this since 2010. I know too much….all the side effects, half lives, benefits, brand names, etc….way too much info and none of it that has actually benefited me!

        Anyone reading…..give yourself grace to not feel well and know there are so so so few people who understand. Fortunately, you don’t die after a week or 6 years of poor (or non existent) sleep. Maybe unfortunately? Hope is the only thing you have….and the ability to take each day one hour at the time. Thank you Ivy. I would love to see women freed from the “shoulds” and “musts” of life. That would eliminate half of the anxiety!

        So yes – if you have other contacts in the South east let me know or you can email me for my location. Thank you!!

        • Hi Betsy,
          I hope all goes well with your psych apt this Thursday. I truly hope you will ultimately get the help you need so you don’t have to deal with, or even accept, that you will be struggling with sleep as a norm. You deserve to be well. I will send you an email, as I’d like to know whereabouts you live so I can try to find someone local who has the expertise that can help you. I also have a mom who would like to reach out to you. She saw your comments and wants to discuss with you.

  9. Hi Ivy, first of all I want to thank you for making this blog. I read and reread your blog for reassurance when I was in the midst of my postpartum insomnia about three months ago. My story is a lot like yours. Skyrocketing anxiety (not enough milk supply for my baby, concern about SIDS, questioning my ability as a mom) triggers the insomnia. Then worry about not being able to sleep makes it all the more difficult to fall asleep and that created a vicious cycle. My OB/GYN was no help, prescribed me trazodone and hoped that I would be ok by the time the prescription ran out. My primary care physician was more sympathetic and more helpful. He prescribed Xanax for short term relief and Celexa (some kind of SSRI too) for long-term action plan. This combo helped my nerves to calm down and I was able to sleep, albeit still very nervous kind of sleep. I requested my doctor to increase the celexa dose from 20 mg to 30 mg when I noticed that I could not sleep every third night after two good nights. 30 mg of Celexa worked really well for me for about 3 weeks, until one Sunday I had too long a nap and I couldn’t fall asleep that night. The worries came back and surely enough I could not fall asleep the next night. I realized I could not ask for dosage increase every time I have a bad night. Asking for sleeping pill would probably make the situation worse.I know I have to deal with it through some psychological, behavioral approach. I searched Amazon for a good book regarding that subject, and I found, The Insomnia Answer, by Paul Glovinski, Ph.D. and Arthur Spielman, Ph.D. One of the moms that replied to your thread mentioned about Sleep Restriction Therapy. Arthur Spielman is the professor that came up with that therapy and it becomes a must-have part for any cognitive behavioral therapy for Insomnia. The writing was excellent. It helps me to understand how sleep is supposed to happen, how Insomnia happens, and how it may become chronic. The questionnaires helped me to think more objectively about the situation and the behavioral approach is doable and manageable. The medication, the book, and the support of my family has gotten me through this rough patch. Your blog especially helps me to know during that dark time, that there is a survivor out there, that many moms went through it too, and that I was not alone.

    • Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment on my blog about your experience. It sounds like you have a pretty good grasp of the situation and you are on the fast track to recovery. It definitely helps having a good understanding of what is happening to you and why. Knowledge keeps fear at bay, which means lower anxiety. I am glad that you’ve found my blog helpful. Please keep me posted on your recovery.

  10. Hi everyone, (present and future)

    Like others it was nice to read others stories, and not think you are suffering alone, or there is no hope. My daughter was born May 20th this year so I’m still very much feeling like I’m in the woods. I’m sure most of these problems started in my pregnancy, I had a painful back and hip issues that slowly began to make my nights a miserable place of pain and lack of rest, I don’t know if it was insomnia then but maybe the seeds of starting to really dislike my nights. I also have a one year old (14 months apart from his sister. Caring for him through pregnancy was exhausting) I live in a northern climate and I do think a lack of sunlight played into my mood but silly me being a Chem phone for my baby didn’t reach out about my sadness, I got a light box for therapy and thought hey call it good.

    The real beginning in what seems like has been and is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure, was in the hospital. I received little to no rest after the birth. I’m a terrible light sleeper and have ridiculous trouble sleeping anywhere but my own bed, like a strange place is another reason to keep your brain turned on. But the second night after the birth when I did fall to sleep I had an awful nightmare shortly after leaving me in a great panic. (I am still suffering from these) the nurses talked me down and the next day I was given Zoloft and ambien and sent home. I wouldn’t say at first my care wasn’t adequate just that I was an extreme case. Next came the hardest two weeks of my life, the lowest I’ve ever been. All behind it really I think the key orchestrator Insomnia. (Yes that thing other people don’t think is serious or real) I was sweating profusely daily in a insane place of panic, not understanding what my body and mind was doing and if I even had any control. I ended up in the ER twice, both times being placed on ativan. All the while nothing given could make me sleep. I really gave into deep despair, and admitted myself to the hospital at the end of week not trusting myself. I really didn’t know what I had signed up for. Maybe thinking it was going to be a hospital bed Hilton style where they fed you magic restful sleep med though an IV and two to three days later after some sleep you thought you could regain your sanity. But for most people if you know unlike me a behavioral health unit is not like that. I understand it’s purpose but it was a terrifying experience for me and really the total opposite of what I needed. I spent my time there in panic thinking I’d never rest or sleep. I was discharged 24 hours later, finally after two weeks speaking to a psychiatrist. He didn’t believe I had PPD just that I was a new mom. I was prescribed seroquel and trazodone. I tried these solutions but they for the next week didn’t work (and this really scared me) the biggest thing I’ll remember thinking was I have no place to go and how scary that was. Other then behavioral health and that to me was such a sterile environment where they gave you the same pills at home that duh duh duh, may not work. So yes at this point my panic and anxiety were in full swing. I thought I’d have to perhaps try a rehab facility. All the while so very frustrated thinking where do post partum women go. And thinking yes this panic of being ignored by doctors and feeling like you can’t fix a problem on your own could force one into suicidal thought. But there was my real breaking point, I made one final trip to my OB and fell apart after week two. I know she was deeply concerned the on call psychiatrist gave me the max script there is for seroquel and I think I just new this was where it was I had to start there and just hope it was a solution. I took it and continue to take it in hopes of what feels like now a small miracle sleep. In no way did I want to trust a medication and oh yes after so much part of me was scared there was no medication that could reverse my crisis but there was and now I am sure a month later seroquel saved my life and continues to do so. Nothing else has worked. Any other flirtation with another medication has meant a night of no sleep. I being Mrs type A was terrified of this drugs side effects or addiction, (sometimes I think our modern ability to research is such an awful panic inducing rabbit hole, that i wish we didnt have it) but I’ve really just had to accept the benefit has outweighed the risk. I really really hope someday to not be taking this to sleep but don’t know when that will be. We all imagine these peaceful resolved futures right when the present has such sharp teeth. I have taking less medication sometimes out of an “early want to be done” but have paid the price everytime. So I do know tapering has to be gradual and rated by your stress level. I know I’m not in a different place yet and I really have to tread softly. It’s been a ridiculous lesson in how important mental health is and the struggle this is for some women. It all honestly felt like the second after my daughter was born the sky opened up and all this just fell on me. I did not go through this with my first child.

    But life is now one day at a time. One night at a time. Besides medication trying out immaculate sleep hygiene has helped. I made myself a quite place at night to shut down. I end the screen time by a certain time. Your life can be so hectic with two small children besides this new scary event, that you need to try and create a safe and quite place to go at the end of the day. Taking away the power of your bed to make you toss and turn, I try to stay up as late as I can before I try to sleep. (As silly as it sounds but sleep deprevation, the idea of your bed purely for sleeping, even if you have to drag yourself out of it) I give myself time to relax, I give myself time to let my medication work. The only way to slay this dragon is a feeling that you have a “plan of attack” not just that unrest always wins and you have no real plan.

    I read some books that helped me think about making a sort of plan of attack for insomnia that were new to me. I really recommend the six week cure (not cured yet but someday) that you find from the Harvard Medical community on amazon. Sorry I don’t remember author but it’s the number one seller on this topic I believe. I don’t think medication alone helped me get out of the vicious insomnia cycle, but behavioral therapy and medication. I am sure when I stop medication I will still practice sleep hygiene. Word finds and coloring before bedtime anyone? Sound boring, good because boring before bed is good…Keeping a sleep journal everyday had also really helped. Sometimes even when it’s a bad night its a comfort the next day to say hey what is different or went wrong, what can I do different. It is also useful to look back at some sleep trends and remember the nights you did sleep and that your not in a black hole of sorts. It’s hard for our memory to always be positive, but you can’t argue if it’s on paper. I now try for good days and good nights as a mantra, relax when and if you can. The more you can try and relax during the day the easier it is to disassemble the stress wagon at night. Even if it’s only closing your eyes and relaxing for five minutes, try so hard to do it.

    It’s been good to share this, I wish you all luck, god bless, please feel free to email me if that’s possible I really would love to communicate with anyone about this. Especially those on the other side of this. I really have to hope this can all be a bad memory and not a daily struggle,


    • Hi Kayla-
      I am glad you found my blog and hope that you find comfort in knowing that you are far from alone in your experience. So many other mothers, including myself, struggled with postpartum insomnia. Some of us also suffered from panic attacks. Each of us was terrified of taking these medications and their side effects, terrified of becoming addicted. For many of us, sleep issues started immediately before or after childbirth (with or without complications), we have always been great sleepers, encountered people in medical/mental health that didn’t believe we had PPD, and learned there is a maddening lack of resources to treat new mothers with PPD.

      What doesn’t sound right to me is when you said you were sent home from the hospital with Ambien and Zoloft. Did they prescribe these meds for you for a period of time, or merely give you a few tablets on your way out?

      What you are going through reminds me of another new mom I was corresponding with…Mrs J who is featured in my latest blog post. What I can do is see if she is willing to be in touch with you about her experience and for the reassurance that someone else is going through what you are going through just recently. She was on Seroquel for a short period. Her sleep/anxiety issues started during pregnancy. She did not have PPD with her previous pregnancies. She checked herself into a psych ward out of desperation, not knowing where else to go for help. It took a few weeks to determine the right combination of meds that were effective in treating her PPD/insomnia. The good thing is, she is on the road to recovery.

      It certainly sounds like you are taking control of the situation as best you can and making use of the resources you have available, which is excellent. For some mothers like you, a combination of medication and therapy is effective in treating PPD. At this point, the best thing (and I know a very hard thing to do) is to focus on making it through one day at a time. Don’t think too far into the future. Just know that your treatment will take a little time. It took several months for my Paxil to reach its therapeutic dosage, but it took a full year for me to wean off of it without having any detrimental effects. Writing out your thoughts is highly therapeutic.

      When one is sick with PPD, your body’s neurochemistry is out of whack. This is not a mind over matter thing. Depending on how severe your PPD is, practicing different sleep hygiene techniques may make you panic even more when you realize your efforts (e.g., meditation, turning off technology early in the evening, and trying to be as calm as possible before bed time) cannot help you sleep better. None of this is your fault. Just know that you are one big step ahead of the game knowing you are not alone and you will recover with the right treatment.


      • Ivy,

        Thank you so much for your reply, its very thoughtful you make the time for people going through this and doing something positive with your experience. Its so funny how this kicked off with insomnia and I really thought that was the biggest issue I would have (and if i beat it), it wasn’t until later the panics started, the anxieties. Its weird that maybe this insomnia is a sign of some neurochemical change? But I imagine we have so much to learn about the brain. For me it seemed it was easier or more known to just have a “depression” reaction, where mine was anxiety when before I was literally cool as a cucumber before the birth. (and you think ugh, to be back to those uh peaceful days) But hope has come from not thinking I am alone. In my darkest hours, that was what it felt like, but others carried me. every angel in disguise. In the end I know I am learning so much more about my personality, (maybe some rediculous Type A tendencies that when faced with a large crisis, my brain went in shake down regain control mode. I wont argue that I have lived with anxiety my whole life, but I just thought being that mentally hyperactive was just a personality thing. ) But I am hopeful about the right medication and therapy.

        I didn’t respond well to much in the beginning but I am on Luvox now, seroquel to sleep (its only been 6 whole days, but in a optimistic way I want to say ive felt a little more balanced, the fears not ten feet tall and maybe even some laughter and old me joy again. Its so funny how just having a “normal” day becomes this rediculous luxury when you’ve had alot of bad ones…) The biggest thing I have to work on is I am not “bad” or “crazy” that I didn’t choose this. That and researching my medication on the internet, gosh its so easy to only find killer side effects and of course “this doesn’t work” But heres to the thought that the truth of who I am is bigger then my fears. And lately I do my best to challenge them, and tell people what it is I’m thinking even if it makes me feel shameful. Its hard not to be your own personal thought police. I was in a mode where it was like “oh this thought is proof of crazy this thought is proof of crazy. It can be pretty exhausting. We all need to learn how to be nice to ourselves, I read something along the lines of “pretend this was a friend…” you wouldnt be so hard on a friend. Maybe we all blame ourselves for problems because we think its something we dropped the ball on, and who wants to do that being a new mother. Not probability, or or hormones or brain chemistry.,..

        I did read Mrs’s Js post…oh goodness it was so strange like wow how close it felt to what I went through. I was going to have my husband sit down and read it but hes a slow read lol love him to pieces, (im this hyper extrovert and hes the stoic introvert, moves his lips as he reads, you know to me an eternity…3 days later hes done…lol its cute…a tortoise and the hare kind of love story…) I guess I would love to see how things turned out, I keep hoping that I get to be in some place reminicsing you know.

        But when its bad, when you are afraid, hope hope hope hope. right. give it all some time.

        thank you for all you do, and being apart of a beacon for women in dark places.

        very sincerely,



        • Hi Kayla,
          I’m so glad to hear from you. I’ve been thinking of you. And first and foremost, thank you for such kind words and referring to me as “a beacon for women in dark places.” What an honor. I just want to do my part if helping others the way that I myself had not been helped when I needed help the most.

          I thought your reference to yourself and your husband as “a tortoise and the hare kind of love story” as really adorable. You and I have not only our insomnia experience in common but the fact that we’re kind of like opposites from our husbands. I consider myself an extrovert for the most part, while my husband is a definite introvert.

          Please continue to keep me posted on your progress with the meds you’re using now. Continue to stay hopeful. Continue following your doctor’s orders re: your meds. You’re definitely NOT bad OR crazy. This is not your fault in the least. You should NOT feel shameful. You ARE bigger than your fears. Please continue to challenge your fears and share your thoughts/feelings. We all need to be nice to ourselves. There is no such thing as a perfect mother. Whoever thinks that of themselves is only fooling themselves. We can all expect motherhood to be a certain way and we can all hope for the best…..but we need to keep reality in check and be as prepared as possible by knowing our risks for PPD and ensuring we have adequate help emotionally and practically during the first 6 weeks postpartum.

          Yes, insomnia is indeed an outcome of neurochemical changes that occur for a good number of mothers, as you can see from the numerous posts I’ve gotten over the years. I continue to get numerous hits on my 2 posts about insomnia every single day.

          Like you, I learned a lot about myself from my experience and from all the books/articles I read when I was eagerly trying to learn as much as possible about PPD and why it happens. My experience transformed me just as you may find that your experience can have a transformational impact on you.


  11. Hi Ivy,

    Its me again. I am getting another round of PPD. I was weaned off from the meds last time but I did it myself. I was feeling great for 3 months and now its worst than ever. I hate the feeling. I’m in so much pain and I just want to be able to sleep. I can’t cope anymore. I’m back on the meds but I’m so anxious and shaky and I’m getting spasms. I wish this feeling can stop.

    • Hi Ivonne,
      I was wondering how you’ve been and whether you were in touch with my PSI contact. When you say you weaned off your meds by yourself, does that mean you did it without working it through with your doctor? Have you been to see or talk to your doctor since the symptoms returned? Please, you have to stay on your meds until the doctor tells you it’s okay to wean. I wanted to be med-free very shortly after I started feeling more myself, and the doctor said it was not a good idea. So I stayed on Paxil for another 8 months, but I never suffered a relapse. I was completely fine after I weaned off. It was a slow process because these meds are not like aspirin. You don’t just take it to alleviate a symptom. You take it to bring your neurochemical levels back to a more normal level, but that is dependent on your body’s ability to produce those neurochemicals too. There are a lot of factors out of your control. I know it’s extremely hard to be patient when all you want to do is return to your normal self.

      • I have been back to the doctor and are taking meds again but this time the anxiety is worst so I am also taking ativan. I feel so scared and hopeless especially the fact that it happens again. I wish the hospital can take me. Can you please resend me your contact again? I’m in Markham Ontario.

        • I understand, as I would feel extremely scared and hopeless if that happened to me too. I emailed Hajara and asked if she could reach out to you. I’m sending you an email with her contact info as well. Hang in there!

  12. Hi Ivy.

    I too am suffering from postnatal insomnia. Mine started from the very first day my son was born along with extreme anxiety. The anxiety has got much better over time. The sleep hasn’t. I’ve been back and forth to The GP. They have had me on different anti histamines and Trazodone. They all get me a couple of hours of sleep but that’s it after that I constantly wake through the night. My son is 7 months old now! I finally got referred to see a psychiatrist but she doesn’t think I need an Antidepressant. But the more I read stories by other mothers who went through it the more I realise 99% of mums got better once on an antidepressant. The psychiatrist has given me lunesta for 2 weeks to see if it will get my body back into a decent sleeping pattern. I slept 4 hours with it last night. But after that I was constantly up again for the rest of the night.

    I’m losing hope that I will ever get better.

    • Dear Mama,
      Please do not lose hope! Your experience sounds like so many mothers who have reached out to me, and just like me they have recovered. The biggest problem is doctors and therapists not knowing how to properly diagnose and treat postpartum depression/anxiety. Please let me know whereabouts you live and I can try to put you in touch with local help. Please let me know if you’d like to correspond via email. Hang in there. Remember that you WILL get better!

    • I am still struggling with my PDD 8 months post partum. It took about 2 months for me to adjust to medication (40mg Prozac and I have been able to wean down to 25mg of trazadone) for me to sleep a full night. It feels like hell and an impossible journey while you are going through it. I even told my husband I thought I needed to be institutionalized. Do not loose hope. This blog showed me other women go through the same thing too, you will get through it.
      I have struggled with anxiety since my teen years. I successfully got off all meds to get pregnant, but now looking back I think I should have put less pressure on myself to BF and started my meds back right away (this is my plan next time to hopefully prevent the insomnia and anxiety)
      The best thing for me was to get LO out of my room. My parents took him over night at 6 weeks and it was the FiRST time I was able to get 4 hours of sleep since the PDD started. After that he stayed out of the room. Slowly things started to get better.
      It’s SO important to seek help early as most medications take at least 2 weeks to get in your system to provide any relief.
      We are here for you, stay strong! ❤

      • Hi Nikki, can I ask you about your experience with trazodone? I just started 50 mg each day for 2 nights and it hasn’t helped me with sleep. It gives me dry mouth and nasal congestion and doesn’t make me drowsy. I am unable to sleep until after 3 am and so tired. Did you experience the same with the trazodone?

        • Jessica, I’m so sorry you are not finding relief with the trazadone.
          I had been on it on the past and knew it worked for me. At first it was putting me to sleep but I would still wake around 1-2am and not be able to get back to sleep. They upped my dose to 100mg per night and this WITH Prozac kicking in finally worked. I am trying to wean off it now, I take 25mg now every night. My insomnia gets worse the closer I get to my cycle so some nights I take 50.
          Do they have you an an anxiety or depression medicine as well?

          • Thanks for sharing, Nikki! No, I wasn’t prescribed anything else but trazodone for now. I am wondering how much time it takes for it to kick in. Did you take it hours before you wanted to sleep or just before?

  13. Thanks Ivy. Is there any chance you’d be willing to talk on the phone? I’m in jersey and I can call so it’s free on your end. I’m terrified that this is happening and not getting better. Thanks again for your support.

  14. Hi Ivy
    I didn’t know how else to contact you, but by commenting. I’ve had insomnia since my son was 5 months. It started with weaning and worrying about him and I’ve had it for over a year now. He’s 20 months. Now I don’t worry about him anymore but the lack of sleep has led to depression and sleep anxiety. I really don’t know where to turn to. I’m Asian and my parents are very antimed so I’ve been going on and off struggling with severe anxiety and panic attacks before bed, in the middle of the night when I’m not sleeping and in the morning when I have to do it all over again. Is there any chance we can talk though email. I really need hope. Thanks.

    • Hi Kris,
      I’m not sure I understood your comment about your parents (typo?)…your situation sounds similar to Jessica’s, with long-term insomnia that, with proper help (meds and/or therapy), you will be recovering from very soon. Whereabouts are you from, and I can try to find local help for you. Let me know, and I’ll also drop you a note via email shortly, by tomorrow, as I have to turn in. Had a very long day and completely exhausted.

  15. Oh Ivy, I just stumbled upon your blog and it echoes my situation exactly. Except I am now 11 months postpartum and have been dealing with insomnia for the last 8 months. I am seriously going crazy every night only 2-4 hours of sleep. My ob didn’t think it was ppd despite me asking and telling her my symptoms. I have tried ambien, Benadryl, Ativan, Chinese herbs, acupressure, acupuncture, progesterone suppositories all without much success. Can you tell me how you found a good ob familiar with this and how to get on the right medication to help? Everyday I don’t think I’ll make it through the night.. It truly is a living nightmare. Thank you

    • Hi Jessica,
      I’m so sorry you have been struggling with insomnia for so many months! Do you have any other symptoms, like anxiety? My OB was no help except to prescribe Ambien. He told me to go see a GP once he realized my insomnia wasn’t just lack of sleep all new parents experience. So I saw a GP who prescribed Paxil (to bring my serotonin/neurochemical levels back to normal) and Xanax (for the uncontrollable panic attacks). Both docs had terrible bedside manner. Whereabouts do you live and I can try to find local help for you. hang in there, we’ll get you on the right path to recovery! I can email you (I have your email address, no need to leave in a comment) if you wish. Let me know…

      • Hi Ivy, definitely send me an email! Perhaps kris and I can be on the same email chain if she’s willing. My insomnia also started as soon as I weaned her from breastfeeding as well! That’s why I’m sure it’s a hormonal imbalance even though my endocrinologist screed me and thyroid levels are normal. I’m in the Los Angeles area. Looking forward to recovering like you did!

    • Hi Sara,
      I have been off Paxil since early 2006. I was on Paxil but on smaller and smaller dosages over the course of a year. I was completely off of Paxil one year after I started taking it in 2005. SSRIs are not like aspirin or other meds because it has the task of bringing your neurochemistry back to normal that was thrown out of whack from childbirth. It takes time, but you will recover!

  16. Hi Ivy. Thanks so much for your blog. I am experiencing PPD and insomnia. It all started out of the blue when my son was 6 weeks old. The day before I was sleeping 7 hours and the next day I wasn’t sleeping at all and it continued the next day. I went to my OB to ask for medications and she prescribed me Zoloft at 25 mg then increased to 50 mg a week later. She also prescribed zoplicone at 3.5 mg to sleep. At first I was able to fall asleep with the 3.5 mg of zoplicone but woke up 1.5 hours later and couldn’t go back to sleep so I took another one. Then the next day I took 7 mg of the zoplicone to sleep i was able to get 5-6 hours for the next 2 days. Then the zoplicone stopped working. I am not able to sleep. I am also on progesterone cream since I visited the naturopath in a panic and felt like something was off. I feel so exhausted and hopeless right now. I am very lucky to have inlaws who is willing to move in immediately after I had these symptoms. My husband took another week off work to care for my son as I am not able to care for him at all, I have no emotions or ability to care. It has been one week since I am on the meds and I hope it will work soon. I wan’t to feel myself again. It seems such a long road, I wish the end of this PPD is near. I keep reading your blog over and over again to reassure me that I will get through this. It’s so hard when no one understands how you feel. I tried to look for PPD support group in my area but I am not able to find one. Would love to hear from you if you can email me.

    • Hi Ivonne,
      Sorry for the delay in responding. I will email you in a bit. In the meantime I’m deleting your email address for privacy reasons. Please tell me whereabouts you live so I can connect you with professionals who can help and are experienced with helping moms with postpartum mood disorders. There’s also the closed Postpartum Support International Facebook group that you can join
      for support.
      Please know you will be well again! You need time and the right help.

    • Hello ivone, I just wanted to say that I have been through the same as you and I promise you it really does improve. I know it’s just so awful when you have insomnia night after night. It can take a little while but you will get there. Natalia x

      • Thank you Natalia. I am hoping to feel back to myself again. The medicine is making me feel not myself but less panic /anxiety attacks at least.

        • Yes ivone, the medication can take a bit of getting used to. I even had to switch after a month because the first one I tried made me feel so bad. I then tried citalopram which thankfully had no side effects for me. My daughter is now 7 months old and although I’m still on the citalopram I’m feeling much better and am not dependent on sleep meds. Life looked bleak at first when the postpartum anxiety and insomnia took hold but things really have got better. I think this blog by Ivy is great as it shows us that there are others going through the same and that you really can recover. Good luck xx

      • Hi Natalia,
        Thank you so much for trying to help Ivonne. It always warms my heart to see moms trying to help other moms. So good to hear from you.
        Take care,
        Ivy x
        p.s. – Would you be willing to exchange emails with a new mom in the UK going through what we went through (insomnia/anxiety)?

        • Hi ivy,I would be happy to email any mums going through the same that I went through to reassure them that they will get better. I know something like that would have really helped me.

          • Hi Natalia, I am the mother of a two month old. I developed ppd insomnia about a month ago. I am currently on Zoloft at 75 and trazadone and ativan at night for sleep although they do not provide me with straight bouts of sleep. I am feeling better during my days but get depressed about the insomnia and taking all of these meds. I don’t like being on a ton of meds. And just keep thinking will this ever get better and will i sleep again. Would love to hear your story and insight. Feel free to email me. Thank you-Sarah

            • Hi Sarah,
              I will be happy to send Natalia your email address so she can get in touch with you, and you can get more support. Like you, I absolutely hated the fact that I was on any meds and I was petrified of being on so many at once (Ambien, Paxil, Xanax). Once the Paxil kicked in (you have to be steadily taking it at doc’s instrux), I was able to stop taking the Ambien and Xanax. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel and you WILL see it. I didn’t think I would be myself again, and I am now. Please try to stay as positive as possible, knowing there are so many mothers who have been through what you’re going through now and are well again.

  17. Hi Ivy, thank you so much for sharing your story here. It helped me a lot get to know my ppd/a more. It (insomnia/panic attack/anxiety) started right after I got home from delivery.I didn’t know why my body felt so cold and sweaty, and fast heart beating every time I try to sleep and even daytime now. I was given 25mg of trazodone at first when ER docs and I thought it was just temporary insomnia from traumatic delivery(long labour, sevear tear).
    But as time goes by, my simptons got worse I went back to ER again, was told to keep taking trazodone 50mg. It only gave me 2-3 hour sleep max(Now only 1-2hrs). I went to gp he gave me zopiclone to take 5times per week when I need even with trazodone.
    Combination of these gives me about 5 hr sleep. I’m ok with it but my anxiety is not going away so I have really bad times during a day..
    I went see a psychiatrist for one time assessment since the ER doc reffered me to her, she gave me 25mg zoloft saying since I am a tiny person I should start with a small dose. So morning zoloft, night trazodone and zopiclone if needed.
    Today is the 2nd day on zoloft(generic) I have been feeling so anxious and feeling the numbness / coldness on my neck, back and arms, palpitating..
    I have to skip zopiclone toight cause I have to give twice resting time week to prevent from addicting. My gp wouldn’t give me ativan or xanax cause it is too addicting..
    I also asked him to reffer me to a reproductive psychiatrist for further treatment but the waitlist seems pretty long hopefully I see them soon.

    Tonight will be a hard night. No sleeping pill and extra anxiety from the adjustment… Please pray for me anyone sees this.

    Could I ask you a question? While paxil was on the way to kick in, did you feel extra anxious, harder to sleep? How did you treat yourself in mind while waiting? Did you wanna give up? Any tips to hang in here before I give up cause it is so hard?

    Hope you are still cheking this. Thank you.
    Jo from Vancouver

    • Hi Jo,
      I’m glad you found my blog because what you are going through is very similar to what I went through. What got me to start seeing a different doctor was the onset of panic attacks (did you read my panic attacks post yet? Before Paxil kicked in for me, I had to endure the continuation of the panic attacks for about a couple weeks after I started taking Xanax. My memory as to how long that actually took is fuzzy. Felt like an eternity and I had my doubts that I would make it, but I did! Each day that went by with the panic attacks and insomnia were extremely difficult. Though I did have sporadic help with the baby during the first month or so after the baby was born, I didn’t have anyone that understood what I was going through, and I didn’t really have any company during the day (nor did I really care to have any, for that matter). Do you have help with the baby? Do you have emotional support from anyone during the day? Any relatives or friends that can swing by and keep you company during the day? I know it’s natural to just want to shut down and shut people out when one’s depressed, and I’m glad you are getting medical treatment. But I really suggest the following options.

      I can have one of the Postpartum Support International coordinators in British Columbia to reach out to you. Here are their websites.

      I totally recommend you join this closed group on Facebook if you’re not a member already:

      I can also email you if you wish! I would be more than happy to correspond with you closely to get you through this period.

      When I went through my PPD, I had no online resources or books or anything at all to help me get through each day. I didn’t know about Postpartum Support International, didn’t find any local support groups. My doctor sucked in bedside manner. But….I did manage to get through each day. Not sure how, but I did. I just kept reminding myself that my daughter needed me. You need someone who is specialized in postpartum mental health to help you get through this. Having enough help during the day and with night time feedings is CRITICAL.

      My doctor mentioned that Xanax was addicting, but he prescribed it for me, and I did NOT get addicted. Once the prescription ran out, the doctor did not refill it. Fortunately at about that time, my Paxil kicked in (took about 4 weeks).

      Let me know if you want me to email you, okay? Hang in there! YOU WILL GET BETTER!

      • Thank you for your quick reply! I just woke up and got barely 3 hr sleep with trazodone only. Feeling really wierd and worse since I only got introduced zoloft.. But is it normal feeling worse when first starting ssri? Or should I tell my doc about it?
        I have a mom in-law who came to help but she is leaving soon and my sister is coming in Jan..
        Yes, please email me so I can keep in touch with you. That will make me feel better and comforted.



        • Hi there!
          Read your post this am and I am praying you will heal soon. I had bad insomnia and anxiety on my first pregnancy 2-1/2 years ago. I had to take klonopin during the first few weeks just to sleep in addition to Paxil and Zoloft . You will feel better but it will take some time.
          I just had my 2nd child one month ago and so far I’m blessed no ppd symptoms. Like Ivy said, try to keep some friends keep you company and be easy on your self it will take take to heal but know it will be better !

          • Hi Christiana,
            Good to hear from you! Congrats on your 2nd baby! Please continue to take it easy, as I know you know that the first 3 months are toughest on new moms, with the first 6-8 weeks as the period in which most PPD experiences begin.

            • Hi Ivy, it is Jo again. Today is the 4th day of taking 25 mg zoloft.
              I am feeling really drowsy and bit depressed and anxious.
              I don’t know if it is the right med for me, regretting starting it..
              I am so impatient I’m not sure if I can wait for a month to see the change, everything is harder than before.
              When you were taking paxil, did u suddenly notice the change at one month mark? Or did u feel gradually better within a month time?
              And when you change the dose, did you have any side effects at all?
              I’m scared if I have to change the meds and have to go thorough all over again.
              I’m so desperate so I need someone who can say everything will be fine and I can go back to normal.

              Thank you so much.

          • Congratulations on your second baby! I hope everything will be fine or even better this time. Thank you for praying for me.
            How long did it take you to see the improvement on the med and are you completey off all the meds you took? Any relapse or rebound?

            • Hi!
              It took me almost 2 months to get to the right dose of Zoloft 100 mg and it was very difficult when increasing doses bc i felt so jittery as if I was feeling worse but I also took progesterone bc I found out my hormone levels were low . And that really helped me a lot! Hang in there! I feel your pain and frustration. I am 5 weeks out and still scared of having it again too. My husband and I got into a fight tonight and can’t sleep bc I’m so mad and hurt and also fearful it’s insomnia from PPD which I’m hoping is not the case.

        • Hi Jo,
          I deleted your email address to keep your info private. Forgot to ask you before, but did the doctor tell you to take zopiclone every other day? Glad to hear you’ve had some help. How long is your sister staying for? When you first start taking a med, it takes your body a bit of time to get used to it. These meds work neurochemically, and for SSRIs, they work to adjust the serotonin levels in your brain. So, the meds will make a person feel different, a bit weird, even. I remember feeling strange, like I was sitting in a cloud with the cloud pressing inwards on me.
          I’ll write you in a little bit.

          • Hi Ivy,
            The doc told me to take zopiclone 5 times per week when I need. I always want to take it even taking trazodone cause trazodone olny gives me 1-3hr sleep. Since I alredy have taken zoplclone 3 nights this week, I skipped one last night but only trazodone, ended up,slept like 3 hr sleep “total”.

            My sister can stay for a few months from anytime in Jan but the air ticket is so expensive in early Jan so maybe in the middle of January.. In the meantime I desperately need some help, I don’t know what to do.

            How were you feeling during the daytime while you’re waiting for paxil to kick in? Did you only have sleeping problems with panic attacks at night? or feel anxious through days?
            Before I started zoloft, I felt ok daytime as long as I got some sleep. But it seems I am constantly feeling anxious now on zoloft. Should I just wait until it kicks in? I see my gp in 3 weeks.
            When you increase the dose, was it the same feeling you felt when you first started it?

            You can email me instead of adding a reply here or totally up to you..


            • Hey Jo,

              Not sure if you will get this or not but I’m curious how you are doing? I’m in the midst of working through insomnia and ppa. I sleep with meds but still sometimes have trouble falling asleep. Looking for stories of hope here!

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  19. Hi ivy, I am going through post partum insomnia for the second time. I thought that having gone through it before would make it easier but it hasn’t. I’m taking anti depressants and sleep meds. I’ve been going through it for 3 months now. It seems to improve for 2 weeks and then get much much worse before my period starts. My doctor has run out of ideas of what to do , but says I could try the combined birth control pill if I want. Do you know of anyone who has tried this with success? Many thanks. Natalia x

    • Hi Natalia,
      Are you finding that you don’t have insomnia AT ALL before your period starts? Sorry, I do not know anyone who has tried taking birth control and anti-depressants at the same time to try to relieve insomnia. I would suggest getting a second opinion about the antidepressants you are on given your situation. At the same time, if your doctor is suggesting taking the combination, then perhaps give it a try…you may find that it might work.

    • I had a horrible postpartum insomnia three years ago what finally worked was 125 mg of Zoloft, trazodone and or Xanax to help me sleep until the Zoloft kicked in , And I had my hormones tested by a local hormone specialist Doctor Who found through my blood that I was low on progesterone so I took 50 mg of bio identical progesterone for about a year. I would start by making sure that your antidepressant is right for you, and that you take it in the morning if it’s causing you insomnia at night, what are you on what dose and what med? May need to increase your dose .

      • Thanks for your comment. My insomnia is dreadful in the 2 weeks before my period and then improves a bit when my period starts. I had to take progesterone to get pregnant in the first place as my luteal phase was so short. I have also been prescribed bio identical progesterone by a hormone Dr, but have read such mixed reviews about it on the internet that I’m too scared to try it :(. Did the progesterone start working for you straight away ? And was there any problem coming off it? Many thanks, Natalia.

    • Natalia,

      I am 18 months post partum and continue to have insomnia right before my period due to the drop in progesterone. I have found kavinace ultra pm to be very helpful. I also had a hormone test that found my progesterone and other hormones low and was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue. I also took and andrenogen to balance my adrenal function for about 4 months and that really helped.

      Right after I had my baby the only thing that really helped was 1mg Ativan.

      I am happy to email or talk if you need it. Totally know what you are going through. Very nervous about having a second baby.

  20. Hi Ivy,
    You have described it best. I also started out of the blue around 6 weeks postpartum. One night I was crawling back into bed after BF and falling right to sleep the next I laid there awake. I have a long history of anxiety and weaned myself off my Prozac before getting pregnant. I did so well during pregnancy I thought I may never have to go back on it. Wrong. I am also used to getting at least 8-9 hours of sleep a night but since the day I delivered I’ve averaged 4-5 until this insomnia now I’m lucky if I get 3-4 with trazadone. I started back in my Prozac a week ago but even with sleep aids in not getting through the night. I also have terrible nausea and lack of appetite most likely anxiety related. The baby is on formula now I couldn’t do BF anymore I was desperate to take anything to help me sleep. He is sleeping from 8PM-4AM most days at 7.5 weeks. People say oh get someone to watch him, well it doesn’t matter it’s ME not him sleeping. Sorry to ramble, I’m feeling desperate and it’s nice to know someone out there understands.
    Thank you!!

    • Hi Nikki,
      I am so glad you find my post helpful. As you can see from the many comments other mother have left, insomnia as a PPD symptom is so very common. How long have you been on the trazadone, if you don’t mind my asking? Also, are you getting enough help with the baby? Hugs to you, you will get better!

      • I’ve been in the trazadone and Prozac for about a week. I know the Prozac will take about another week to work. I’ve been on both in the past and did well. This time the trazadone isn’t keeping me asleep.
        Yes dad has been VERY good, but like I mentioned the baby sleeps pretty well it’s me.

        • Nikki-

          How are you doing now? Not sure if you will get a notification for this. I’m reaching out to get more encouragement for my insomnia and anxiety since having my twins.

      • Yes, the meds need time to kick in. My doctor prescribed Xanax (for the panic attacks I was experiencing) and Paxil. I was off the Xanax in less than a month and by the 4th week of my taking the combo, the Paxil kicked in and I was able to sleep again without needing Ambien. My husband tried to help with the baby as best he could when he wasn’t at work and as much as possible at night too. It was really tough the first 3 months postpartum. And like you, I couldn’t sleep even when the baby slept.

  21. Thank you so much for this blog. I am going through ppd and insomnia for the second time at the moment. Sharing your story is such a comfort for those of us that have never met anyone else whose been through this.

    • Hi Nat,
      I’m glad you’ve discovered my blog and it helps you knowing there are others that share similar experiences. Are you being treated by a doctor right now? If you would ever like to keep in closer touch, I can send you an email and we’ll stay in touch that way.
      Take care,

      • Hi ivy, yes I’m being treated by a doctor. The usual mix of antidepressants and sleeping tablets :(. It’s not really working at the moment but I’m trying to stay positive. I managed to take my older daughter to an aquarium today despite only having 2 hours sleep last night, so I’m pretty pleased with myself. Are you in the U.S or U.K? Keeping in touch via email would be great.

        • Hi Nat, I’m glad to hear you are being taken care of by a doctor. How long have you been on the antidepressants? Please stay positive…you will get better…you got better before, you will do it again! Sounds like you had a nice day with your daughter. I’m in the U.S. I will send you an email shortly, and we can keep in touch as much as you need.

  22. Hi Ivy,

    I cannot thank you enough for having the courage to share your story.

    I experienced postpartum anxiety after having my first son in 2010. I had had bouts of anxiety before in my life, but I felt so wonderful throughout my pregnancy that I wasn’t even thinking about PPD/PPA. Then about 8 weeks after giving birth, I woke up in the middle of the night with a racing heart and what felt like a panic attack. I didn’t get back to sleep that night and so began my journey with PPA.

    Like you, no one seemed to “get it” that I really did want to rest and sleep when I could, but I just couldn’t get my mind and body to relax.
    I would lie awake at night and feel like I was going crazy, losing my mind, and so alone that I just wanted to curl up. It felt like it would never end, that I would feel like that forever. What had happened to my baby bliss that I had been feeling? What was wrong with me? It was embarrassing to talk about. Even my own mom didn’t really understand what I was feeling. I had never felt more scared or alone in my entire life.

    I decided to call my OB and she referred me to a psychiatrist. I went on Celexa and started talk therapy with someone who understood what I was going through. She specialized in women’s mental health through life transitions.

    I ended up feeling much better within about 2 months and felt like my old self again.

    The reason I write today is because i had my second son 4 weeks ago and this insomnia and anxiety has decided to rear its ugly head. I had decided to go back on Celexa right before I gave birth, at my doctors suggestion to prevent the anxiety I had experienced with my first child. But I don’t think it has kicked in yet, or perhaps I need to increase my dose. I am planning to speak with my doctor tomorrow about my medication options for relief from the anxiety and insomnia–something compatible with breastfeeding.

    So I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for offering a place of support and hope. I find myself in this dark place again, and am trying my best to remember it is short term. It is so hard when you are in the thick of it though. The heart palpitations and racing thoughts and insomnia feel like they will never end.

    Just trying to stay positive!!

    • Hi Stephanie,
      Thank you for sharing your own story! I am so glad you found my blog and hope it is of some help to you on your recovery from this second bout of PPD/PPA. Your first experience sounds very much like what I went through, and I’m glad you found someone that helped you feel like yourself again within a relatively short period of time. I am glad to hear you are speaking with your doctor about your meds. Are you seeing the same psychiatrist as last time?

      If you feel you need to stay in closer touch with me, I can email you my contact info and we can stay in touch by phone, text and/or email. I know what it’s like to have insomnia and the panic attacks, and hope they stop very soon! Do stay positive and know that you are far from alone in all this. As you can see from all the comments other moms have left me since I wrote this blog post, it is so common. I just wish it could be universally recognized and we can stop the stigma and moms can know what to look for to prevent onset or get treatment to recover more quickly, feeling less alone, lost, hopeless and bewildered in the process. That’s the last thing a new mom needs to experience!

      • Thank you, Ivy! If you can send me your email or phone so I can text you, that would be wonderful. I do have a few questions for you.
        Thank you again in helping me feel not so alone.

  23. Hi Ivy,

    I had a very similar experience to yours after having my 1st child back in 2010. After many months of insomnia (starting 4 months post baby) and trying the Ambien route I finally melted down and my dr diagnosed me with PPD and I went on Zoloft, Xanax and Trazodone(the latter for for only 3 months). I am still on the 1st two as I find when I try to taper the insomnia always starts to come back. I would love to get some of your thoughts & experiences – are you still on AD meds? Have you ever tried to come off? Any rebound insomnia? You can email me if that’s easier as I may have more questions for you:

    • Hi Bridgett,
      I am glad you found my blog and left a comment. I’d like to preface my response with the fact that everyone’s experiences are so different. I went on Paxil and Xanax within a couple of weeks after my insomnia, and I was able to stop taking Ambien and Xanax within 4 weeks. It took me pretty much a year to wean off of the Paxil. Have you been seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist? Do you feel you are getting enough practical/emotional support from others, like family and friends? Have you had prior bouts of insomnia and/or depression? I will follow up my response here with an email so you can reach out whenever you’d like and we can continue the discussion via email, if you’d prefer.

      • Hi Ivy!
        Thanks for the quick reply! I have followed your blog for a few years now as it was so helpful to find someone who had gone through it and know I wasn’t alone. I finally decided it was time to write you and I will go ahead and reply on here as it may help others to know my struggle. I have not yet seen a therapist or psychiatrist yet . When I hit rock bottom back in summer 2011 my GP went straight to putting me on meds which is what I absolute needed at that point. It helped me tremendously but I know I can’t continue to be on them for the rest of my life, right? I need to wean. I have gotten to as low as 25mg of Zoloft for several months but then my insomnia always starts to come back so I, at first, fall back on sleep aids such as Ambien or anti-anxiety like Klonopin or Xanax. Then if those don’t help (they can get me to fall asleep but then I keep waking up in middle of the night (wide awake) and have to take more to get me back to sleep), I end up needing to up my Zoloft again to 50-75mg to get my seratonnin back up and insomnia gone. It’s a vicious cycle as I’m sure many know! I am meeting with my GP tomm as I am in that cycle again (insomnia has come back on) and I am thinking to up my Zoloft…AND this time possibly get a rec for a sleep specialist/therapist as well. I know this cycle has to end and wonder if going to a specialist will help??! Have you heard anything similar to my situation and bad withdrawals/return of insomnia where sleep therapy can be a solution?? Any thoughts, recommendations, etc would be so appreciated! Thank you so much for putting yourself out there and helping the rest of us:)

        • Hi Bridgett,
          I think you really need to see someone who is experienced with treating anxiety/depression. Did you ever have insomnia/depression before you had your baby? I’m not trained or licensed in any way, but from my experience with talking to moms in similar situations as you, your next step should probably be to see a psychiatrist who can offer a combination of therapy and medication. I would also recommend you reach out to the PSI warmline to see what they would recommend. Also, you may want to join the closed Facebook group for Postpartum Support International and reach out with your concern there. There are many psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, doulas, etc. that are members of that group and are ready to provide support to moms experiencing PPD or other postpartum mood disorder. I’d like to make sure you get as much support as possible from experienced sources, which will help with your recovery.

        • Hi, I went through similar experience. Haven’t been able to wean off antidepressants. Now on them for over six years and feeling great. Will be on them for rest of my life. Doctor says it’s fine and I don’t mind taking them. It’s like taking a supplement. If your iron is low you take iron supplements. If your serotonin is low you take an SSRI. Hope this helps



          • Hi Ann,
            Wow, it’s good to hear from you again. I remember our chats from several years back when you told me you’d weaned completely off your AD’s and then had a relapse around the time of your period. Back then, I indicated that for some women the biology behind hormones/moods changes after childbirth and it can take several years (in addition to a combination of Omega 3’s, exercise and supplements) to wean off AD’s. It is possible to wean, though you do so in your own time, of course.

            • Hi Ivy,

              No I never had insomnia or the associated anxiety and depression before having a baby. I slept fine for the most part before baby – occasionally took melatonin but that was it. I like your suggestion about seeing a phychiatrist that understands this and the medication part of it. My biggest symptom that flares up when I start to get to too low of a dose on my AD is the insomnia – and then comes the anxiety because I can’t sleep and then it’s all I think about! Which I’m sure causes it to get worse. Is there a website that refers therapists that specialize in PPD/A? I am in the Kansas City area. I will also ask my GP today if she knows of anyone.

                • Thank you Ivy! I did email the Kansas PSI coordinator today and she got right back to me with several psychiatrists in the area. When I feel I am ready to try weaning again I am going to set up an appt with one of them! It will help to have that support I think. Thank you for all of your help. I will keep you posted.

                  • Great, though I truly believe it would help to see someone who specializes in postpartum mood disorders now rather than wait to see one later when you are feeling like you are ready to wean. Please keep me posted! All the best, Ivy

                    • Hi Ivy,
                      Thank you so much for checking in with me! I really appreciated all of your advice and it’s prompted me to get going on some things. I have an appt set up with a female psychiatrist in early August to start discussing my history. I tried contacting 2 more before her but they weren’t accepting new patients and this was the earliest I could get in to see this 3rd doctor! But these are all psychiatrists that the PSI coordinator recommended, so I feel good about that. My PCP put me on a new sleep aid in the meantime, Belsomra, to hopefully get me back on the path to getting sleep again. I hate having to take yet another RX but sleep is just too critical to me being able to function so I am trying to just go with it so I can get better. In addition to this, I have scheduled an appt with a sleep doctor for this Friday to also discuss my insomnia and see about doing a sleep study. I’d like to see if there is anything else going on/not going on in my brain during the night that could be influencing all my troubles. I am trying to tackle this from all angles and it all started from your initial prompting and encouragement so thank you! Any other thoughts or advice? I hope to have more to report by end of summer.

                    • Hi Bridget,
                      Sounds like you are indeed covering all your bases well, and smartly. Sleep is extremely critical to functioning and your recovery, so yes, you need to do what you can (meds/support) to get your sleep back on track. I had wanted to see a sleep doctor when I was struggling with insomnia, but fortunately did not have to see one because we got to the root of my issues with the combo of meds (the one good thing that came of my doctor visits). I don’t really have anything more to add other than the fact that you sound like you’re going through what I went through over 10 years ago. At the time, I feared I would never return to my old self again and that I would struggle with insomnia/panic attacks for the rest of my life. The fear/dread of not being able to fall asleep caused the panic attacks. I dreaded bedtime but I knew I had to sleep…and yet I couldn’t sleep. It was a terrible cycle of fear/dread of not being able to fall asleep that made my anxiety worse.

                      Please keep me posted, and reach out if you have any other questions!

  24. Hi Ivy,

    Thank you so much for your blog. I had my baby girl on 10/17, and on 11/21 (after a serious of events), I suddenly developed severe insomnia. It was as though a light turned on in my brain and would not shut off.

    I was in denial of PPD for 4 months, and tried everything from acupunture, herbs vitamins, etc. Finally 2 days ago, I went to my kaiser doctor in tears and was prescribed Zoloft and Ativan for sleep.

    I was wondering if you could call me [phn # edited out]. I would love to ask you some questions. I’m in a new and desparate state, and would love the support. If you incur phone charges, I can always call you.

    Thank you so much in advance.


    • Hi Winnie,
      I am glad you found my blog, and I will be happy to call you. Hope you will be free at around 7:00 pm your time. Will try then. By the way, I am editing your phone # out to ensure privacy for you. I’ve jotted it down and promise to call.
      Talk soon,

  25. I originally posted in April when my insomnia started to spin out of control.The combination of Klonopin at 1 mg and Zoloft at 200mg worked for me though it took a few months to start sleeping a bit better. The meds did not solve my insomnia completely but they helped me, in combination with CBT, to stop worrying about not being able to sleep at all…Slowly, once my thoughts about the sleep became more rational, my sleep started to improve and my dose of Klonopin was reduced to 0.25 mg. For the last few weeks I am back to my normal sleep of about 7 hours. It was a long road for me but eventually time, meds, CBT worked for me. As a type A personality, I am focused on the future and am very driven. I used to dwell on the things that I have not accomplished yet. Through this process, I learnt to live more in the present and appreciate things that I have achieved. By no means, I can call myself a laid back person now but I am getting better at living in the present. I can say that I am a happier person now. I thought that I would post an update to give hope to other moms who find that sleeping aids do not work the miracles for them.

    • Dear Lena,
      I cannot tell you how happy I am to hear from you and that you are doing so much better! Thank you for the update and for caring enough to try to give hope to other moms who are now suffering through what you and I both suffered by sharing how you are doing now and how you got to where you are today! This is the primary reason I started this blog. To give hope and share lessons learned and help other moms. Warmly, Ivy

  26. I feel better reading your comments. I just am so scared that this feeling of brain fog and insomnia will never go away. I had my Son 6 days ago… So it will be a week on Saturday and I have a 15 month old Daughter who does not sleep at night no matter what we do. It seems like right when she heads to bed at 4am my Son is getting up! My Man stays home with me and he is a huge help and gets up with both of them and it takes me awhile but I do manage to sleep a few hours and even have multiple dreams but I can not turn my mind off at night when my Husband is sleeping… Because I feel like right when I finally do shut my mind off my Son will cry and wake me up.

    • Hi Krystal, I’m glad reading the comments is helping to make you feel better and your husband is helping out a lot. With two babies, Im sure you are exhausted. Right now the most important thing is trying to get 4-5 hrs sleep at night for a few days to try to prevent your condition from getting worse. Can you get help through the night for a few days? If you need to reach out to me, let me know and I will send an email. Take good care. Warmly, ivy

      • I feel a little better today but still emotional at certain times during the day. I feel normal when near my Husband and children and we are all in the bedroom but I also take Xanax once a day to help. I feel like nothing will get better and I am scared I will never get healthy. My Man is up during the day with both babies while I toss and turn to get a few hours… Then early morning when our 15 month old Daughter finally sleeps at 4am our Son is getting up every hour. My man is just as tired and uses caffeine to function. He even cooks and cleans and makes sure everyone is happy and my guilt keeps me from sleeping during the day also. I feel sad and lost and scared. Today he is 6 days old.

        • Oh, dear Krystal, I wish I could give you a hug right now! Sounds like your husband is doing everything he can to help. Do you have any relatives nearby that can help for a few days? If you need someone with experience helping and talking to moms with PPD, please call 800-944-4PPD. That’s the warmline for Postpartum Support Int’l (PSI). They may even be able to help recommend a therapist near you experienced with PPD. I would seriously like to recommend you speak to a doctor or therapist to make sure you have the help you need to get through this period. I wish I could help you more, but I’m afraid I may just make things worse by not knowing the right things to say, since I am not a trained healthcare professional. I know it’s hard to avoid feeling scared right now. I felt petrified when I was going through my PPD experience. I’ve been there and know exactly what it’s like. So many moms, including those who have reached out and left comments in this thread over the past handful of years, have gone through what you are going through now, and have survived. You will be alright. I will drop you an email now so we can correspond more in private.

          • Thnx… I slept maybe 2 hours but I was in the bedroom for 4 hours. I am still groggy and spaced out. I also feel like the days are passing by so fast. I had a dream time was moving by fast and I was moving slow and woke up and could not go back to sleep. My Husband is with both kids during the day to let me sleep and at night I feel bad waking him up once in awhile with emotions. I see my doctor Tuesday.

            • Hi Krystal,
              This is great that you have arranged a visit to a doctor. Please, be honest with your doctor and let her/him know exactly what you are going through. The earlier you start a treatment plan, the sooner you will get better…the lack of sleep is a vicious cycle…your worry keeps you from sleep and the lack of sleep makes you worry even more….So, it is important to seek the treatment before your worry got extreme.
              Also, do not compare your progress to other moms. We are all different and have a different chemical brain composition…so what works for one person, might not work for another. Do not google too much, especially in search of unsuccessful stories! Work with your doctor, attend postpartum support group, do CBT, do talk to your family and ask for help…just do not waste your time googling. Remember that everyone eventually recovers (if there are no pre-existing mental health issues); it is just a matter of time.
              Thank you very much for blogging. This is a wonderful resource and a place to start a journey to recovery. It gives hope to a lot of moms. A friend of mine said: “Hmmm. I know babies don’t sleep but I have never heard of moms not sleeping when babies sleep”. Well, that did not help. So, it was great to come across your blog and know that it is not that unusual for a mom not to sleep when baby sleeps.
              Thank you for all you work!

              • Thank you so much for making me feel better. I am different from some Moms. I am already suffering bipolar and ptsd with severe anxiety and depression and that makes me worry so much it keeps me up. I am scared I will have worse than the baby blues and need to be hospitalized or I will never get better again.

                • Krystal,
                  I am glad you are seeing your doctor on Tuesday. Like Lena said, please tell the doctor (whether he/she be a medical or mental healthcare practitioner) all your symptoms. Don’t leave any details out. Now’s the time to act and get the help you need before it spirals, especially now that you have indicated you have suffered from bipolar and PTSD w/severe anxiety and depression. These are risk factors for postpartum mood disorders.

                • Hi Krystal,
                  Are you seeing a psychiatrist? If not, ask to get referred ASAP by your general practitioner. Having pre-existing condition, does not mean that you are not going to get better. I have not phrased it properly in my original response. You will get better with the right treatment. It might or might not take a different medication or a bit longer than it took some other moms who has no pre existing conditions. Everyone is different. Also, if you feel that you need URGENT help, please go to a hospital. I know that you mentioned that you are afraid of hospitalization but I can not stress enough how important it is to seek IMMEDIATE help if you feel that the situation is getting out of control. You will get better Krystal!

            • Just wanted to reassure you that you will get better! I was so scared as I went through horrible postpartum insomnia/anxiety and depression after my son was born 2 years ago. I’m doing great, it took about 6 months cause I as resistant to to taking meds, but once I got on zoloft at 125 Mg and trazodone for sleep, I was better!

  27. This blog was heaven sent to me today. I’m coming off Celexa after battling insomnia and anxiety attacks that started about 6 weeks post partum. Last night was more of the old song and dance. And you know what? It’s just nice to know I’m not alone. Thanks for sharing your story. Sometimes I wonder how some mother’s DON’T go through this. WE JUST CREATED ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. Of course the wheels are going to come off…they have to be reassembled in a new way.
    To all you other mamas out there going through this…stay strong! You are NOT alone. (You are never alone. Read Joshua 1:5:) And you know what? You’re going to make it through this.

    • Hi, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comments. Glad my post resonated with you. Your symptoms, including when they started, sound so much like mine! Glad to hear you’re on the recovery path. You sound like you are very interested in helping other moms feel less alone. Perhaps join an online or in-person support group to provide support to other PPD sufferers?

  28. I could have written this post. My son will be 10 months old in a couple days and I’m STILL having trouble staying asleep. I can usually fall asleep ok, but stay asleep is another matter. Almost every night I wake up one hour after I’ve just fallen asleep. I do have a counselor and psychiatrist who is willing to give me an Rx for anti-depressants but I haven’t bit the bullet yet.

    I started having insomnia the night our son was born. You’re absolutely right- the nurses and doctors are constantly waking you in the hospital. What a joke that is. I remember pleading with the nurse to take our son out of the room for 3 hours undisturbed. And I still didn’t fall asleep. I can’t believe it’s still going on to this day.

    The other fun part of my story is now I am also dealing with chronic pain. I’ve seen multiple doctors trying to get a diagnosis for SOMETHING. Now I don’t know if the pain in my back and legs is waking me in the night, or if the sleep deprivation is causing chronic pain in my body.

    Your article has really made me think I should start some kind of drug. There has to be something out there that can help me.

    • Hi Caitlin, I am glad you found my blog. Wow, your son is nearly 10 mos old and you have had insomnia since he was born? Did your psychiatrist/counselor diagnose you with a postpartum mood disorder? Have you ever had insomnia before? The chronic pain can be a consequence of having untreated insomnia (and depression/anxiety that’s causing the insomnia) for an extended period of time. Have you seen a general practitioner to do blood work and see if everything is okay from a physical standpoint and to eliminate any other factors, like hyperthyroidism, that could be causing your insomnia? How’s your appetite and has your weight been fluctuating?

      I had back pain and left hand numbness issues (which turned out to be a pinched nerve from misaligned vertebrae), both of which were resolved by a few visits to my chiropractor. You might want to see a chiropractor (and I only wish I could refer mine to you…I live in NJ). He worked some true miracles as far as my back issues are concerned! Before I went to see him, I was the ever Doubting Thomas when it comes to chiropractic procedures. After my treatment was over, I am a firm believer in the work that they do! This guy took an x-ray of my back, showed me where the misalignment was, explained how it was causing the numbness radiating down my shoulder, arm and to my fingers, treated me for a couple of months, and when it was over, took another x-ray. The before and after shots were very eye opening! So, you might want to try going to a chiropractor first, because you must might need some repeated adjustments. Pregnancy, as you know, can really do a number on a woman’s body!
      Please keep me posted!

      • Hi, ivy-

        Thanks for the reply!

        Yes, I have been seeing a chiro for about 4 months now. And I have had lots of labwork done. My last box to check off is to be tested for Lyme disease (I was bit by a tick when I was pregnant, but never developed a rash.) I’m actually doing much better this week with the help/support of family and friends. I was never diagnosed as having PPD, and I did speak to 2 specialists in the field- I have been in therapy for several years. The insomnia has been off and on for me. It didn’t help that my son wasn’t sleeping through the night until one week ago! I think that insomnia breeds anxiety which causes insomnia…it is a vicious cycle for me. I was also told I am a Hyper Sensitive Person so I am always very aware of everything in my body, especially when things are “off”, which they always are after you have a baby. So I have been struggling with that. I assumed that since I had insomnia I must have PPD but I don’t think that has been the case for me. I think the main issue has been not being so hyper-vigilant about everything with my son.

        Thank you so much for your post. It is truly a blessing to not feel so alone in all if this.

        • Hi Caitlin, Good to hear from you again! I’m glad to hear you are doing better this week and now seeing a chiro! Hope the pain in your back/legs eases soon! You may not have PPD, after all, eh? I am also a hyper sensitive person. Have your therapist been able to provide any CBT or other approaches to help you address your hypervigilant tendencies? As your son gets older, things will get easier and hypervigilance should be less of a factor. Perhaps try some meditation, yoga and/or acupuncture? Please keep me posted on your progress! Take good care.

  29. Hypervigilance. Thank you!!! This is exactly what I’m going through. It’s not a worry, per se, just not at all being able to relax & come down from being aware. My husband doesn’t understand at all. The week of his birth, 8 days to be exact, I got 10 hours of sleep. 2 days laboring, 3 days after c-section, & bye weekend at home. He sleeps perfectly,usually takes 2 naps…. It’s just very hard to turn my mind off. I am so, so tired. (5 months pp). At this point, I think 2 hours of deep sleep would do a world of good. 😦

    • Hi there – thanks so much for reading my post and leaving a comment. Hypervigilance almost seems like the natural state of all new moms, the level of which is determined a lot by how much help you are getting, what your personality is, how your childbirth went, and your baby’s disposition. You’re 5 months postpartum? Are you breastfeeding? Can you get help to watch your baby so you can get 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep for a couple days in a row?

      • Yes, breast feeding & bedsharing. He honestly sleeps very well, but I have a rough time of it not bc I’m physically uncomfortable, but just mentally very much still “on guard.”

        • You may have a bit of postpartum anxiety. I would keep an eye on that because I really would not like to see it spiral (like it did for me) into something much worse and that required meds to resolve (had no choice if I wanted to recover from the insomnia, depression and panic attacks). It got ugly for me so quickly and suddenly.

  30. I can’t even express what it feels like to read this post. Maybe comparable to getting a good night of sleep coming from an insomniac? Everything that you wrote seems to be exactly what I am going through. And it is reassuring that it is not just me.
    I have been having insomnia for the past 3 weeks and it has been getting progressively worse. I went to my OB last week who screened me for PPD but I don’t think I answered the questions as honestly as I could have. After coming home with a prescription of Ambien, I looked at the questions again with my husband and came to the realization that I did have PPD/PPA. I still wasn’t able to sleep well with the Ambien (~3 hours) and was so exhausted that I didn’t even trust myself to drive anywhere.
    I went back to my OB and primary care and decided to go on Zoloft. I just started this past Friday and with your post, emailed my doctor to get a prescription for Ativan to help for the panic attacks at night.
    Thank you for writing about your experience and sharing it. It has helped me tremendously. Hoping the Zoloft kicks in soon.

    • Thanks for stopping by, reading my post, and leaving a comment! I can imagine you feel great relief seeing that I shared a similar insomnia/panic attack experience as you…right after having a baby. In fact, as you can see from the number of comments, many new moms have had similar experiences to you and me. Until you start to be able to get more sleep, definitely try to let others drive you around. You should start to feel more yourself soon. I am so glad my post has empowered you to be able to speak with your doctor about your treatment options. In fact, it looks like you’ve taken matters into your own hands. Good for you! It will take a few weeks for the Zoloft to become effective, and a much shorter time for the Ativan to help w/your panic attacks. Hope you feel more yourself soon…in the meantime, please keep me posted on your recovery progress! Take good care, Ivy

    • How did you know when the Paxil worked? Did you try to go to bed one night without Ambien/Xanax and it worked?

      • Yes, at almost exactly four weeks from the time I started taking Paxil, I had a gut feeling that I should go ahead and give sleeping without Ambien a try, and it worked. By that time, I was already off my Xanax.

        • Hi Ivy – it’s been a few months since I’ve commented here. I just wanted to give you an update. Since June, I started on Zoloft, titrated myself up to 100 mg a day over a few weeks. In addition, my doctor suggested that I take trazodone 25 – 50 mg every night. I was only using it when i felt desperate – I was resistant to taking meds since I was/am still breasfeeding by baby. My doctor suggested I take it routinely to break the insomnia cycle and to let the Zoloft kick in. So for a few months, I have been regularly taking Zoloft/Trazodone before bed every night. I had Ativan as back-up but never needed to use it. A few weeks ago I started to taper myself off Zoloft.

          I feel great and have been feeling great for a few months now. It took over 4 weeks for everything to normalize. Thank you again for blog post. Your post gave me hope and was the catalyst for my road to recovery.

  31. Wow. Reading this blog, it feels like I could have written it myself. I am currently in the midst of dealing with post partum insomnia. I too think this began in the hospital being woken up every hour. I thought coming home would be my solution. At about 2 weeks, the problem seemed to correct itself and then came back with a vengence 4 days later. I am 6 weeks post partum and still using Ambien for sleep. I began zoloft (i am still breastfeeding) about 2 weeks ago and I am not yet feeling better. My OB referred my to a phychiatrist at my last visit who I will see on Friday. I was curious when you started feeling “better”? on the Paxil. How did you knwo you could stop taking ambien at 30 days? I am just looking for a light at the end of the tunnel and would love to hear more specifics. Thank you for writing this blog. It is nice to know I am not alone. Like many people, I did not understand or appreciate post partum depression prior to my experience and I feel like everyone needs more education, including doctors. Mine seems perplexed by my situation and makes me feel like I am the only one.

    • Hi Kim, Well, I am very glad you found my blog too! I am glad to hear you will be seeing a therapist on Fri. I see you’ve been on Zoloft for about 2 wks. It took 4 wks for my Paxil to kick in. I started taking it on 2/26 and was able to return to work by 3/16. Before then, my panic attacks had stopped (don’t remember exactly when), so I was off the Xanax. I can’t remember exactly what prompted me–other than my just having a gut feeling that I was ready–to try going off the Ambien on 3/19, but I did…and I slept overnight without it! Don’t know if I could’ve succeeded without the Ambien earlier, but I was ever so grateful to be off it, because I was so frightened about having to rely on it for the rest of my life. By August, I started to wean off the Paxil. About a year after I started taking the Paxil, I was weaned off of it.

      You are far from alone in experiencing postpartum insomnia. This post is one of my most frequently visited blog posts…hit numerous times every day. You will see a light at the end of the tunnel! You are absolutely right…doctors definitely need to be educated. If I had my way, all OB/GYNs should be required to take X number of hours of perinatal mood disorder training. What a HUGE difference that would make! Since about 1 out of 7 new moms experience a postpartum mood disorder, they should absolutely be trained to screen, diagnose and treat them…and if not, at least make an appropriate referral to someone who can!

      Please keep me posted on your recovery, and let me know if you have any other questions!

      • I continue to struggle with post partum insomnia. I had about 5 good days where I was able to fall asleep on my own, but then had a bad night and it spiraled again. My son is not sleeping through the night right now (8 weeks) and I think anytime my body gets out of a rhythm, I fall back into the same insomnia pattern. I am on zoloft still and wondering if I need a higher dose. I had horrible side effects on zoloft, but they seem t have subsided. I am really hoping zolft is the right med for me and that this gets better. I go back to the phychiatrist today. She also perscribed ativan, but I am still breastfeeding and very worried about taking it. I did try it one night and it made me calmer, but I did not fall asleep.

        • Hi Kim,
          You’ve been on the Zoloft for about 4 weeks now. It’s great that you had about 5 good days and the side effects have subsided…it’s a sign that you are getting better, right? What did your psychiatrist say when you saw them today? Did they suggest upping your dosage? Did you ask the psychiatrist if it was okay to BF while on Zoloft and Ativan? I don’t think a benzo like Ativan would instantaneously work…at least I don’t recall Xanax having an immediate effect on me. I know benzo’s don’t require a period of a few wks to reach a therapeutic dosage, but you probably need to give it more than one day to see how it can help with your sleep (in combo with the Zoloft…which as you know you can’t just stop suddenly).
          Please keep me posted…and take good care!

          • The psychiatrist is increasing my dose of zoloft up 12.5 mg this week and another 12.5 next week to 75mg. She said it was fine to bf with my small dose of Ativan at night 1mg. She said it has a short half life and pumping 5-6 hours later should be safe. I really hope that is true. The last thing I need is to worry about medicine hurting my baby, but everyone tells me the small amount that may go into the breast milk is nothing compared to the benefits of breast milk… I am hoping the increased does of zoloft helps as ambien on seems to keep me asleep for 3 hours at a time these days. What a frustrating struggle. Thank you for being so responsive and supportive. Some day I hope I can use this experience to help people . I am off to Accupuncture now. Trying just about everything at this point.

            • Hi Kim,
              Wow, they are upping the dose twice in 2 wks to 75 mg? Once you are well, it would be awesome if you could share your experiences to help others, like I’m doing. Let me know how the acupuncture works out for you! You are doing the right things…and I am sure in a couple of weeks you will be sleeping better. I am SO looking forward to hearing that good news!

              • Ivy,

                My son is almost one year old and I wanted to give you and anyone reading this blog a quick update. I was able to get my anxiety and insomnia under control with the combination of Zoloft and Ativan. I started weaning from the Zoloft when my son was about 7 months old. I also moved back to .25mg or .5 mg of Ativan at night. I stopped breastfeeding my son at 9 months old and was surprised to feel similar anxiety and insomia to what I felt after his birth. It seems the hormone shift when stopping breastfeeding caused a shake up for my anxiety. I moved up my dose of Ativan at night to combat that transition and started birth control to regulate the hormones. That has helped and I am again weaning back on the Ativan with the hope that I can be off it 100% in the near future. It is nice to know I have tools in my arsenal should I have a bad night so I don’t spiral with worry. It has been a long road and I am still on the path to recovery. I just wanted to share this update. I am feeling great and seeing my therapist regularly to ensure I continue on that path. I am also working locally to volunteer with other post partum mamas. I was so lost and confused during my post partum and I want to help other women in the same situation, much like your blog did for me. Thank you for helping me so much in such a difficult time of my life. We have never met and you might be one of the most important people to have touched my life this year. Keep up the great work.

                • Oh, Kim, I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear such good news and know that I was able to help. I am glad to hear you are helping out moms locally, that your experience has motivated you to do so, similar to how my experience motivated me to blog and write my book. I hope to meet you some day. Please do stay in touch. I will send you an email with my contact info. Warmly, Ivy

  32. Oh Ivy, I’m right there with you. Thank you for sharing your story! Your post is exactly what I am going through right now. I have a 14 week old who has been colicky. I used to be able to sleep when he was asleep but he is still not sleeping through the night and over the last week I am unable to fall asleep in between feedings and have basically had about 1-3 hrs of sleep a night. It has been such a long winter with the cold in the northeast and between this and his colic, it has taken everything in me to get through these days of feeling so isolated. I saw my midwife this week and actually was started on Paxil as well. I have some ambien that I am going to use in the meantime. I really do hope that the Paxil is effective in helping me turn off my brain from the constant anxiety. It is tremendously helpful to hear your experience and know that you made it through this!
    All the best!

    • Hi Jennie,
      I’m glad you found my blog post about postpartum insomnia, which has helped you feel less alone. Yes, you WILL make it through this, just as I have! I am very glad to see you are getting the help you need! Good thing the long and cold winter has come to an end! Cold, short days staying cooped up in the house–not to mention with a colicky baby–are no friends to new moms, that’s for sure! Now that the weather is sunnier and warmer, try to get outside more. If you could, please try to keep me posted. I have your email address and we can keep up a correspondence, if you wish.
      Hugs to you,

  33. Ivy, not sure if you are still supporting this blog. I wanted to thank you for this wonderful blog. I would love to email you directly as I have some questions and am going through a similar process.

      • Ivy believe it or not, this is my 2nd round. With my first son, it took a few months to resolve itself with therapy and cbt. With the second one, he is 9 months and I am still battling the awful insomnia. I am at my wits end and really need someone to talk to. I have called the hot line but no one called me back. If you have any free time, I would love to speak with you. I completely understand if you are too busy. Thanks so much again for your wonderful blog. –may

          • Hi May,
            I am going through exact same thing, I had insomnia with my 1st son but it was not as bad and it resolved in 2-3months on its own. This time I am losing my hope to get better. My son is almost 4 months old, I barely sleep 3-4 hours per night and this is with sleeping pills. I am seeing dr for my insomnia issues but I am losing my hope since I already tried Ambien, Trazadone and Apo Oxazepam (benzo). I am not breastfeeding due to another issue. These pills help me to fall asleep but I am waking up after 2-3 hours and not able to get back to sleep on most nights.
            Hi Ivy, Thank you very much for this blog. Did you have trouble to maintain sleep in addition to falling asleep? How long did it take you to get better?
            I would really like to get in touch with people who are going through this right now .

            • I had the exact same problem, some of the sleeping medications would get me to sleep but I would wake up an hour or two or three later and not be able to fall back asleep. It wasn’t until I got to a therapeutic dose of Zoloft which ended up being 125 mg, that all these issues resolved. Then I was able to wean off of all of the sleep medications except melatonin. When my son turned 18 months about two months ago, I weaned off of Zoloft completely and have been doing great. Don’t be afraid of the antidepressants, sometimes that is the key.

                • I’m struggling with whether I want to have another one. Do you hear from women who get it multiple times??

                  Sent from my iPhone


                  • Michelle,
                    I’ve heard cases of women getting it with 2 out of 3 kids, or 2 out of 2 or 1 of 2….all different situations. I believe with a couple of them that were able to keep PPD away was because they came up with a specific plan with their therapists that included meds during pregnancy. Brooke Shields was able to ward off PPD w/her 2nd child, though she does not specify what she did to prevent it (not sure if she took meds or if she made sure to get enough help once baby arrived).

                  • Michelle, this is my second time around. Another lady in this comment thread also mentioned that it is her second time. Actually, my Dr mentioned today that women who had PPD/Anxiety/Insomnia are more likely to have it in subsequent pregnancies. Also, sometimes, the symptoms are worse in subsequent pregnancies. This is my case. Not only I got my insomnia back but it got worse than I had it when my 1st child was born…maybe because I have two kids and more responsibility…This is not to discourage you from having another child. I had a plan too, which included my mom coming from abroad and staying with us for the 1st month. When she left, I made it through February on my own but then in March my insomnia came back. Again, this is not to discourage you from having another child. And thank you and Ivy for information and support. It means a lot.

                    • Thanks ladies. I know I have a big chance of getting it again but mine was pretty severe and started as soon as I came home from the hospital with my son. I am surprised I made it through without the psych ward, I would tell my husband every night to take me to the hospital because I wanted to die. I think I will lost definitely need the meds again. I’m trying to get all my ducks in a row but honestly I’m scared. Last time it was severe insomnia and anxiety, panic attacks, them depression. All I know is I am better for having gone through it. Good luck to you, wishing you a speedy recovery!!

            • Hi Lena, I am glad you found my blog. Yes, I suffered from major insomnia issues where I could not fall asleep and when I woke up a few hrs later could not fall back asleep. Once the Paxil took effect 4 wks later, I was able to fall asleep and stay asleep without Ambien. But I was on Paxil for about a year altogether. Trazodone is an antidepressant and the benzo is for the anxiety. May I ask how long you’ve been on the Trazodone? It usually takes four to six weeks for antidepressants to have a therapeutic effect. Let me know if you have any other questions. Just remember that I went through this and am now fine, and you will be too!

              • Thank you very much for your replies. It really helps to hear that people went through a similar experience and got better. I just had my appointment with Dr who specializes in postpartum mood disorders and am starting Remeron and CBT. If Remeron does not work out, I will start Zoloft. I was prescribed Cipralex a month ago by my GP prior to referral to postpartum mood disorders clinic; I did not tolerate it very well, I got extremely anxious and dizzy. Zoloft is from the same family as Cipralex. That is the reason why I will be trying Remeron first, Ivy, I could not take trazadone because it caused tachycardiya, even though I do not have problems with my heart. It is one of the side effects of Trazadone. Michelle, how long did it take for Zoloft to start working for you and what sleeping medication worked best for you? Thank you again for all your support!

                • Lena,
                  I am glad you are seeing someone who specializes in PMDs! I hope the Remeron doesn’t cause any unpleasant side effects, and you can stay on it long enough for it to help! Please keep me posted!

                • It took me two months to feel better but more like 4-6 months to feel completely like myself again. This is because for the first month I didn’t take any medication then I only took about .25 mg of Zoloft and slowly worked my way up to 125mg over a few months because I was very apprehensive about taking medications because of their side effects. Don’t be nervous about taking them, you will get through this and you will likely not have to be on them forever. I took trazodone .50 mg to sleep and occasionally .25 mg of Xanax as needed on nights when I would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep, or if the baby was up and I needed to fall back asleep at some point during the middle of the night. Also exercis, yoga, walking, eating right, reading the book, this isn’t what I expected, going to a local postpartum support group all really helped. And a sound machine with ocean waves!

              • Hello!
                It’s been about 9 months since I diagnosed with PPD with my first child and starred on meds right away bc I just felt like an alien took over my body.. I experienced severe insomnia, anxiety and depression.. I’ve tapering down on zoloft now.. Took me 3 months to stop taking trazadone to sleep and now just taking 75mg is zoloft and I feel great. I’ve been back to work part time and just feel great. I want to thank ivy and so many women who are so brave to battle ppd.. There is help out there but remember to be patient with yourself ..
                It’s not your fault, ask for help and allow others to help you.. I’m crossing my fingers I can completely wean off meds and try for 2nd one again soon..
                Is there a grace period of weaning off zoloft before conceiving again without harm to baby?

                • Hi Christiana, thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment! I am happy to be able to help in some small measure other moms who are battling PPD like I did. I recommend you speak with your doctor as to their recommendation with respect to weaning off Zolof and how long before you should try to have another baby.

            • Lena, sorry for the late response. If you would like to set up an email correspondence or anyone else in this thread, I’d be happy to email back and share my experience since I am still in the midst of it. My second time is 100x’s worse than my first time. With my first one, it took about a few weeks to resolve with CBT. My second one, I am on heavy medication. My email is

  34. I want to thank you for this! I wish it was around back in 2008, after the birth of my 2nd son. I seriously thought I was the only person in the world who felt as if she forgot how to sleep. I went through a TERRIBLE experience. Like you, I was completely fine for the first 6 wks. Then one night, I went to bed and NEVER fell asleep. This lasted for FOUR MONTHS. I slept between 0-4 hrs a night for those months. I was convinced I would never sleep again. I was depressed, anxious and suicidal. Finally, I saw a psychiatrist. I used to be a person who wouldn’t take an aspirin. Not anymore. The doctor prescribed Remeron (mirtazapine) and it saved my life! I have even decided to stay on a low dose (7.5 mg) for life.

    • Hi, so glad you found my blog, even though it’s now 5 years after you had your son. You’re like me, finding resources years after surviving our postpartum experiences. I don’t know how you lasted for 4 months without sleeping, before seeking the help of a psychiatrist?! You are one tough mama! And I am very glad you found a treatment that worked for you!

    • Happy new year! I hope this note finds you well (and you are notified of this comment), but I’m wondering if I can put someone in touch w/you that’s suffering from a bad bout of PPD/PPA and is on Remeron and Zopiclone. She is seeking someone who has taken Remeron before. Thank you!

  35. Sorry, to continue – I may have to be on Zoloft for rest of my life and I’m fine with this as long as I never feel that way again. I consider it my daily serotonin vitamin. I’m sure you will feel better once Prozac kicks in again. Good luck

  36. Hello, I have been reading a million blogs and websites to try and find some solution to my insomnia. It was so good to see your description of what you went through because its exactly like mine. The only difference is I didn’t have a baby or have ppd, my insomnia started out of no where nad escalated from the fear of not sleeping. I took ambien and it worked great the first night, but the second night not at all. I convinced myself that it still wouldn’t help me sleep and it didn’t. I’m going on a month of little sleep and dragging myself to work, but now its so bad, I’m not sleeping at all and feeling beyond miserable. I don’t want to go to work like this and fear this will never ever end. I’m already on prozac so not sure why this is happening. I have an appointment with a therapist in a few days. I just feel so alone and so bad for my husband who I am waking during the night for some comfort. He is upset because he can’t help me. My anxiety about all this keeps escalating and now I haven’t eaten in days. My mind and body have shut down on me, I feel horrible. I’m so happy to see there was a light at the end of your tunnel, I hope there is a light for me!

    • Hi Addie,
      I’m glad you found my blog and it has helped you see there are others who have struggled with insomnia. I am glad you are seeing a therapist, but you should also get blood work done (if you haven’t done so already). This might be thyroid related…or there might be something else going on physically that is causing the insomnia. Your insomnia and lack of appetite suggest you are in the midst of a bout of depression. How long have you been on Prozac, and why did your doctor prescribe it? And this may have something to do with hormonal changes going on. I hope between your GP and your therapist, you will get to the bottom of this and see the light at the end of the tunnel! Please keep me posted!
      All the best,

    • Thanks Ivy! I have been on Prozac for five years, originally for anxiety and just started weening myself off when all this started. I am back on the regular dose but let this spiral so out of control that I need help. I actually start a program tomorrow for two weeks for adults with anxiety. I will ask them about the blood work. The program is at a hospital so I assume they would do that too, but I will see! Thank you so much!


      • Hi Addie, I had the same problem when trying to wean off Zoloft (was on it to treat ppd following birth of my second child). So I went back on Zoloft and have been it it for five years now. Prepared to take it for rest of my life. My doctor says its fine to take long term. I’m sure you will feel better once Prozac kicks in. Good luck.

  37. I just wanted to thank you for your truthfulness about ppd. My baby just turned 8months a week ago. She’s been sleeping through the night since she was 2 months old. I did see my ob/gyn around 3 months postpartum for issues with breast feeding. While there I cried and explained everything that was going on (not sleeping, crying, in a daze, just going through the motions). He put me on Prozac. It didn’t work. I became more withdrawn and got even less sleep.
    I saw my gp and he put me on celexa. I didn’t notice any changes after 2 months.
    So, here I am, 8 months postpartum, still not sleeping, eating like a cow and feeling miserable. I do have an appointment with a new gp this week and I’m hoping he can help, finally!
    My first kiddo is 11 years old this month. I had ppd with him and never knew it. I just thought it was normal feeling that bad all the time.
    Right before I gave birth in November, my very best friend died 14 days before hand. I’m sure that attributed to the ppd this time.
    Sorry for the long post, but I truly wanted to thank you for making me feel not so alone in this journey.

    • Hi Dana,
      Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment, which by the way isn’t long at all…so please no apologies necessary! I am glad you found my blog helpful! Have you considered seeing a psychiatrist (please try not to worry about my mentioning this), as there might be other underlying issues at hand that they could help with? You can also call the PSI warm line at 800-944-4ppd. You might be able to find someone experienced with treating ppd in your area through them and they might have suggestions for you. Please keep me posted on how things go! Wishing you well. -Ivy

      • Thanks, Ivy, for the suggestions. I met with the doctor and he did give me two prescriptions, one for sleeping and one for anxiety/OCD. Also, he said it would be beneficial to seek out counseling. So, no offense taken from your suggestion about it. I feel better at having a new direction to take. And, I’m sure I’ll feel even better once I start sleeping and taking the meds regularly. The doctor did say I had OCD with my thoughts along with the anxiety. I will follow up with the doctor in 6wks to stay on top of meds this time.

        Thank you, again!

  38. Hi! Im new here and found your blog very helpful. I had bad anxiety and trouble sleeping since my daugher was born it lasted about 3 weeks but then I felt better and was getting used to only getting 4-5 hrs of interrupted sleep during the night. I am a morning person and could not nap during the day but was ok with that. Just this past week my daughter is now 2 months old, she started waking up again every 2 hrs to nurse prob due to growth spurt, I had another episode of mastitis and had argument with my husband. I noticed that i was having trouble sleeping again and eventually one night did not sleep at all.. I saw a pyschiatrist and was prescribed zoloft for sleep and instructed to take benadryl to help me sleep while waiting for zoloft to kick in. Sadly, bendarly has not worked. My anxiety seems to be getting worse and still cant sleep. took trazadone last night and it worked. WIll I ever be normal again? I dont have any hx of anxiety, depression or trouble sleeping before.

    • Hi Christiana,
      Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment! May I ask whether you had a pretty uneventful childbirth? I am surprised your psychiatrist would recommend Benadryl to help you sleep before your Zoloft kicks in. I have not heard that Benadryl can help when there is depression/anxiety. Trazadone, another antidepressant, is (unlike Zoloft, which is an SSRI like Paxil, which is what I took) a selective catecholamine (norepinephrine and dopamine) reuptake inhibitor. It may be prescribed along with an SSRI, but from what I have read is not recommended for patients exhibiting anxiety and/or insomnia since it may cause increased anxiety/agitation.

      Note: I am not a medical or mental healthcare professional. I am merely telling you what I have learned from all that I read while writing my book. You may want to speak to someone else about it…perhaps get a second opinion on the Trazadone.

      I was never diagnosed with depression before, nor did I ever have insomnia before. I think some women are sensitive to drops in estrogen (that occurs during/after childbirth) and that sensitivity amounts to mood disorders for some. I took Xanax for a short time until the Paxil kicked in. Once the Paxil kicked in, which was 4 wks after I started taking it, I was able to sleep without Ambien, I was able to smile again, and my anxiety and panic attacks subsided. I pretty much returned to my old self, though I did have to stay on the Paxil for about a year because that’s how long it took for me to completely wean off of it.

      I didn’t know what was happening to me. I was afraid I was never going to return to my old self again….but I did. You will too! If you feel you need to speak with someone experienced with helping moms cope with PPD, feel free to reach out to the PSI warmline 800-944-4PPD.

      • Hi ivy!
        Thank you! I did have a pretty traumatic natural delivery did most of my labor at home and was tolerating labor pains fine then suddenly pain suddenly became unbearable but it was too late for epidural and was terrified bc if I didn’t push baby out quickly I had to go to emergency c-section. Luckily, I made it through and baby is healthy.
        As soon as I took her home I felt so foggy, excited and nervous at the same time . My husband just started a new job so it was just me and baby alone since day 1. I felt baby blues crying , depressed and anxious and had trouble sleeping from day 1- week 3 but when my mom came to visit me for a week to help me out and keep me company I felt better and thought sx were gone. However, just one week ago , my 2 month old kept waking up every 1 hrs again, fussier so i was getting less sleep again. In addition, husband and i got into small arguments and made me feel that baby is my sole responsibility. One night, i could not sleep at all and since then i still can’t.
        My psych put me in zoloft and since I decided to stop breastfeeding she prescribed trazadone. I’ve been on zoloft for 5 days but I do notice that it made me more anxious . Is that normal? My mom in law who has anxiety told me that i should have been prescribed a benzo while waiting for zoloft to kick in. Im not happy with the way my psych handled my Care so I’m looking for someone who specialies in ppd.
        I did take my mom in law klonopin small dose before sleep with trazadone and zoloft and i feel better and getting more sleep.’
        I just hope someday I won’t have to be on any of the meds and back to normal.

        • Hi Christiana,
          Sounds like you had somewhat of a traumatic childbirth experience…one that certainly didn’t help you in putting you on sure footing as you began your motherhood experience. The first postpartum weeks are extremely challenging…totally not the instinctive experience that so many moms seem to make it all seem. It’s even more challenging when you don’t have adequate support. So, you are on Zoloft and Trazadone at the same time? Like my last comment indicated, my understanding–and I could be wrong, after all, I am not a healthcare professional–is that Trazadone is not recommended for patients experiencing anxiety and/or insomnia. I was prescribed a benzo while waiting for the Paxil to kick in, so what your mom-in-law said does reflect common practice. What meds are prescribed depends on the patient and healthcare professional. I think it would be good for you to find someone who specializes in PPD, and do it sooner rather than later. Now, as for taking your mom’s meds…I think you are aware that it’s not recommended to take someone else’s meds. You definitely should not be mixing multiple meds together unless that is what a doctor has prescribed. They can worsen your symptoms!

          It may not seem like you will ever get better, but you will! Please check this website out and see if you can get in touch with a Postpartum Support Int’l state coordinator who will put you in touch with those who specialize in PPD.
          Take care,

      • Hi Christina,

        I experienced the same horrific insomnia upon coming home from hospital last July and it rapidly progressed to anxiety, panic attacks and depression. I was prescribed ambien and Ativan but they didn’t work for me (everyone is different) next I was prescribed Zoloft (but it took 6 months to allow myself to get to my therepeutic dose of 125mg) because I had anxiety and hated idea of taking it, side effects etc…).

        During that time I used Trazodone at 75mg to help sleep and the occasional Xanax for really bad nights. I have finally weaned off the traz 🙂 and havent taken Xanax in a long time. I also take 50mg of natural bioidentical progesterone at night (my levels were low( along with 5mg of melatonin now to help sleep.

        My psych was really hesitant about prescribing a benzo because they can be addicting. After research here on this blog (thanks Ivy!) and also on BabyCenter’s PPD support forum, I saw what worked for others and I advocated for myself and got a Rx for Xanax. It helped with the anxiety of laying in bed thinking I’m not going to be able to sleep!

        My best advice for you is to not be afraid of the antidepressant or going up to what seems like a high dose. I believe it will be the thing that helps you most. Good luck, you WILL be yourself again.

        • Hi there!
          I saw a ppd psychiatrist today and feel so much better he kept me on zoloft but instructed me to take it during the day instead of night time bc it can cause insomnia also prescribed trazadone prn for sleep and klonopin for panic attacks as needed. Hope someday I can be back to normal with no meds.

        • Hi Michelle!

          Its been two weeks of taking zoloft and seeing some decreased anxiety but still taking klonopin as needed especially since I just increased the dose to 50 mg every day this week which my MD says can increase anxiety and feeling wired so he told me to take it in the morning. Still having trouble staying asleep and cant get back to sleep after taking care of baby at night while taking trazadone 50 mg and klonopin at night, . I am so frustrated and cant wait to get better. Sometimes I wonder will I every get better and sleep without sleep aids ever again? I just feel so hopeless at times..

          • Hi Christiana,

            What dose of Zoloft are you on? You will need to be on that dose for at least 4 weeks to see its maximum effect. If after that long, you are still not sleeping well, speaking from my experience and the experience of the women who offered me advice, you will likely need an increase. Slowly but surely you will feel better and when you do, you will slowly and surely be able to wean yourself off the Klonopin, then the Trazodone. I am 11 months out and off all prescription sleep meds. Just taking melatonin. Hang in there mamma! Sending you a big hug.

            Sent from my iPhone

  39. I found your blog as I am wide awake at 2 in the morning but my 3 month old is fast asleep.i am physically exhausted but can’t get my mind to shut off. I will call my on obgyn tomorrow and get screened for ppd. Thanks for sharing your story. It has definitely convinced me to seek help and not let this go away as normal baby blues

    • Hi, I’m so sorry for not responding sooner. This is my first time at a PC all day (other than at work). I am glad you found my post and you are going to get screened for PPD. If your baby is 3 mos old, what is causing your insomnia is definitely not the blues. Please keep me posted. I am here to help in any way I can including providing you with encouragement and help in obtaining additional support/resources. Take care, Ivy

  40. Hi Ivy, this is a very interesting post, thank you very much for your story. My son is 13 months old now, and I had anxiety/insomnia from the day he was born. Perhaps even a few weeks before he was born. I was prescribed Ativan before he as born to help me sleep. I thought it was normal and I would go back to normal after the uncomfortable feeling of being pregnant was over. (my pregnancy was not that great, as I had pretty bad morning/all-day sickness for the first 3 months, had terrible acid reflux, and all the aches and pains that come with pregnancy). Along with that, I had to have a scheduled cesarean due to him being breech, and for me, the recovery from that was awful.

    At any rate, after my son was born, from day 1 I had trouble sleeping. My mind would be racing and couldn’t “shut off.” Of course, I also had worries about my son getting hurt, or SIDS or something. Like one person who posted, I was perhaps getting 2-3 hours a DAY, for probably the first 2 months.

    My son was a pretty bad sleeper anyway, and we actually had to hire a sleeping consultant because at 3 months he was still waking every 2 hours or so. She helped CONSIDERABLY (I recommend it for anyone who has a baby over 12 weeks that is not sleeping at least 4-5 hours straight). So, my son began to sleep through the night, sometimes perhaps waking once or twice as the months wore on, from things like teething, or rolling. I was still tossing and turning. For no reason.

    I was prescribed more Ativan, and sometimes took half a sleeping pill, but had to stop breastfeeding if I did this. I was at my wits end, and felt alone and exhausted, with my husband not really understanding and of course sleeping through the night with no problems. My son is now 13 months old, and I still perhaps get about 5 hours of sleep a day. 6 hours on a very GOOD day. So, rarely.

    So my question is basically, should I be on something else, is this postpartum, and will it go away on its own? Please, any advise would be wonderful.


    • Hi Laura,
      Thank you for sharing your experience and reaching out. I’m glad my blog and the comments you’ve read have helped you feel less alone in your experience. Anxieties that come with being a mother for the first time is really common too. Having adequate social support, esp. help with the baby from an experienced individual like a doula or female relative to provide assurance that the baby is doing just fine, is critical. To use sleep-challenged to describe a typical mother’s experience after just having had a baby is putting it mildly. Five to six hours of sleep isn’t too bad. That’s the amount of sleep I get on average everyday, and my daughter is eight! If you are able to sleep 5-6 hrs straight and not experience difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep (provided your little one is sleeping all that time or you have your husband take care of him so you can get sleep), then what you have is not really insomnia. If, however, you are having difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, then you are experiencing insomnia and you should discuss with your doctor. And do you have any other symptoms, like loss of appetite or weight loss? My advice to you is to see a mental healthcare professional about a proper diagnosis at this point, if you hadn’t already done so previously.

      Please keep me posted! Take care, Ivy

      • Thanks for responding Ivy. I definitely do not sleep 4 or 5 hours straight, that is throughout a night where I perhaps have 6-7 hours of time. So… I fall asleep, usually not too bad, but then wake up after about 2 hours and then I don’t fall asleep again for at least an hour. This is the pattern throughout the night, generally. When it was really bad, earlier on, I wouldn’t even be able to fall asleep at all… so there has been SOME improvement. However, I know I really need probably at least 6 or 7 hours of sleep regularly because I always have headaches and feel exhausted, and did get that sleep before I was pregnant and had the baby. I just don’t want to become dependent on sleeping pills, ativan, or any other drug. But of course, I don’t want these sleeping problems either!

  41. I just had my 3rd child on 10/22/12. I expected to have ppd just like I did with my 2nd child but I was fine. But suddenly at almost 6 weeks pp I can’t sleep and finding myself not wanting to get out of bed during the day but I force myself anyways. I feel terrible today because me and my 3 children sat at home all day because I just didn’t have the energy to take 3 kids out. I have my post partum check-up scheduled in two weeks so I guess I will see what they suggest.

    • Hi Maureen, Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment! Sorry to hear you are experiencing PPD again. This is not your fault, so please do not be so hard on yourself and feel terrible/guilty about what you are experiencing. How were you treated for PPD last time? If you were on medication the last time, the doctor will probably suggest putting you on the same meds. Can you see the doctor sooner? Wishing you all the best, and for a quick recovery! Feel free to reach out anytime.

      • Hi…. I feel like I could have written this. My insomnia developed when my baby turned 5 months. It came on suddenly! None of my doctors have been able to help! All my blood work has come out fine. Did your blood work come out fine too? Please let me know.

        • Hi Claudia,
          Yes, my blood work came out fine for thyroid hormones, iron levels, etc. sobi didn’t have postpartum thyroid iris or anemia. My symptoms were consistent with PPD. Did your doc diagnose you with PPD and if so prescribe meds?

          • Hi.. Thank you for your response. My dr. And obgyn say that I am not depressed and therefore do not have ppd. The Dr. prescribed ambien. I am trying to see someone who specializes in ppd but they all seem to be overbooked in my area. I feel as if I will never be able to sleep on my own. But reading your blog gives me some hope.

            • Hi Claudia,
              May I ask what other symptoms you have? Or is insomnia your only symptom? How long have you been suffering from insomnia? PPD can start up to as late as the time you decide to wean (from breastfeeding). Its been known to happen even up to 2 yrs postpartum. Did you make an appt, even if you have to wait a few wks? I would do that, if you haven’t already. If you haven’t already checked out to get in touch with your Postpartum Support Int’l state coordinator(s) for names of professionals in your area who can help you, pls do so.

              • Thank you for responding. My main symptom is insomnia and anxiety about not be able to sleep. I will try calling a professional tomorrow but recent attempts have not been successful. I have been told that these doctors are not taking any new patients. I will keep trying.

                • Claudia,
                  If you want, I can try to contact some people for you, if you can tell me the area you live. Also, I can send you an email (to the email address you have listed under your name) so we can start up a correspondence via email, if you wish. Let me know….

                  • YOu can email me and I will let you know where I live. THank you for your help. I am going tomorrow to submit application to the county mental health department but I heard it can take weeks or months to see a Psychiatrist and I do not even know if he can help. I read your “Next came the panic attacks” and my husband agreed that it sounds so similar to what I am going through right now. I wish doctors were better informed about PPD. Thank you for your help.

                    • Hi Claudia,
                      I am going to try to help you the best that I can because I remember all too well how bad my experience was for me, and I would never want anyone to go through what I went through, feeling helpless, alone and terrified. I hope you aren’t experiencing panic attacks as well? I will send you an email shortly.

  42. Thanks for the more info. It sounds like you had PPA based on the factors before it spiraled to PPD? I was told that anxiety can cause insomnia as well. My therapist who specializes in PPD doesn’t even think I have it. I am having what you experienced exactly. I am already on medication. Are u still dealing with the average 5 hrs of sleep daily? That’s what I get with waking up frequently. I was pressured to sleep for more than 7 hrs for health reasons thay caused me anxiety, but some function fine with less sleep (less than 8 hrs). I have to think positive. Agree?

    • Mandy, I didn’t really have higher than normal amts of anxiety after my baby was born. I was fine one day, and the next day had insomnia. It was that sudden and unexpected. Though, the 6 wks leading up to that point were one problem after another. You’d have to read my book to know all that paved the way for PPD to set in. My daughter is now nearly 8 yrs old. I had PPD back in early 2005.

      What meds are you on? Yes, you absolutely have to try to think as positively as you can. Getting 4-5 hrs of uninterrupted sleep is critical, which I know is not really possible if one breastfeeds (without pumping). Do you have enough emotional/practical support?

  43. I may have missed the whole story, but how did you determine that u had PPD just based on anxiety and insomnia? Were there more symptoms following the first symptom? I experienced insomnia and I am still struggling. I am more mad abt it. I do things and etc. just with a little bit low level of energy. Some blame it on breastfeeding. And so on. This or that. Thanks.

    • Hi Mandy, very good question. If you read my post “Next Came the Panic Attacks (,” you’ll see that I went from sleeping to not sleeping immediately, and within a couple of weeks started experiencing panic attacks when I didn’t get the right treatment (thanks to my OB/GYN only prescribing me Ambien when in actuality, I should’ve been prescribed Paxil) right away. At the same time I was experiencing panic attacks, I went from having a normal appetite to not having any at all. I couldn’t eat. Depression is generally characterized by changes in sleep/appetite (either can’t sleep/eat or sleep/eat too much). The causes of PPD are different for everyone. Everyone’s circumstances, inc. biopsychosocial risk factors, are what make everyone’s experience unique.

      Are you on meds now? Please let me know if you have any other questions, and if you need support. Hope full recovery is on its way soon!

  44. Hi Ivy,

    I had a son on July 18th and immediately began suffering post partum insomnia. Ambien and ativan didn’t really help and it went on for about 2-3 weeks with me getting 1-3 hours of sleep even when my husband took over all the night feedings. I started taking trazedone to help with sleep and that has worked a little but I’ve had to up the dose (100 mg to even get 4-5 hours of sleep). I’m also currently taking zoloft for about two weeks now but only 12.5 mg. which I guess is a really low dose. Do you remember what dose of Paxil were you on? At first I sort of resisted the meds cause of weight gain and side effects but t now I’m ready to try whatever to get back to sleeping more and being a pleasant person to be around. My poor husband is trying to be supportive but told me he’s really getting frustrated and tired of me being negative. I’m depressed that I’ve not been able to enjoy my son, I was terrified and thought I was going crazy many times. Been very forgetful, hard to concentrate and I’m upset that i had to stop breatsfeeding cause of sleep meds. Dr. wouldn’t prescribe anything but Zoloft to breastfeeding moms. Will i ever be normal? Will I ever have energy during the day and be able to fall asleep at night? When did you wean off your antidepressant?

    • Hi Michelle,
      My doctor started me on 12.5 mg of Paxil for a week after which he doubled the dosage to 25 mg. I stayed on Paxil for about a year altogether. I was also on Xanax for the first couple of weeks to help keep my panic attacks under control. The Paxil pretty much kicked in for me one month after I started taking it, and i was able to stop taking Ambien, sleep, and even return to work at that point. The dosage was halved within six months and it took me another six months to completely wean off the Paxil. Please note that different people’s biochemistry/ situation is different so the way one reacts to medications will be different. Some will be on meds for a shorter or longer timeframe. I faced the same fears as you when I was in the heart of my PPD. I feared I would be on meds forever and I would never return to my old self. But I did get off my meds and I am completely well again!

      • Thanks for the info Ivy. My doctor just upped my dose of Zoloft and I think it is increasing my anxiety a little. Did you experience that? Did you take the Paxil in the morning or night? Last night I got 4 hours of sleep after trazedone and Xanax. I’m do desperate, I don’t know of I’ll ever get better.

        • Hi Michelle, I took the Paxil in the AM. Taking Paxil did not increase my anxiety. You are on Zoloft, Trazedone AND Xanax? How long have you been on Xanax? It can take a couple of weeks for that to calm the anxiety/jitters down. I remember my feelings of desperation so I totally understand what you are going through right now. You WILL get better. I know that even a few hours can feel like an eternity, let alone a few days, but you need to let the meds to kick in and reach their therapeutic level. When that happens, you will feel SO MUCH better! If you need to reach me more often, just let me know…..we can email and/or chat by phone. Hang in there!

    • Michelle- I just wanted to let you know that I was in the exact same place as you are now 7 months ago. It will get better – I promise! I believed I would never sleep again and that is such a scary thought. It took about 6 weeks for the zoloft to kick in and I was on 50 mg then increased to 100 mg. When I increased my dose it increased my anxiety temporarily as well. I also took trazadone and ativan because the ambien didn’t help. I am now sleeping on my own and only taking zoloft! Stick with the medication for now because it will help you crawl out of this dark place. Take it one hour at a time and you will get through it!

      • Hi Lindsay,Thank you so much for sharing your situation that was so much like Michelle’s! I love to see moms helping other moms on the comment thread in this post. There are so many moms with insomnia and anxiety as initial/primary symptoms of PPD. My blog is hit numerous times each day via Google and other search engines using words like “postpartum insomnia,” “new mom insomnia,” “insomnia four weeks after childbirth,” “can’t sleep when the baby sleeps,” “can’t sleep six weeks postpartum,” and so on, which means that there are many moms out there who are going through what the 3 of us went through, in terms of insomnia as a symptom of PPD, beginning at around 40 days.

      • Thanks for the support ladies. It really helps, and if and when I’m back to normal I vow to help other moms suffering as well. I was at 12.5mg of zoloft for the past two weeks. Thy just upped my dose to 25 mg and I have noticed a little bit more anxiety. It sounds like I’m still on a really low dose, maybe I need to go up to sleep better. I slept ok last night. I took 75 mg of Trazedone fell asleep for an hour then was wide awake so took .25mg of Xanax and another 25mg of zoloft and slept ok, probably 5-6 hours. Did you guys also have the other symptoms of PPD/anxiety? Hard to conceentrate, brain fog, depressed, crying, anger, etc … Did you breastfeed while on trazedone etc? Myt psychiatrist wouldn’t even prescribe abything to help sleep unless I wasn’t breastfeeding. I am still upset that I coiuldn’t breast feed for my son and for my weight loss efforts. And since all this happened to me right when I came home from hospital, I have not even had a chance to bond with my 6 week old son, I really have no concern for him most days other than meeting his basic needs.Feeling better today so I’m optimistic that it will get better but I should probably go to therapy to help deal with the anger of, “why did this happen to me,” etc…

        • Oh yes. All of those things happened to me (brain fog, couldn’t concentrate, upset, crying, fighting with my husband, not bonding with my baby, INSOMNIA). Eventually the zoloft helped with all of these things. I would definitely go and talk to someone about all of your feelings. It will help! Eventually I stopped wondering “why this happened to me” because I started realizing it’s made me a stronger woman and mother. You will get there too!

          • Ivy and Lindsay, how long was it on the meds before you felt like your normal self? Recovered from PPD and insomnia? I seem to be having better days but still having bad hours with depressed thoughts (I just want to be my old happy, productive, loving self) and the sleeping is still not easy. I can get maybe 5 hours with help of trazedone and Xanax.

            • Michelle, As I mentioned earlier, I was able to feel more like my normal self about 1 month after taking the Paxil. I was off the Xanax in about 2 wks. I was completely off the Ambien about 1 month after taking the Paxil, so I was able to sleep again at that point. Hard to say when I actually fully recovered from PPD. I felt as if I could go off of Paxil completely within 6 months but had to stay on for another 6 months, as that’s how long it took for me to wean. Five hours is pretty good! That’s how much sleep I get each night, on average, during the week nowadays. Rest assured, you will be yourself again! I know it’s hard to believe, but you will! It just takes a little time (and again, everyone is different, so please don’t go exactly by my situation).

            • Michelle – I would say I started having better days within 6 weeks of starting the zoloft and sleep meds. I believe it was the zoloft that has helped me so much becuase the sleep meds are short-acting. I was on a much higher dose of zoloft from the start (50 mg) and then increased to 100 mg. At first I was feeling some relief from the anxiety in small doses, but as night approached I would fear bedtime. Within a couple months the better hours slowly started outnumbering the bad hours, and then about 4 months inI slept without sleep meds for the first time! That was a major turning point. Five hours of sleep is good, especially with a newborn. I also recommend reading “Say Goodnight to Insomnia” by Gregg D. Jacobs. It helped me have more positive thoughts about sleep. The reality is this happens to a lot of people. You have already done so much to help yourself by asking for help. Keep up the good work and you’ll get past this!

        • Michelle, Your doc prescribed 2 antidepressants to take at the same time, along with Xanax? I experienced insomnia, panic attacks, loss of appetite, weight loss, difficulty concentrating, brain fog. I stopped BFing as soon as I started the Paxil and Xanax. I felt bad in those weeks before my meds took effect that I was not able to enjoy/bond w/my baby, but as soon as my meds hit, I was back to smiling and interacting w/her. You will be able to do so too, as soon as your meds kick in. I know you want to fast forward to that point. You will get there, you truly will. It already sounds like you are making some progress. During your recovery, you will experience good and bad days with the good ones exceeding the bad. In the interim I would recommend you talk to a therapist to help cope with your feelings. Unless you are an established patient, though, there may be a bit of a lead time. You could also talk to a psychiatric advanced practice nurse. You can google that term plus the area you live in for that info. You can also go to the site to search for a local PSI contact who can help you find local support.

          • Thanks Ivy. She just wanted to give me Zoloft at first but I was desperate for something to sleep. Trazedone is an antidepressant also used as a sleep aid. I am taking that but even that stopped really helping, makes me s little tired but only puts me diwn for an hour then i wake up so Xanax is the only thing working right now. I’m on a very low dose of Zoloft.   

            • Hey Ivy, sorry… One last question. How did you and your dr know you were ready to wean off the ambien and Xanax? Or did you just start feeling confident enough to go to sleep on your own? I’m just wondering how you knew that was the right dose of Paxil for you? Also did you gain any weight from it?

              • Hi Michelle, no apologies necessary! To tell you the truth, I don’t know when exactly I would’ve been able to start sleeping independent of the Paxil until I was completely off of it. I just know that I was able to stop Ambien (no weaning of that is necessary) 1 mo after taking the Paxil. I felt well enough at that point, as my panic attacks were gone by then, so I guess you can say my gut was telling me to give it a try (though as you can imagine I was very anxious, and it was due to my extremely high anxiety levels concerning my insomnia that started my panic attacks in the first place). The therapeutic dose of Paxil for me was 25 mg (but remember that this is diff from person to person and medication to medication) because it was at the dosage that I felt more myself again. It was in close consultation with my doctor that we decided that I would start weaning 6 mos in. It didn’t really make me gain any excess weight.

      • Hi ladies, I wanted to give you an update. I’m feeling a lot better after upping my Zoloft to 37.5mg… I am sleeping without the xanax now too but still have to take trazedone. @Lindsay, when did you wean off the trazedone and how did you taper? I would like to wean myself off and only take zoloft but maybe it”s too early? I do not want to experience rebound insomnia.

        • Michelle- That’s great news! I’m so glad you’re starting to feel better! I didn’t take trazedone for very long because I had such a hangover with it. I relied more on ativan for sleep. Can you talk to your doctor? If you do wean off of the trazedone and have rebound insomnia, you can always use the xanax for backup. That’s what I did. But I’d definitely talk to your doc about it 🙂

              • I’m feeling a lot better overall. Since upping Zoloft to 37.5mg, I was able to take only Trazodone without Xanax and at best was getting 5-7 hours of sleep a night and feeling a lot happier and more productive during the day. However, then I started waking up super early in the morning 4:00 am etc (baby sleeps until 7:30), so just upped my dose to 50mf which I’m taking at night. Hoping this dose will be the key. Ivy, did you have any rebound issues once you got off your meds after a year? I read this is the case with a lot of people. What do you do on nights you can’t sleep now (if you hAve those).

                • Michelle,
                  Glad to hear you are doing much better! Did the doc up your dose of Trazadone? Just curious. After I got completely off the Paxil, I had no rebound issues, nor have I had any sleep issues since (knock wood!).

              • Thanks ivy and Lindsay, just moved my Zoloft to morning and increased to 50mg, 8 days ago. Doing ok, still raje trazedone (50mg) to help me fall asleep but am still waking up 1-2 x per night and I have to take a very small dose of Xanax to help me fall back asleep. Did that ever happen to you? My son sleeps through the night but I still don’t. Hopefully the 50mg increase will work. I don’t feel depressed anymore throughout the day but on nights of really bad sleep I do. What made the Dr increase you to 100mg? Were you not feeling relief at 50 or 75? I’m going back to work in 3 weeks also do really hope it gets better soon.

                • The doctor increased my dosage around the time when I was going back to work. My anxiety increased quite a bit before I went back to work and I started having sleepless nights again. This sounds alot like what you’re going through. I think it’s natural to have extra anxiety when going back to work. Once I found the right dosage of Zoloft, things got easier. I went through a pretty rough patch though. Please feel free to e-mail me at if you have any personal questions!

  45. Go sweet Ivy,
    Insomnia is the pits. I think your pointers are spot on, and I wish I had access to this info seven years ago, I am so grateful mothers can get to read this post now.

    • Hi Yael,
      Thank you, my friend, my stopping by and leaving a comment. Wow, has it been 7 years for you too? It’s been 7 years since my own brush with PPD! Feels like yesterday! I so wish I had knowledge about all this BEFORE I had my daughter! My postpartum experience would’ve been so different! But as they say, things happen for a reason. If we hadn’t suffered the way we suffered, would we have made such a mission to help other moms?

  46. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s such a relief to know you are not alone. I’ve been suffering from PPA since about a week after my son was born (December 29th, 2011). Started with loss of appetite and then insomnia. The fear of bedtime was and still is terrible. I started taking 50 mg of Zoloft when he was 2 weeks old, with Ambien and Ativan as needed. I was basically alternating them each night. I was starting to feel in control again and almost ready to try to sleep without help when some minor health problems arose with my son and the return-to-work date started looming. The Ambien didn’t work one night and it sent me into a tailspin. I relapsed into panic attacks and severe insomnia and I couldn’t take the Ambien because of the fear it wouldn’t work. My doctor increased my dose of Zoloft to 100 mg and is discussing using trazadone, however I’m nervous to take it. The relapse is almost worse because you feel like the cycle will never stop.

    • Hi Lindsay,
      You are definitely not alone in your experience. You can see from all the comments to this post on insomnia that it is one of the first symptoms of PPD. It is indeed a scary experience. Please keeP me posted on your progress toward recovery. You WILL recover even though right now you may feel like the cycle will never end!

    • Hi Lindsay-

      I am just trying to reach out to others who have been through the insomnia panic ppa. I am currently in the midts of it and would love to hear if you recovered and your experience!

  47. This is such an encouraging post. After giving birth to my son (my first), I was up for days at a time. My ObGyn was not much help so my family doctor prescribed me lexapro, and within a few days I started sleeping. After a month I felt great and since I started sleeping so quickly on the lexapro, I thought that maybe I just needed the hormones to balance out the first week and the lexapro really didn’t do much, so I stopped taking it. Twenty days later, I stopped sleeping again.(about a week and a half ago) So, I started taking lexapro again. For about the past week it’s touch and go with me falling asleep, if I can’t than I take a xanax, but even when I do fall asleep I wake up around 2:30 or 3:00 every morning and can’t go back to sleep on my own. I have always been a heavy sleeper and someone who can fall asleep basically at anytime, plus I have had a serious lack in appetite. Therefore, I made an appointment with a post partum depression specialist, who I go to see on monday. I am hoping they can give me better insight on if I am on the right anti-depressant and how to help me cope with this. The worse part is feeling like I will never be normal again.

    Therefore, thank you for your post, it has given me hope that I will be “normal” again and that I’m not going “crazy”.


    • Hi Allison,
      Thanks for reading my post and leaving a comment! You can see from the number of comments left on this post (one of my most popular) that insomnia after childbirth is very commonly a first sign of PPD. It’s awesome that you will be seeing a PPD specialist on Monday! You will return to your old self again with the right treatment! If you could, please let me know how things go!

      • Hello, im also going through the same problem. And its been 2 months now. 2 weeks after the child birth, i had insomnia, i didnt know why, when !!! Im not consulting any doctor because my family isn’t ready to as they say it will go by the time..But i’m helpless and just tired beyond words now.!!! I want a peaceful sleep.

  48. HI Ivy-
    I’m going thru a similar experience right now and glad I found your post online. It’s nice to knw there is light on the dark end of the tunnel. How long did you have to stay on the med for? I want to get better before going back to work. I feel like this has been a burden for my family.

    • Hi Julie,
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Sorry to hear you are experiencing insomnia and PPD, but yes, as you say, there is most definitely a light at the end of the dark tunnel! This is one of the most frequently visited posts on my blog because there are many more moms suffering from PPD (with insomnia as a primary symptom) than we know. Just look at how many people have left comments on this one post!

      I stayed on Paxil for about a year because it took a while to wean off it. But I was only on it for 4 wks before it kicked in, in time to return to work. But everyone’s situation is different.

      What are you taking, and how long have you been on it, if you don’t mind my asking? Your family needs to realize that the health of the mom is essential to the health of the family unit. You may want to purchase a copy of my book and have your loved ones read it. My book goes into a lot more than my blog does.

      Take care, and please keep me posted on your progress! Hope you are feeling much better soon!

      • Hi Ivy- I am currently not taking any medication other than an occasional Ambien if I can’t sleep the night before. I’m currently getting acupuncture treatments. Since I’m currently breastfeeding, my doc is reluctant to prescribe medication.

        • Hi Julie,
          Hopefully, the acupuncture helps, and yes, of course we need to consider the approach when the mom is breastfeeding. My situation was very complicated and my PPD hit hard and fast and debiliated me to the point that with uncontrollable weight loss, lack of appetite, and an utter debilitation with panic attacks and all, I had no choice but to be medicated by both Paxil and Xanax. Unfortunately, I had to stop breastfeeding…but it never was successful for me anyway (due to my childbirth complications, extended hospital stay, blood loss, and partial hysterectomy).

          • Hi Ivy-
            The insomnia came back so I got an appt to see a therapist today . He prescribed Zoloft. I’m hesistant to take med fearing I might become dependent on it. Based on your experience, do you thk you could’ve overcame PPD just by therapy alone? Thanks so much for listening!

            • Hi Julie,
              I’m sorry to hear that your insomnia is persisting. How many days postpartum are you right now? You will not become dependent on Zoloft. It’s just that with any antidepressants, you’ll need to wean off of it gradually and at the advice of your therapist. Don’t just drop it whenever you feel like it. And not sure if you saw my note from last Thur, but I had no choice but to go on medication because I could NOT function, period. Therapy would’ve been nice to help me get through the dark patches of PPD, but I would NOT have recovered if it weren’t for the medication I took. But again, everyone’s situation is different. Follow the doctor’s instrux on taking the Zoloft. My PPD symptoms worsened tremendously before I went on my meds. I went from insomnia to panic attacks. It’s good that you are seeking treatment. Hopefully, the worst of your symptoms is the insomnia!

  49. Ivy,
    I know this is a really old post, but I just read it. I am going through the same thing with the insomnia, which didn’t really start until 5 months postpartum. Since then, I have had horrible anxiety and insomnia, which has turned into depression. This has been going on for almost 5 months now. My son is 9 months old and this all began shortly after he began sleeping through the night and I had been getting up to pump and my husband started getting up at odd hours to go to work. Prior to this, my son had colic for the first 4 months, so sleep was limited anyway. I went to my OB/GYN when this began and he handed me some Ambien and Zoloft to take. He didn’t give me any instructions or warn me that it took the meds a while to kick in and they might increase my anxiety at first. So, I didn’t take them as prescribed and the Ambien didn’t work that well either. I went back to the doc and saw someone else within that practice (my doc was on vacation). He told me to stop the Zoloft and started me on Lexapro. I should also mention that neither doc set-up a follow-up appointment with me or suggested any counseling. I did take Lexapro for 6 weeks and was so wired, I couldn’t sleep at all even with the Ambien. So, I have been taking Ambien on and off (mostly on) for the last 5 months. I went to my GP, desperate for help, and asked her about Buspar. She gave me some, and it has helped some with the anxiety, but I am terrified to even try to sleep without Ambien. When I do, I just lie there and toss and turn forever!!! When my son takes naps and I try to nap, I just lie there with a racing heart. It is maddening, and I fear that I will never be the same. I am afraid I have conditioned myself not to sleep at this point. I set up an appointment with a specialist in Atlanta for next week. I am desperate for help. Please tell me this will end. I have never had insomnia or depression before this…….

    • Hi Mel,
      This is indeed an older post, but people still like to post comments. Comments are most welcome anytime for any post. I love to hear from my readers, and if anyone is in need of any support, I would like very much to help in any way I can–whether to help you feel less alone in your experience or provide encouragement that things will indeed get better…you just need to get the right help. It’s upsetting when I hear about doctors randomly prescribing meds, not sitting down with the patient to discuss the treatment protocol (inc. a warning that SSRIs take several wks to kick in, and patients with anxiety on top of PPD should probably also have a benzo until the SSRI kicks in), docs in the same practice not following the same protocol or even communicating with each other, and taking you off antidepressants abruptly (that’s a no no). There should be consistency across practices. There should be a requirement that docs who prescribe meds not be able to prescribe meds unless they also sit down and address the patient’s questions and go over the treatment protocol. Are you still on the Lexapro and Buspar? You should only be on Buspar for a short time until the Lexapro kicks in.

      My experience sounds similar to yours. I also never had insomnia or depression before my PPD experience. I also wasn’t sure if I would make it through. I didn’t know what what was going on. I was terrified. My doc lacked bedside manner.

      Your docs should’ve spent time with you going through what PPD is, why they’re prescribing the meds they’re presribing, and emphasizing that you need to follow the prescription and not skipping or changing doses (that applies to the Ambien as well). I am really glad you’ve set up an appointment with a specialist. Is this a psychologist/psychiatrist who specializes in PPD? You know you can always look up local resources on and even talk to someone from PSI in your area. You can also call the PSI warmline if you ever need someone to talk to.

      I’m sorry you are going through what you’re going through, but you WILL be well again. Please keep me posted if you can. I would like to know how your recovery goes!
      Take care,

  50. Hi Ivy,

    Yes, i am still taking the Celexa and the Clonazepam, and am still worried about the addiction part of it although as i mentioned my doctor said that she has had experience treating women with postpartum depression and that she knows people who have been on clonazepam for months and even years. Still, i worry and want this to end.
    thanks for listening Ivy,

    • Hi Lina,
      You can always speak with your pharmacist (and later when you see the psychiatrist) about your concerns of becoming addicted to the Clonazepam. Keep in mind that medication can take several weeks to reach a therapeutic level (or kick in). In some cases, medication may need to be switched and/or therapy may be required. When you see the psychiatrist, you will go over various things and if by then you still have insomnia, you can ask them about their thoughts on whether to stay on Celexa or switch to another SSRI or SNRI.

      Each person’s physiology is unique, which means different medications have different effects on different people, especially with respect to medications that affect a woman’s neurotransmitter levels. The physical (chemical/hormonal) makeup of a woman will determine what will work for her. Hence, what works for one woman may not work for another. With certain medications working better than others because everyone reacts to medications differently, it can be difficult to determine the right medicine and dosage for each individual right from the start. Sometimes it’s a matter of trial and error for the right medication or combination of medicines, as well as dosages, is identified by your doctor. There are so many psychiatric medications, you may wonder how doctors decide which one to prescribe for their patients. The best thing the doctor can do is prescribe the medication he/she thinks will work best for you, based on your circumstances (i.e., your symptoms and their severity), documented effectiveness and their own medical opinion.

      Recovery from PPD takes time….you said the other day you are feeling better, which is wonderful. Keep the faith!
      Take care,

      • hello ivy,
        i just wanted to let you know that i was able to get an appt with a psychiatrist last monday. she increased the dosage of the celexa and put me on quetipine. i am adjusting to this medication and am still not sure if it is working properly for me since i don’t get insomnia every night. however i have been calling her about my concerns and she is very helpful. thank you for your support and wish me luck!
        take care,

        • Hi Lina,
          Wow, that’s great that you were able to see a psychiatrist so quickly, rather than having to wait another month! Having this additional support with your concerns, as they come up, is beneficial indeed. Give the increased dosage of Celexa some time to have a noticeable impact. Did you used to have insomnia every night? If so, you’re already improving! Best of luck, and continue to keep me posted!
          Take care,

          • Hi Ivy,

            I did not have insomnia every night. And I’ve been on first Ativan and then Clonazepam for more than two months now. I used these on an as needed basis. (That is every two or three nights). I am having difficulty adjusting to the Qutiepien (sorry for the spelling mistakes if any). I was fine with 50mg for a couple of nights however last night I was having difficulty and had to take the Clonazepam in addition to it. This has gotten me worried. I will speak to my doctor on Monday about it. Thank you for your support. It has helped me greatly and I do appreciate it. Take care. Lina

            • Hi Lina,
              Just keep on taking the medication as prescribed by your doctor. Be sure to stay on the Celexa EVERY day until told otherwise by your doctor/psychiatrist. Do not skip or decrease your dosage yourself. Yes, please do talk to your doctor on Monday. You will get through this!
              Take care,

            • Hi Lina,
              It’s been 3 weeks since we last corresponded (before the holidays)…really hope you are doing much better by now!
              Happy New Year!

              • Hi Ivy,
                Happy New Year. I hope you had a great holiday season. I am doing better, thankfully. I am continuing to take the Celexa and the Quetiapine (for sleep) and family has been helping me take care of the baby at night. He’s four months now and wakes up a few times at night still. The doctor says i should continue taking the Quetiapine for sleep for the next couple of months. Hopefully by then i will be able to come off of it ( i am worried still that i might have sleeping problems for the rest of my life!) However, my mood has dramatically improved since i am getting enough sleep.
                Thanks so much for listening and take care,

                • Hi Lina,
                  So glad to hear you are doing better! I’m glad to hear you have help with the baby at night. I know what it’s like to be afraid of having sleeping problems for the rest of your life. I feared that too. But I recovered and went off the meds and have been sleeping fine! Please keep me posted.
                  All the best,

                  • Hello Ivy,

                    Thank you so much for listening when I needed someone to listen most. It has been over one and half years since I had my sleeping problems and depression. I am got off the Quetiapine after a couple of months of being on it and I am now completely weaned off the Celexa as well and sleeping very well! Your post helped me a great deal and please keep up the great work! Just a note to all the moms going through this, you are not alone and you will get better, but please get professional help.


                    • Hi Lina,
                      Oh, I am so glad to hear from you!!! I am so glad to hear that you are completely off the meds and sleeping well on your own! It gives me great pleasure to know that I was able to be of some help to you!
                      All the best,

      • Hi Ivy, first off I love your blog. I too had PPD with similar symptoms. I’m now over a year into recovery and feel great so I weaned off my AD (which I think cause me to gain 20 pounds). The other night I experienced insomnia and eventually fell asleep but I was so frightened that PPD was coming back. Turns out it was just some PMS insomnia (what a relief!). Do you ever have irrational fears that PPD is coming back if u have a bad day, or have trouble falling asleep? Is this normal or am I losing it?

        • Hi Ann,
          Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I am happy to hear you like my blog so much! 🙂 I’m glad to hear you’ve recovered from PPD and have weaned off your antidepressant. Just curious, do you have (and have you previously had) sleep difficulties or other depression-like symptoms before each period? It is totally understandable for you to fear that PPD is returning because you are once again having difficulty falling asleep. You are NOT losing it! I would fear the exact same thing if I were once again experiencing the symptoms I had during my bout with PPD! Are there any other stressors in your life right now? Sometimes, if I get particularly stressed out about something, I would have some trouble falling asleep, but it wouldn’t be nearly as difficult as when I had my insomnia. I would recommend you to see your doctor if you continue to experience insomnia before your period or at other times. It would help some if you did some yoga and exercised regularly (I know it’s easier said than done…I’m too lazy for all that myself).
          Please keep me posted!
          – Ivy

          • Hi Ivy, I’m unhappy to report that I recently had a bit of a relapse about three months after fully weaning off AD. I was on AD for a year after second bout of PPD. I discussed weaning with my psychiatrist who agreed it would be ok to wean since I was fully recovered and had been on AD for over a year. Also, I had successfully weaned off the same AD in the past, after my first bout of PPD. A couple of weeks ago I began having trouble falling asleep. My mood had not changed. I still felt fine. One day I was sleeping fine, then the next I wasn’t. Also, I began to lose my appetite. I immediately went to see my psychiatrist who advised me to go back on AD which I did immediately. I am also taking a sleep tablet. I’m starting to feel better and I’m going to try to wean off sleep tablet which I’ve been on for a week. I know it will take two to three weeks for AD to take effect again. I restarted AD a week ago. Anyway, I was wondering if any of your readers experienced a relapse after weaning from AD. Thanks.

            • Hi Ann,
              So sorry to hear about your relapse! None of my other readers have shared any relapse experiences with me, but I’m sure you are not the only one. I’ve heard of this happening due to hormonal-related events such as menstrual periods and menopause. Some women, like Marg Stark, author of “What No One Tells the Mom,” are unable to return to their pre-baby emotional selves. For these women, it seems that the biology behind their moods changes during the childbirth process. It took her many years after the birth of her 2nd child–not to mention a combination of Omega 3’s, exercise and supplements–to wean off her ADs.

              Just curious, how long did it take you to wean off the AD? Was it a very gradual process? Are you menstruating now? After your ADs kick back in, I really hope you will wean completely off and be able to stay off your ADs. You are doing the right thing by immediately consulting with your psychiatrist with your concerns.
              Keep me posted –

              • Hi Ivy, thanks for your reply. The relapse did occur just before my period so I think there is a hormonal connection. In fact, the day my period arrived I was really down and crying, not to mention scared of relapse. My psychiatrist thinks I may need to be on AD longer or for the rest of my life. I don’t mind taking the AD for the rest of my life. I just have to look at it like a vitamin. I did wean very gradually, it took about 5 months to wean off completely and I was also taking (and I’m still taking) Omega 3 and B complex. I also exercise at least 3 times per week but still relapsed. Oh well, that’s life I supposed. I’ve been back on the AD for a week now and I feel better, my appetite is better too. I have gotten much needed sleep thanks to the Temazepam I’ve been taking for the past week. I will try to taper that soon.

                • Hi Ann,
                  I wouldn’t know about your needing to stay on ADs for the rest of your life. Just take one day at a time. I’m glad you are feeling better! Keep up your Omega 3, vitamins and exercise. Listen to your psychiatrist’s advice on when you should try to wean again. Please keep me posted and hope all goes well!

  51. Hi Ivy,
    I live in mississauga Ontario Canada near a hospital called Credit Valley Hospital where the Pyschiatrist appointment is. Thanks for your help.

  52. Hi Ivy,
    What a nightmare it is to find help in my area! The nurse pract I was supposed to see cancelled my appt twice, so I said forget I’ll get help somewhere else. Very unproffessional in my opinion. I made an appt with another GP for tomorrow morning in my area. I hope they can help me. I am at my wits end! I’m not sure where to go from there if they can’t help me. Wish me luck! Hope you are doing great!


    • Hi Sarah,
      Yikes, sorry…wish I would’ve known earlier….I would’ve tried to reach out on your behalf sooner! I suggest you contact Karen Kleiman from the Postpartum Stress Center. Her practice is in Rosemont, PA. Here’s her contact info: I can talk to her on your behalf, if you’d like. Hang in there! PLEASE keep me posted!
      Take care,

    • Hi Sarah,
      It’s been over a month since we last corresponded (before Thanksgiving)…really hope you are doing much better by now!
      Happy New Year!

  53. Hi Ivy,
    Yes I was shocked at how backed up psychiatrists are! I finally feel there might be help for me out there now with this nurse practitioner. Yes a PSI coordinator did contact me and is going to email me references. It was so nice talking to her on the phone. It felt like someone finally gets it (besides you of course). She really understood what I was saying and what I’m going thru and told me she had a similar experience. It’s been a rough couple of months and I’m ready for it to be over. Thanks for all your support!

    • Hi Sarah,
      Just wanted to see how you’re doing….did you receive references from the PSI coordinator last week? Have you gone to see the nurse practitioner? Hope you are doing much better now!
      All the best,

  54. Hi Ivy,
    I called sooo many places in and around my area to see a psychiatrist. Everyone who has called me back can’t see me till Dec or Jan! Some haven’t even bothered to call me back. How nice of them. I did make an appt with a nurse practitioner who works for 2 psychiatrists. She cousels and prescribes meds. She is seeing me on the 19th of this month. I took the appt because I really need help and can’t wait till Dec or Jan. I hope she is going to be able to help me and that it won’t be a waist of my time. In your opinion would that be a good route to take considering everyone else can’t see me till later? Any advice on this would be great! Thanks!


    • Hi Sarah,
      Wow, I am surprised. I am so sorry to hear of your difficulty in getting an appt! I’m so glad you’ve made an appt with a nurse practitioner that works for 2 psychiatrists. I’d forgotten to mention that option to you before. By the way, did you ever hear back from the PSI coordinator?

  55. Hi Ivy, referred me to a psychiatrist and said that I wouldn’t want to see a GP about this, I should see a psychiatrist. I confused on what is best to do in this situation. One of her interests is PPD, so I called, but since it’s Saturday no one’s there, so I left a message. GP or psychiatrist?


    • Hi Sarah,
      Psychiatrists can speak/listen to you & help address concerns, an additional benefit to what a GP would normally be able to provide. Psychiatrists can also prescribe medication. So, I would give this psychiatrist a try. It’s more about finding someone who specializes and is understanding/caring than finding any doctor who can prescribe meds at this point (which you’ve already tried and didn’t work). Please keep me posted!

    • Hi Sarah,
      Just following up to see if you’ve made any appts/seen any new docs/therapists since we last exchanged notes on Sat, hopefully?
      Hope you are doing okay.
      – Ivy

  56. Thanks Ivy! I did find my and left them a message. I didn’t find, so I will call them and also leave them a message! Thanks for your help! It’s much appreciated!


  57. Hi Ivy,
    Thanks for responding so quickly! Thanks for the link to I went on their website and left a message with a local coordinator. I live in Quakertown, PA and any help that you could also provide me would be much appreciated! I’m gonna do a search now for docs in my area using those key words and see what I come up with! The anxiety, insomnia, and occassional panic attacks are really taking it out of me. Thanks so much for all your help Ivy! I really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart!

    • Hi Sarah,
      So glad to hear you’ve already tried to contact a local coordinator! They should return your call soon. She should be able to provide you with a few references. If I can think of anything else, I will be sure to let you know! And please keep me posted!!!
      Take care,

  58. Hi Ivy,
    My doctor gave me Temazapam 15mg to take at night before bed when I need it. It’s another benzo and it didn’t do a thing. I have decided that I’m going to switch doctors. I really like him, but I feel he’s not listening. I told him what was going on with me still waking in the night and not being able to get back to sleep and he said “drink a glass of milk”. If it was that easy, wouldn’t I be doing that? From the beginning of this whole mess he stated in his opinion that I don’t have PPD, just anxiety and insomnia, but those are part of PPD, right? Lack of sleep and this whole situation is making me depressed. All I have to do is think about it and I start crying. Someone suggested Zoloft to me, but I have read reviews and alot of people have experienced more insomnia with that. Did you hear that also? Ivy, I am sooo frustrated! You are right that at least mt daughter is sleeping thru the night now and that’s a good thing! Thanks for listening Ivy!

    • Hi Sarah,
      Yes, move onto another doctor right away! You have a postpartum mood disorder and need someone w/experience treating them. For many moms (me included), insomnia and anxiety (and even panic attacks) are their main symptoms. Can a friend/relative recommend a doctor to you? Can you go to the PSI website ( and look up your local PSI coordinator to get some ideas? Get help very soon! I wouldn’t want to see the vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and anxiety bring you down that road of panic attacks! Zoloft is an SSRI. As I’m not a doctor, psychiatrist or pharmacist, I cannot tell you which SSRI (or SNRI) would work best. These meds are usu. prescribed by doctors based on the history/success of treatment. That’s probably why I was prescribed Paxil. So, I suggest you try to make an appt. on Monday with another doctor. If no luck with the PSI website, see if you can see a doctor directly affiliated with your local hospital. Or do a search of docs in your area using the key words “postpartum depression.” I can totally understand your frustration/anxiety that you will never get better. But YOU WILL! Just have to find the right help. Let me know if I can be of any further help in that regard. I can try to reach out to your local PSI coordinator. You’ll just have to tell me what area you live in.
      All the best,

  59. Hi again Ivy,
    Just needed someone to talk to. The Ativan is no longer working for my sleep issues, although my daughter has finally started sleeping thru the night. The last 2 nights I had trouble falling asleep and when I wake up to use the bathrm, I can’t get back to sleep. The 1mg Ativan I used to get back to sleep has stopped working. I thought my issues would resolve once she started sleeping thru the night and I’m now discouraged to find that they have not. I have an appt with my GP today again to discuss another treatment route. Lack of sleep is taking it’s toll on me and I’m frustrated. Thanks for listening.

    • Hi Sarah,
      Sorry to hear the Ativan is no longer working (I had a feeling that would be the case). Hey, at least your daughter is sleeping through the night…that’s always a GOOD thing! I’m glad you will be seeing your GP today. I am wondering if he/she is going to recommend you start an SSRI or SNRI to get at what is usually the core of sleeping issues (i.e., inadequate serotonin levels). I really wish I could help you more. I just know that what I went through sounds like what you’re going through. An SSRI worked for me, but it takes time. Also, different treatments work for different people. Bottom line is, you WILL recover and you WILL sleep again….it will just take time. I know when you’re suffering, time seems to crawl soooooo slowly you just want to scream. I hope you are getting the emotional & practical support you need to get through each day. Please keep me posted, and reach out whenever you need to.
      Take care,

    • Lina,
      I looked at my previous comment about insomnia going away in 4 weeks. What I meant to say was “You should find, as I did, that taking an SSRI should help you say goodbye to insomnia. I was off my Ambien as soon as the Paxil took effect (which was 4 weeks after I started to take it). I was on Paxil for a little over a year until I was weaned completely off it.” Sorry for any confusion I may have caused!
      All the best,

      • Hi Ivy,

        It is Lina again. The Celexa is not working for me and my son who just turned 3 months and was sleeping pretty good for a while is starting to wake up a lot during the night again. I used to take Clonazepam for sleep every other night this past month and wake up at night to bottle feed him. However, now I am not sure how much help the Clonazepam will be if he keeps bothering me at night while i take it. Also, the sleeping problem is not going away. I did book an appointment with a psychiatrist and it is for Jan 11. In the meantime i will be going back to my family doctor to see what she recommends. I was wondering if you have any words of advice? I appreciate all your help and support.

        • Hi Lina,
          So sorry to hear you are still suffering from insomnia. You’ve been on Celexa for about 4 weeks now, right? If you have passed your 6th week on Celexa, I’d definitely go back to the doctor to discuss another SSRI or SNRI option. It usually takes over a month for an SSRI to take effect. I’m glad to hear you are taking the additional precaution to see a psychiatrist. Does the psychiatrist you’ll be seeing have experience treating patients with PPD? Have you ever spoken to your local Postpartum Support Int’l coordinator, which you can locate via their website Do you have any help with night feedings? I know that the hours/days seem to crawl while you’re not well, but rest assured, as long as you keep on seeking support, you will recover!
          Please continue to reach out to me as much as you need to.
          Take care,

          • Hi Ivy,
            I’ve been on Celexa for about 5 weeks now. I did contact my local PostPartum support coordinator and she said that my doctor could refer me to the local “Women’s reproductive and mental health center” which my doctor did but the appt is for january. the coordinator was very helpful. Currently i don’t have any help with night feedings that’s why when the baby wakes up and i have taken my clonazepam i still may not get enough sleep. also, i am afraid that i will become immune to the effects of the clonazepam or become addicted or it might make my sypmtoms worse. They say that SSRI’s and SNRI’s usually give people trouble with sleeping but hearing your story it’s good to see that it worked for you. Thanks for your quick response.

            • Hi Lina,
              From everything I’ve heard and read, it’s the SSRIs and SNRIs that are key to returning the serotonin levels back to normal states. Serotonin is key to sleep regulation. I just can’t believe there is such a long lead time to see the psychiatrist! I’m surprised the PSI coordinator did not provide you with referrals herself but told you to get them from your doctor. If you wish, I could look into some facilities near you so you don’t have to wait another 1-1/2 mos. You’d just need to tell me the area you live in, and I can do some research for you.
              All the best,

              • Hello Ivy,

                I live in the greater toronto area. thanks for your help. I went to see my family doctor again and told her about my progress. she says that since my mood has improved and i am able to get some sleep i should wait until January to see the psychiatrist and that i will be OK. That most PPD disappear by the 6th month and i am already 3 months into it. She says the clonazepam will not become addictive and that i should continue taking it. I also contacted my area coordinator again and she gave me a number for another facility in toronto – Women’s College – but they aren’t booking until january either.
                Thanks for listening,

                • Hi Lina,
                  I had tried to find another facility in your area, but wasn’t really successful. I’m glad you went to see your doctor again and she was able to provide some reassurance. I’m also glad you contacted your PSI coordinator and got the name of another facility, though surprised yet again that the wait time is so long! Are you still taking the Celexa?
                  Take care,

  60. Hi Ivy,
    I take the Ativan as a sleeping aid after every two or three days just before going to bed when my husband bottle feeds the baby. The doc said not to breastfeed the baby for five hours after taking the Ativan. I recently went back to see my doc as the effect of the Ativan is waring off and my insomnia is returning and she prescribed Celexa for me. I am taking that everyday now (10mg for the first week and 20mg after that). Today is my second day on it and i have had my insomnia worsening. Did you experience that as well? Also, she prescribed Clonazepam for me to take instead of the ativan every few nights to catch up on my sleep when my husband helps out. I took it last night and it did not help! i had two hours of sleep and i woke up! Did you also experience these problems at the beginning?

    • Hi Lina,
      My insomnia stopped 4 wks after taking Paxil, an SSRI. At that point, I stopped taking the Ambien (sleep aid) and Xanax (a benzo/antianxiety med). My insomnia never came back. I’m not a doctor, and certainly not giving you any medical advice. But from what I read (and I read a lot…which is what all doctors should do too), an antianxiety med (like Ativan and Clonazepam) by itself is not going to get rid of insomnia that persists due to inadequate levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Antianxiety meds do what their name implies, but won’t do anything for serotonin levels. Celexa is an SSRI. SSRIs (and SNRIs) do not take effect immediately….it takes a few weeks for the therapeutic level/serotonin level to reach a point where sleep will no longer be an issue. You WILL get better. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me anytime you need to.
      Take care,

  61. Hello Ivy,

    I am the mother of an eight week old little boy and my problems with insomnia started when he was 2-3 weeks old. I started having trouble sleeping when he wasn’t with me and it just got worse. About 4 weeks ago i went to my family doctor and she prescribed Ativan (Lorazepam) for my insomina. Currently i take about 3mg of it every two/3 nights to help me sleep while my husband takes care of the little one. I do have anxiety about the fact that it is very addictive. Also, I am a breastfeeding mom and am very worried that any meds I go on will affect his health. Were you breastfeeding while you were on the medication for your PPD?

    • Hi Lina,
      I stopped pumping as soon as I went on any of my meds. I found that formula worked just fine. Though I would’ve preferred to continue feeding my daughter breastmilk at least through the 3rd month as I’d originally planned, I didn’t want to take any chances. So, are you finding the Ativan (a benzodiazapene or antianxiety med) helping you? At this point, your doctor should be closely monitoring you. When did she say you can stop taking it?
      All the best,

  62. Hi Ivy,
    Thanks so much! I’m hoping to be off the meds soon too! You have given me hope that things will get better with time and I thank you for that! I’m gonna be patient and hope for the best. Good health and happiness.


  63. Hi again Ivy,
    I saw my GP today to talk about the Lorazpam and my fears of becoming addicted to the medication. I am only taking 3 pills a day of 0.5 milligram and it has been working great! He has decided that if that’s working for now I will stay on it for a while longer. I have a follow up visit in 2 months to check my progress with the anxiety/insomnia. If things haven’t improved then we are going to talk about other treatment options. Thanks again so much for posting this blog and telling your story.

    • Hi Sarah,
      Glad you had a discussion with your doctor. Hope things continue to improve and you will be off all meds soon! Feel free to reach out to me whenever you need to during your recovery.

  64. Ivy,
    Thanks so much for posting this blog! I don’t feel so alone! I am currently dealing with PPD anxiety and insomnia. It started 3 weeks after my daugher was born who is now 10 weeks old. I was on Prozac before, but that didn’t help with anything. My GP has prescribed Lorazapam for my sleep/anxiety which works but could become addictive if taken for too long. I’m not sure what to do when that runs out. I’m nervous that the insomnia/anxiety will return. If you have any more advice I would love to hear it. Thanks.

    • Sarah,
      Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Are you getting the emotional/practical support you need? You sound like you’re going through what I went through. I was prescribed an SSRI (Paxil) with a benzo (Xanax), and was off the Xanax within a month when the Paxil kicked in at 4 weeks. Benzos are anti-anxiety meds. Talk to your GP about your concerns when the meds run out/if the insomnia/anxiety will return, and coming up with an appropriate plan if they do, like other medical (or even therapy) options. For example, SNRIs work on the levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine and SSRIs work on the levels of serotonin. Both neurotransmitters are linked with regulation of sleep and mood/anxiety, among other things. I know you said you were on Prozac before, but I’ve heard that that is not as widely used or successful as Paxil, Lexapro & Zoloft (all newer SSRIs than Prozac), and currently it’s the SNRIs that are more frequently used for PPD than SSRIs. Different treatments work for different people. Sometimes it takes a medication or two before finding the one that will work. I hope you are well on your road to recovery! Keep me posted!

  65. I just want to tell you I went through the exact same thing with both my daughters now 4 and 18 months. The insomnia was the first clue that..oh no here it comes! I am 38 weeks pregnant with my 3rd girl now and I am starting to get a bit nervous about the ppd. I am just praying that it doesn’t come this time. Thanks for your words it helps to know that you aren’t the only one going through this.

    • Allison,
      I hope you don’t get PPD again this time. It’s not 100% that you will get it a 3rd time. Now that you’ve been through it twice, you will hopefully be more prepared to try to reduce your risk of getting it. Have you talked to your doctor/therapist about having a postpartum plan? Have you set up an emotional/practical support network?

      • Ivy,

        Thanks for the response. Yes I have talked to my doctor and we do have a plan in place as far as if I do get PPD again. As far as the support network I do have quite a few friends to help if I need it. I am worried though that with taking care of the other kids it is going to be very tough at first. My PPD lasted a lot longer with my first than with my second though so there is hope. If you have time could you email me, I have a few question I would like to ask you. Thanks.

  66. Your story is helpful and inspiring! It is important that women who suffer from PPD know that they are not alone. It is important to have a practitioner who will inform, test and support with help that will make this better. I found that sleeping when my baby slept helped a ton and I also did use a progesterone spray that help to balance and normalize my hormones thus making my PPD diminish!
    I am currently charting my fertility with the “FertileView” software program which can help give clues as to other health issues that are going on such as thyroid and short luteal phases. Knowledge is power!

    • Hi Teresa,
      Thank you for speaking up about your own experience. I am so glad that my blog has been helpful/inspirational. I hope you are all recovered from PPD now. Knowledge is indeed power!
      All the best to you!

  67. Thank you so much for posting your experience. As I am reading this, every symptom you describe I can identify with – the horrible insomnia, anxiety, heart palpitations, and the inability to relax. I can completely understand the feeling of utter loneliness wandering the house at night while baby and husband sleep. I am currently 9 weeks postpartum and have been suffering with these symptoms since the birth of my daughter. I too am frustrated with the way my OB/GYN treated me, acting like my insomnia and anxiety was this weird thing she’d never heard of. I finally broke down and made an appointment with a psychiatrist and hope that will finally help. By reading your experience, at least I can feel like I’m not alone and that there is some hope for recovery.

  68. What an excellent article. I could relate to absolutely everything that you said. My PPD also started after suddenly being unable to sleep about 12 weeks after giving birth. When I called my doctor who had seemed so interested in screening for depression during my pregnancy, she dismissed my concern. I felt so abandonned. My inability to sleep was making me so anxious, and perpetuating the non sleep cycle. I was so afraid that i would never sleep and not be able to take care of my baby. I eventually found a wonderful psychiatrist who actually listened to me. I feel that doctors today need to keep abreast on the latest PPD information. Woman should not have to suffer through this without help and support of their doctor.

  69. Thank you for sharing your ppd experience. It was so hard for me to go thru it totally alone and not have people understand, especially doctors!! After 3 months of unbearable suffering it was my GP who finally helped me.

  70. I just found your blog and am ecstatic. I am a PPD survivor, and I hope you continue to write about your journey, as I’m already hooked! 🙂

    I think that the more we talk about what we went through (or are going through), the better life can be for moms in the future.


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