Mental Health During Pregnancy
While pregnancy often elicits many positive emotions, it can also cause a woman to experience negative thoughts and feelings. During pregnancy, past family issues, insecurities, relationship difficulties, and financial issues can become real and immediate concerns. A woman who is expecting may find herself experiencing mood swings, fear, anxiety, forgetfulness, or body image issues. Women who experienced depression or anxiety before becoming pregnant may be more likely to experience mental health concerns during pregnancy. When mental health conditions do occur, counseling can be an effective tool for decreasing symptoms during pregnancy as well as prepare you for a healthy postpartum period.
Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
Approximately 15% of mothers develop Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety, or Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Unlike the “baby blues”, these feelings intensify with time and may not go away on their own. Postpartum Anxiety can be especially difficult to pinpoint in the year following birth.
Fathers can also struggle greatly with the transition to parenthood. Your symptoms may be similar to moms or manifest in different ways. It is important to address dad’s feelings and mental health at this big time of change as well. I have experience working with men on this issue and can be a safe place to open up about concerns.
If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, please know professional counseling can help :
- Frequent irritability
- Recurrent and regular crying spells
- Recurrent angry outbursts
- Excessive worrying
- Severe fatigue
- Obsessing over the baby in spite of reassurances
- Not wanting to be with your baby
- Flashbacks of traumatic childbirth or other traumas
- Feelings of inadequacy as a mother
- Feeling overwhelmed, hopeless or depressed
- Fears of harming yourself or the baby
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
Intrusive & Scary Thoughts
- In 3-9% of new mothers, intrusive thoughts are a symptom of a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder and may cause extreme fear, anxiety, and self-doubt
- Intrusive or scary thoughts are not a sign of psychosis. A mother's or father's distress about these thoughts is a good sign
- ALL women who report having intrusive thoughts should be referred to a mental health provider for proper assessment and treatment. This is a very treatable symptom
You Are Not To Blame
If you are having problems, you have probably asked yourself many times, “Why Me?” The most important thing to remember is that this is not your fault. The causes of postpartum difficulties are varied and complex and include biological changes, psychological influences, and relationship factors. It may be a combination of all three affecting you at once.
Seek Support & Help
If it has been at least 2-4 weeks since you had your baby, and your problems are getting worse, you may want to seek additional help. I specialize in Postpartum Adjustment. My approach combines support, education, and a mind/body approach to counseling that is effective and restoring. I often work with women and their partners in the recovery process because postpartum difficulties affect the whole family.