getting real

'DWTS' Dancer Sharna Burgess Started Having Panic Attacks After Becoming A Mom

The anxiety was caused by involuntary, intrusive thoughts about harm coming to her baby.

Sharna Burgess attends the Jockey x Victoria Arlen Collection Launch Party at SIXTY Beverly Hills on...
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Every mom can relate to the drastic changes that come when you have your first child. From body changes to lifestyle changes, there is just so much that does a total 180 in a parent’s life. This is part of the reason why postpartum life can feel so isolating and overwhelming.

One of the biggest changes that happens when a new baby comes into the picture is the mental loads that moms take on, not only is there a lot more to manage and take care of (like a whole human!), but there can be some really intense thoughts and feelings that moms don’t know what to do with — caused by a combination of hormone shifts, sleep deprivation, and, you know, caring for a brand new human.

Dancing With The Stars pro dancer Sharna Burgess recently opened up about those kinds of mental struggles that come in early stages of motherhood. Nearly five months after welcoming her first child —Zane — with actor Brian Austin Green, Burgess talked to Good Morning America about the rollercoaster of emotions she went through with her first born including some feelings she didn’t expect.

“I was doing great with postpartum and I definitely couldn't say that I was struggling with postpartum depression,” she told Good Morning America, “but I certainly struggled with those intrusive mom thoughts.”

Burgess went into detail about the kinds of thoughts she was having about her child during those beginning months, including worst case, disastrous types of situations like falling down the stairs while holding Zane.

“Walking downstairs—and not just a fall on your back, slide down the stairs, but a full on tumble—and me ending up on top of him,” she explained, adding that she'd also have “very real vision of a car slamming into me and the car rolling, and the Jaws of Life coming to get him out of the car.”

The intrusive thoughts became so overwhelming that Burgess confessed she would have panic attacks because the felt “so real” that it paralyzed her, bringing on full panic that she had never experienced before becoming a mom.

“I felt myself having this panic attack, which I've never had a panic attack before," she recalled. "I'm a new mom and, all of a sudden, I was in this full-blown panic attack.”

The new mom made sure to get the help she needed when she saw signs that things were not right. She now practices mental exercises, breathing techniques, and attends therapy to help with the panic-inducing thoughts. She also shared her experience with a candid message about her struggles on Instagram to help other moms feel less alone in their mental struggles.

“Intrusive mom thoughts…This is a real thing,” Sharna wrote alongside a video, which showed her stopping to think for a bit during a walk with her son. “This is a real thing. Honestly I thought it was something wrong with my brain at first. These super dark thoughts of all the things that could go wrong.”

Sharna added she has since “learned to tame them and understand them.”

She shared how thankful she was to be able to share her feelings and experiences on social media because not only did she help others feel less alone, but she, too, felt a sense of community.

“When you think your issues, your problems, or your thoughts are singular, you feel very isolated,” she said. “And to know that there is a community of people that are like, ‘I feel you, I've been there.’”