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.

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217 thoughts on “Insomnia – My Very First PPD Symptom

  1. 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.

    Winnie Lau
    San Francisco

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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,

  10. 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

  11. 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!

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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?

  20. 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!

  21. 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!

  22. 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?

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

  26. 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,

  27. 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!

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

  29. 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!

  30. 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,

  31. 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?

  32. 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

  33. 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!


  34. 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,

  35. 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,

  36. 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,

  37. 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,

  38. 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,

  39. 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.


  40. 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.

  41. 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!

  42. 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.

  43. 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!

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.


  48. Thanks so much for the encouraging feedback! I’m glad you were able to find my blog…please refer to others! Let’s all do what we can to share our experiences and educate others around us on PPD.


  49. Hi Natalie,

    I am so glad you got the help you needed from your GP. Some can’t even get the help they need from their GPs (or OB/GYNs). You would think that the care of new mothers by OB/GYNs would cover screening and postpartum care up through 3 months. I hope someday it will become mandatory in the U.S. for the first screening to occur at 4 weeks postpartum. If all PPD survivors were to speak up about their experiences, and with the help of legislation, there will be less suffering on the part of new mothers!


  50. Hi Kathleen,
    I am glad to hear that my posts have helped you feel less alone and you have made an appointment with a psychiatrist (hope he/she has experience treating patients with PPD). If you can, please keep me posted on your progress. I hope you will be well and enjoying your motherhood experience really soon!
    All the best,

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