ROLE BALANCING AND LIFE TRANSITIONS
As women in today's world, we are under constant stress. Many of us are part of the workforce, holding down demanding jobs while also managing our families. Or perhaps serving as caregivers to elderly parents or special needs kids. Many of us are in marriages that are less than happy or in the worst cases, abusive.
Many are going through divorce or are single. There are also stay-at-home moms facing the challenge to redefine themselves and reenter the work force when their last child finishes school. Some women have to find ways to cope with an “empty nest” when their kids inevitably leave home.
Finally, retirement comes, along with a whole new set of challenges. How to find fulfillment as older adults with more serious health needs? How can we cope with the changes that come as we begin to age and still live joyful, interesting, and exciting lives?
Just when everything seems more predictable, our adult children need to move back in for a while. How do we balance the demands of the unanticipated return of parental responsibility, especially when our children are experiencing new challenges? Throughout all of these transitions we are faced with the constant challenges of our ever- changing bodies and their unique needs.
Any of the these many challenges may leave a woman distressed, depressed or anxious. I offer therapy that gives women a safe place to unburden themselves, figure things out in a supportive environment, gain insight, and acquire additional coping skills.
Therapy for Postpartum Depression and Challenges (Pregnancy and beyond)
Coping with Pregnancy and Postpartum Mental Health
- Are you able to laugh and see the funny side of things?
- Are you looking forward with enjoyment to things?
- Are you blaming yourself unnecessarily?
- Do you feel more irritable or angry then before your pregnancy?
- Do you feel anxious or panicky for no good reason?
- Are you having problems with eating or sleeping?
- Are you having upsetting thoughts that you can’t dismiss?
- Are things getting to you?
- Do you fear becoming or being a mother?
- Are you unhappy or down or sad most of the time?
- Do you have thoughts of harming yourself?
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Concerns or Disorders (PMAD)
If you answered “Yes” to one or more of the questions above, it could indicate that you are suffering from a form of perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, such as postpartum depression.
Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD) span the time period from pregnancy though the first year after delivery. Anytime during this period you can develop symptoms. These symptoms can range from bothersome to debilitating, and can even become life threatening.
PMAD impacts an estimated 15-21% of women (during pregnancy and through the first year after giving birth). It can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, or socioeconomic status. PMADs are not preventable and they are not your fault! The good news is that with treatment they will pass. It is important to get treatment as soon as possible as your symptoms may get much worse and last longer without help. Not only are you suffering, but your relationship with your baby, your spouse, and your family can become disrupted. You are not alone. There is reason to hope. Get help now!
Pregnancy means change. The growing baby inside you causes your body to go through pronounced hormonal, emotional and physical changes. Often, not only your body but your relationships and activities are already changing as your pregnancy can place limitations on your lifestyle. Sometimes pregnancy can mean feeling sick, being worried about the baby’s and your own health, and may cause trepidation about the life to come and your capacity to handle it.
Having to cope with so many changes places you at risk for developing anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Feeling “moody” or out of sorts sometimes is normal but 15-20% of women will experience severe depression and anxiety during their pregnancy. Getting help now can make a positive difference for your pregnancy and postpartum experience
PREGNANCY INFANT LOSS
In our culture, we have words to acknowledge the loss of loved ones. For example, a spouse losing his partner is referred to as a widower, or a child losing his or her parent is called an orphan. Unfortunately, we don’t have word for a parent who loses her infant. The loss of a baby is one of the most painful experiences a woman can have, and sometimes our culture is not equipped to help us heal.
Whether you lose your baby by miscarriage or, after 20 weeks or later, by stillbirth, your grief may become unbearable and overwhelming, and leave you emotionally numb. Your moods may alternate between disbelief, anger, despair, and sadness. You may feel lonely and find it difficult to connect to your partner or loved ones.
In his or her own grief your partner may not be able to provide you with the understanding or the support you need. This can make you feel isolated and lonely. Finding therapy and support to help you through your grief can be healing.
When for whatever reason, a pregnancy must be terminated, the effects can be devastating and traumatic. Not only do you need to cope with your loss but you may also need to share painful news with family and friends. Grief, anger, sadness, and disappointment can make it hard for you to move on and can leave you at risk of developing severe depression and feeling you have no way to move forward with your life.
COPING WITH TRAUMATIC CHILD BIRTH/(NICU) EXPERIENCES
- Do you feel like you are reliving a traumatic birth or hospital experience over and over again?
- Do you have flashbacks or nightmares about your experience?
- Do you avoid all reminders of the event and become anxious and panicky when you can’t?
- Do you constantly feel on edge or anxious, irritable?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, please consider that you might be suffering post-traumatic stress disorder that can be effectively treated with the EMDR therapy.
TRAUMATIC CHILDBIRTH/NICU EXPERIENCE
No women plans on experiencing traumatic child birth when she becomes pregnant. Being in a situation in which you are helpless, feel out of control and fear for your own or your baby’s safety can be traumatic. It is not only terrifying when it happens but it can leave you with Postpartum PTSD. Nine percent of women experience Postpartum PTSD after an emotionally trying birth or an emotionally draining NICU experience.
Unresolved birth trauma can also create relationship stress between you and your partner and make it difficult for you to bond with your child. The good news is that Postpartum PTSD can be temporary and responds well to treatment.
POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
The Baby Blues
You have probably heard of the “baby blues.” It refers to the time right after birth when new mothers may feel overwhelmed, worried, fatigued or unhappy. It is a perfectly normal reaction to the adjustment of having a new responsibility: to care for and bond with your child.
These symptoms occur with 70-80% of women who give birth. They are often relatively mild and resolve on their own within a couple of weeks. Talking about your feelings and letting people know what you need might be enough to get you through this rough patch. But if you feel this is not bringing you enough relief, therapy can help you figure out how to move into motherhood with fewer struggles
Coping with Postpartum Depression
- Are you depressed?
- Do you feel more irritable or angry then you did before your pregnancy?
- Are you finding it difficult to bond with your baby?
- Do you often feel anxious or panicky?
- Are you having problems eating or sleeping?
- Do you find yourself often out of sorts or “acting crazy”?
- Are you having upsetting thoughts that you can’t easily dismiss?
- Do you doubt your ability to take care of your baby?
- Do you feel like you should never have become a mother?
- Are you worried that you might hurt your baby or yourself?
- Are you having a hard time bonding with your baby?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, please consider that you might be suffering perinatal mood swings or anxiety disorder, such as postpartum depression, you should feel no shame in asking for help.
POST PARTUM DEPRESSION
You may feel totally overwhelmed. You may feel like you can’t cope with the demands of motherhood and that it's all too much. Some women even start to wonder whether they made a mistake in becoming a mom. Feelings of guilt can arise when your depressed brain is telling you that you are not doing a good job being a mother and maybe your baby deserves more. Bonding with your baby may not be happening in the way you imagined. Perhaps you’re not having the mothering experience you wanted or dreamed about.
Not every mom with postpartum depression feels this way, but many do. This happens to about 15% of women who give birth, and it’s not their fault. It can happen to any woman, regardless of age, race, or demographic status, and it’s not linked to anything they did or didn’t do. Its causes are believed to be a combination of physical and emotional factors.
Often postpartum depression starts within one to four weeks after giving birth, but it can also show up any time within the 12 months following childbirth. Untreated, postpartum depression can last for months or even years. It can not only cause intense suffering, but it can also interrupt the mother and child bonding process and affect your other relationships. The good news is that PPD responds well to treatment, including both talk therapy and medication..
Postpartum Anxiety & OCD
If you have had a baby within the last 12 months and are experiencing some of these symptoms, you may have postpartum anxiety or postpartum OCD:
- You can’t seem to calm down and your thoughts race. You can’t relax and it feels like you have to be doing something at all times, such as cleaning baby items or working on projects. Even entertaining the baby does not bring you joy or relaxation. You check up on the baby frequently and worry about him/her all the time. Your worries might be baby-specific or more general in nature.
- You may also notice disturbing thoughts that you can’t dismiss. These thoughts may be scary, shocking, or horrifying, and may make you question yourself. You might find yourself doing things to reduce these fears. Sometimes these thoughts can leave a woman afraid to be alone with her baby.
- Some women may feel the need to check up on things constantly. Is the door locked? Is the car locked? Have I turned off the oven? Is the baby breathing?
- Physical symptoms like stomach cramps, headaches, shakiness, or nausea are common signs of anxiety. You might have difficulty sleeping even though you are tired.
If you are having these feelings and symptoms, then it is possible you may have a perinatal anxiety disorder, a common illnesses that 15-20% of new mothers experience. It is treatable, you can recover, and I would be glad to assist you in feeling better again.
Working with women who have a challenging start into their motherhood journey is a passion of mine. The start of my mothering journey began when my newborn son’s life was saved by a rescue flight and subsequent 12-day NICU stay. This was followed by months of medical intervention and lactation challenges. Having experienced early mothering challenges firsthand, I am now committed to helping other moms through this difficult time.
I have knowledge and training in working with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, as well as extensive experience with trauma therapy.
I know how difficult and overwhelming it can be for you as a new mom to manage the logistics of childcare to come to therapy. To make coming to therapy easier for you, I invite you to bring your infant along until you are ready and able to come alone.