Prenatal and Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders
Most people have heard of postpartum depression. It’s an all-too-common condition that new mothers experience. However, it’s not the only challenge facing women around the time of childbirth. Many women experience mood disorders during pregnancy as well as after the child’s birth. Our culture doesn’t always talk about how hard this can be. Therapy is there to support you during this time.
Therapy for New & Expecting Mothers
Many expectant mothers don’t even think about getting therapy during pregnancy. It’s supposed to be a joyous time. Why would you need help for it? The truth is, even if you mostly feel joyous, there are also a lot of other emotions that naturally emerge during pregnancy. You may have many different thoughts, feelings, concerns, and fears. Therapy can provide you with a safe space to discuss all of those things so that you feel more grounded in your pregnancy experience.
Anxiety is one of the most common issues that expectant mothers face.
First-time mothers in particular may have a lot of fears and doubts. You’re bringing a new life into the world. It’s your responsibility to raise that baby for the next eighteen or more years. No matter how excited you are to have this child, that’s a scary prospect. It’s okay to be scared. Therapy can be a place where you can be honest about that fear and figure out how to navigate it effectively so that you can be the kind of parent you dream of being.
It’s also okay if you don’t feel excited about this pregnancy. Women are often shamed in our society if they admit that. As therapists, we understand. Pregnancy can cause many complicated feelings. You may feel like you’re losing your identity as an individual and just going to be stuck being a “mom,” and that can bring up all sorts of mental challenges. It’s okay to have doubts. It’s okay to not know if this is what you really want. We will never judge you as you bring forth these feelings to work through in therapy.
What is Postpartum Depression
Although you might have heard the term, you may not know exactly what postpartum depression is. It is a specific type of depression that can happen to women after childbirth.
It’s important to understand that many women experience “baby blues”. Your body and hormones are changing a lot after the birth of your child. Add to that all of the natural anxiety that arises in parenthood, plus the fact that you’re not sleeping normally, and of course you’re going to have moments of low mood.
However, the so-called “baby blues” are temporary. They are interspersed with positive feelings. In contrast, postpartum depression is depression. It is thick, heavy, and doesn’t go away. It starts sometime within the first year after the baby’s birth. Postpartum depression is characterized by:
- Sadness, hopelessness, feelings of despair, and/or crying a lot
- Lack of interest in activities and people including no interest in sex or food
- Feeling like you can’t bond with your baby
- Low self-esteem particularly as it relates to being a mother
- Inability to concentrate, focus, or remember things
- Feeling like you can’t get out of bed, take care of yourself, or meet your baby’s needs
Postpartum depression affects many women. It’s not because of anything that you did wrong. While it’s more likely among people with a history of depression, it can happen to any woman. Getting therapy after pregnancy can help.
In fact, we’re increasingly becoming aware that men can also experience a form of postpartum depression. It typically happens later after the child’s birth than a mother’s form does. Either way, it is a type of depression directly related to the stressors of having a new child.
Pregnancy & Mood Disorders
Postpartum depression is just one type of mood disorder that can impact families after pregnancy. Anxiety is also frequently experienced by expectant and new parents. If you have a history of mood disorders, they may get worse during and after pregnancy. Or the symptoms might change. It’s important to address the challenges right away rather than waiting. Reach out for help today so you can get back to the joy of parenthood instead of staying mired in the hard part.
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