Post-Partum Anxiety and Depression

Post-partum anxiety and depression, until recently, have been wholly misunderstood and disregarded. The severity of such symptoms and their varied timing are not to be overshadowed by the fact that both PPA and PPD are common and treatable. More details are discussed below, shining a much-needed light on maternal health.

  • Shanti: inner peace

  • Bhāvanā: mental insight

  • Karuṇā: guided healing

What Are Post-Partum Anxiety and Depression?

Many people know post-partum anxiety and depression as the ‘baby blues’. However, minimizing it to a feeling of simple sadness that lasts a few weeks and then passes doesn’t do this mental health struggle justice. It’s experienced by 15-20% of expecting and new mothers, making it a fairly common mental health issue across the globe, across cultures, and throughout the varied child-rearing practices associated. It takes many forms and can start even before the baby is born and last for about a year post-partum. Anxiety symptoms tend to be a bit more common than depressive symptoms, but both are as important to delve in to to ensure a healthy transition for both yourself and your baby in this new stage of your life.

Post-partum anxiety (PPA): PPA can take many forms and, unfortunately, develop into a more serious panic or obsessive-compulsive disorder. The complexities underlying carrying, birthing, and raising a child make this mental health issue a difficult one to both recognize as an issue and seek treatment for. Anxiety over giving birth and all that follows is a normal, healthy reaction and it’s becomes difficult to determine alone when those normal worries become harmful to you and your baby. We understand this is a new journey for you and your family, and we want to help guide you through individualized therapy that addresses these complicated feelings and experiences.

Post-partum depression (PPD): PPD is the more commonly discussed, but definitely not enough, of the two post-partum experiences (PPA & PPD). New mothers are expected to be overjoyed and know exactly what to do. This is a social and cultural construct that is not conducive to a healthy mother and baby existence, or relationship. Oftentimes women feel a sense of hopelessness they can’t get rid of, which starts to seep into everything they do. Coupled with the immense responsibility of caring for a child, whether you have a partner or not, the symptoms of PPD can quickly escalate to an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, isolation, and apathy. Discovering who you are and how your family functions after this life-changing experience can take some time and oftentimes requires a bit of therapeutic guidance along the way.

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Post-Partum Issues and COVID-19

Bringing a child into the world during such a complicated time can exacerbate symptoms of postpartum anxiety and depression. The reliance on social resources and support is reduced, there seems to be less time for yourself, and increased time spent isolated with the small family unit. The natural methods of easing anxiety and depression symptoms (i.e. exercise, healthy lifestyle choices, etc.) seem to be much harder to follow when larger life stressors take the priority. We understand the interaction between context and emotional reactions, and we want to assure you that our guidance and counseling options are integrative of today’s world.

Remember, these are mere possibilities and can be interconnected or not involved at all.

  • PPA: history of anxiety (family/individual), situational/contextual factors, lack of sleep, progression of healthy worrying, thyroid imbalance
  • PPD: history of depression (family/individual), decreased social outlets/support, anxiety-inducing circumstances, lack of sleep
    Higher levels of PPA and PPD have been associated with: poverty, teen birth, couple conflict, diabetes

This list is not the end all be all and PPA and PPD can take many forms.

  • PPA: Feeling of impending doom, inability to organize thoughts, sleeping and eating changes, constant antsy feeling, excessive worry, physical mannifestations (panic attack, nausea, fluctuations in temperature)
  • PPD: Guilt, panic, anger, hopeless feeling, little engagement with baby, increased/spontaneous crying, sleeping pattern changes, negative self-harm or infant-harm thoughts, fear, loss of joy in everyday activities, small tasks become much harder, appetite changes
Healing is a complicated journey, not an impossible one. Opening your heart and mind to your own well-being will enlighten your path and reveal your destination.
Our counseling clinic addresses your post-partum experiences as individual in nature. We also recognize the rapid progression of healthy, normal worries into an unhealthy daily struggle where you and your baby’s well-being may begin to slip. Integrating your parenting style, family history/unit makeup, and holistic experiences allows us to take a step by step treatment approach that addresses both the roots and development of your symptoms. We emphasize that taking care of yourself is also consequently taking care of your baby.

Our small steps counseling approach allows you to find who you are again and why you chose to start or grow your family, utilizing whatever tools and structure seem to align effectively with your regular struggles. Our treatment approach is malleable and adaptable to your needs. Some of our guiding principles can be found below, demonstrating our integration of western, traditional psychology and eastern, naturalistic methods. The following are what we use to lead you forward.

Our Therapeutic Approaches

Holistic & Transpersonal

To delve into your post-partum experiences, we take a holistic and Emotionally Focused approach (EFT). Emotionally Focused Therapy looks at you as a whole person, your attachment styles, and bonding pattern and uses this transpersonal and valuable information to address unhealthy patterns of developing behavior and bonding with your baby, alongside your other social connections.

The term holistic also applies to you as not just a mother, but as part of a family unit, and as an individual outside your parental role. By removing yourself from what can be an all-encompassing desire/obligation to always be a mother, your established roles are viewed within an integrative behavioral approach. This assists us, and yourself, in determining how to maintain a healthy, empathetic, and productive functioning of your current familial system and future system.

‘You’-centric & Relational

Our insight-oriented approach allows your own experiences to guide your treatment path. Your therapist will use the information they’re given from your communicative style, past issues, and current raising of issues, to determine the most productive course of action that benefits yourself and your child.

Raising a child has a lot to do with whether or not you have a partner/support and how that support is given and interpreted. If there are relationship issues involved in your PPA or PPD, we may incorporate the Gottman Method of couples therapy into your treatment. This approach addresses the core aspects of affection and mutual respect, helps guide you and your partner through small steps and goals that may be helpful at the beginning stages of raising your child.

Mindfulness

By remaining in the present moment and acknowledging the current goals of a healthier daily life for you and your family, a narrative can be brought forth. It’s important to separate the anxiety and depressive symptoms from you as a person and mother. It’s easy to get lost in them and feel as though it’s your fault for not falling in line with what a mother ‘should be’. Which, honestly, is a highly problematic notion that we, as a society, need to work on. Regardless, staying in the present and coming to see yourself as a whole being, removed from your symptoms, is invaluable in tackling them head-on.

Your Counseling Experience

Each therapeutic experience is different, and each session can unlock helpful and new paths to explore in the healing process. The below are just to give you a general idea, hopefully instilling a bit of confidence and easing of any worry associated with seeking treatment.

  • 45-minute sessions generally, once a week
  • Short-term work can last between 3-6 months or whenever you feel you’ve reached the version of yourself you were seeking
  • Long-term work also lasts as long as you need

How We Choose Your Therapist

  • What you need to reach mental well-being
  • Your personality and energy
  • Your communication style
  • Our therapist’s specialties, training, interests, and own lived experiences
  • Our therapist’s approach and communication style

In the Meantime

Extensive research has found that these simplistic, mindful lifestyle changes have a drastic effect on daily life. Give them a shot if you need some immediate peace.

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Reiki
  • Experiencing nature
  • Conscious, deep breathing
  • Maintain an active lifestyle
  • Healthy diet

FAQs About Post-Partum Anxiety and Depression

This determination is difficult to make without having spoken to you, but it’s safe to say that if these anxious feelings and worries are starting to consume your life and are making things that were previously simple or enjoyable not so anymore, it may be time to seek assistance in managing these symptoms.
Not wanting to care for or engage with your baby is a sign of post-partum depression. Oftentimes, the thought of spending time with them seems impossible, and unfortunately, the baby’s well-being starts to suffer. If this is something you’re experiencing, it is definitely time to seek some outside help and start the path towards a healthier and happier life for you both.
Yes! Some women’s post-partum anxiety takes the form of OCD like symptoms, regardless of whether or not they had OCD before their pregnancy. This can be a new and scary feeling, but it’s important to remember that it is treatable and can be managed with proper care.
Raising a child is an immense responsibility that requires outside social support in many cases. The phrase, “it takes a village” exists for a reason and we want to help guide you towards healthy social outlets that can act as support systems. If you do not have any healthy social connections to rely on, our goal is to help make your day to day motherhood role less overwhelming with different tools and strategies to tackle the difficult day to day events.
Unfortunately, it’s so easy to get lost in your new role and responsibilities. You want to be the best mother you can and oftentimes that comes at the expense of your own well-being. Our clinic will help you to see you as a mother, but also you as so many other things. Separating your roles can also help separate your symptoms.