My first childbirth went rather smooth. I felt horrible pain, but my baby came out after an hour. I thought to myself I never want to give birth again, and I guess that’s what most moms say after a delivery. Then, after two years of enjoying being a mom to my firstborn, I got pregnant again. Honestly, I wasn’t that excited. I was more of terrified. I couldn’t bear the thought of feeling the same amount of pain, but then, believing it will be all worth it, I thought I just had to be strong and prepare myself once again.
We all know that being a mother is no joke. Mothers need to endure a lot of things such as nine months of physical discomfort, more than an hour of uncontrolled pain in delivery, stress, and anxiety from environmental toxicity, family issues, and career decisions, and the list goes on. Sadly, for some other people, they don’t take mothers seriously. They assume that because they decide to give and create a life, they should get stuck with its duties and responsibilities.
Congratulations, you are now a mother! However, did you notice that upon giving birth, you felt anxious, upset or uncomfortable? If these feelings linger, these will be some of the symptoms of postpartum mood disorder.
“A new baby is the most exciting event on earth, but caring for the baby is a major new life adaptation. Baby blues is very common – crying and irritability and to deal with it, one needs loving support, and others on hand to share in the care,” wrote psychiatrist Robert Berezin, M.D.
PPD is closely linked to depression and similar mental illnesses. The anticipation and pressure of having a child are different from having a tiny person depend on you 24/7. It causes psychological disruption that even some mothers cannot fully comprehend.
“Overwhelmed by a quintessential force that feels both euphoric and inconsolable, she looks into the eyes of a child she doesn’t know,” wrote Karen Kleiman MSW, LCSW, founder and director of The Postpartum Stress Center, LLC. “Imagine the strain, the pressure, the utter disbelief in her capacity to respond appropriately.”
If you think you might have PPD, do not feel that you are a terrible person for your untoward feelings for your baby. It is just a phase that your mental state will conquer eventually.
Thankfully, this condition is now treatable through different methods, a combination of counseling and medication. Before doing any harm, read on to see how crucial early treatment is to recover immediately. Do not be ashamed to admit that you need help, especially since the health of your baby is also concerned.
Here are some information, insights, and advice on how to get through this challenging stage of motherhood with counseling.
Counseling As A Sounding Board
During the first nights with your baby, you will discover that your baby can become very fussy and demanding! This behavior is brought about by changes in the environment and sometimes, a growth spurt.
If you are a breastfeeding mom, you will find yourself waking up to cries (or shrieks) every 2 hours. It means you will have little, or no sleep, at all. Some babies want to latch onto their mothers for reassurance. Thus, they will cry more if you lay them down on their cot.
More often than not, the mothers are more hands-on in taking care of the baby. Husbands can only help in burping your baby and changing diapers, but the bulk of the work remains with mothers.
The perceived lack of support from relatives, more importantly, your husband, can cause you to harbor negative feelings toward other people. Raising these feelings in counseling can help you process these feelings constructively. Harboring these feelings longer than it should lead to more negative emotions and self-pity. These could be the springboard for mood disorders.
Importance Of Self-Care
You should not underestimate the importance of self-care when your family becomes your top priority. Talking to experts, especially when you are usually left alone at home with your child is indeed necessary. It will help lessen the chances of negative feelings to lead to post-partum depression in the long run. It will help you to become more of the mother you are aspiring to be.
Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D., clinical psychologist at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders assures, “You are not a bad mom if you have postpartum illness, and reaching out for help—to your doctor or a qualified therapist—makes you a great one.”
Motherhood is already a daunting task. In addition to that, other issues such as personal challenges, bouts with your husband, or other family concerns that will appear in the course of your life. Your life will inevitably change. Talking frequently with a trusted counsel is an option if you want to maintain anoptimal state of mind.
Most people believe that being a mother is the most challenging job in the entire world. Hence, do not beat yourself up for trying to be the best mother right away. It admittedly takes time and practice.
Oh yes! Baby blues is a far different condition from postpartum depression. The former is not a mental health issue, and it will go away on its own without the need for treatment or counseling. As for postpartum depression, it is a severe ailment that affects the mind of women who have just given birth. More often, these women go through a destructive phase, and various help systems are required to treat the issue.
Dina Cagliostro, PhD, distinguished baby blues and postpartum depression by saying, “Women that give birth and struggle with sadness, anxiety or worry for several weeks or more may have postpartum depression (PPD). While the baby blues tend to pass quickly, PPD can be long-lasting and severely affect a woman’s ability to get through her daily routine.”
The baby blues
Hormones and emotions are intimately intertwined which are why there is a condition called “baby blues.” Studies have shown that almost eighty percent of women who recently gave birth are suffering this roller coaster of feelings called baby blues and that’s because of their hormones. When a woman is pregnant, all her hormones are intact and ready to sustain a healthy pregnancy. But after the baby is delivered, these same hormones will rapidly drop. It is the reason why a woman who has just given birth will experience irritability, weepiness and being overwhelmed.
The baby blues condition is not an alarming issue. It will just dissipate as the mother’s body will adjust to its new role. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, affects the remaining 20% of new mothers. And this is something that needs immediate treatment. Sometimes called postnatal depression, it can also bring about the existence of anxiety problems. Mothers don’t only deal with one mental health issue, but they are trying and perhaps failing to cope with two mental health problems.
If you feel like you have post-natal depression, don’t prolong your suffering. Go to your family doctor and open up about your concerns. He will direct you to a specialist or offer advice as to what you can do. With unlimited support from family and friends, and necessary treatment, therapy, or counseling, women with post-natal depression will make it through and recover completely.
What to do if you have post-natal depression
There are ways three ways to help yourself overcome post-natal depression.
You can practice self-help techniques to beat your post-natal depression.
It is advisable for women with post-natal depression to go into therapy or counseling.
The doctor might prescribe post-natal depression meds, depending on the severity of your condition.
All the ways to help, as mentioned here, have advantages and disadvantages. Talk to your doctor about it so that you can decide which avenue is best for you. Your doctor will also have to check your medical history and physical health before prescribing medication especially when you’ve just given birth.
Depression is more common than you think, especially for women who just gave birth. It’s called postpartum depression wherein new moms have that feeling of hopelessness and helplessness a few weeks after delivery. Depression is a real illness, and it’s plaguing more or less 10 percent of Americans in the country today.
The Thin Line That Borders Grief And Postpartum Depression
A mother is grieving for her lost baby minutes, hours or months after he’s born very heartbreakingly for us. For the mother, though, the pain of her loss can be devastating. After all, her body went through all the changes needed – physical and hormonal – to accommodate the baby only to lose that bundle of joy she anticipated for so much to death.
With this said, only a thin line stands between grief over a baby’s loss and postpartum depression. The former can morph into the latter. How will we be able to know when to let a bereaved mother grieve over what she lost and when to draw the line and call for help?
“Always so happy and cheerful, uncle. She’s amazing.” I said to him.
“That’s because we’re on vacation. She is on a high, all happy and fired up. But once we get home, it will be depressive phase all over again.” He said to me with sad eyes.
“What do you mean uncle? Is auntie suffering from depression?” I asked him.
“Not just depression. Your auntie has bipolar disorder.” He said with a firm voice, and you can feel his concern.
Bipolar disorder. My favorite aunt has a mental health condition. What happened to her? I researched about the illness, and this is what I found out.
What is a bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental health issue that impacts a person’s moods. At one time, the person can be thrilled and manic, overactive and at a state of high. After that, you need to expect a downhill of emotions, usually the extreme or opposite of overjoy which is depression. The person will then become so down and lethargic.
Statistics of people with bipolar disorder in the US
Studies show that at least 5.7 million American people have bipolar disorder. It is about 2.6% of the population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health and it usually occurs to people over 18 years of age.
How to live with bipolar disorder
The disorder can interfere with a person’s everyday life. It is because of the moods which are so extreme, and it’s so difficult to manage, at times. Who can cope with being super joyful and jumping up and down with happiness today while tomorrow, you can be overly depressed, hopeless, helpless and maybe even suicidal? It is not a joke. This is a real problem, and it is happening.
“Manic episodes can be brief, but there is such a long tail of disruption to one’s life — the money spent, the affairs had, the cars crashed, the bosses alienated,” said Michael Otto, PhD, professor of psychology and director of the Translational Research Program at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University. “Early intervention can head off the destructiveness of those episodes.” If you want to live a healthy life, you have to will yourself to get better and focus on bipolar disorder treatment.
Treatment options for people with bipolar disorder
There are medications called “mood stabilizers” that can regulate a manic episode, hypomania (or a lesser state of mania), and clinical depression. These prescription drugs must be taken daily without fail by the person with bipolar disorder to work correctly. Ask your therapist or certified bipolar disorder specialist for this option, if it will be the best approach for you.
Medicine to primarily treat depression may also work for someone with bipolar disorder. Signs and symptoms of manic episodes and depression may be curbed as it occurs.
Psychotherapy is also a treatment option for people with bipolar disorder. Talk therapy helps in dealing with depression, and one can even learn of ways to improve their behavior. “The first line of intervention for bipolar disorder is medication,” said Simon A. Rego, PsyD, ABPP, ACT, chief psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center and associate professor and director of psychology training of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “But some patients with bipolar disorder may have trouble complying with medication and/or dealing with the consequences of the disorder.” He added, implying that this is where psychosocial therapies can help patients.
Sleep deprivation “is one of the biggest triggers for a manic episode,” psychotherapist Sheri Van Dijk, MSW explained. She emphasized that “it’s very important for people with bipolar disorder to have a regular sleep schedule.” Sleep, regular exercise, and a healthy eating lifestyle can also do wonders for people with the condition. When a person is well-rested, it is less likely for him to be depressed. If he is involved in positive activities, he can learn to keep his good mood intact. Natural foods are also the best option in transmitting feel-good hormones to the brain compared to processed foods.
A combination of the treatment options mentioned above is the best solution.
I want my aunt to be able to manage her disorder because I love her so much. She is my second mother. And so, I went to her and hugged her tight. She was surprised by the action, but after a few seconds, she hugged me back. I told her, “You have me beside you, all the way.” Her only answer was “I know, kiddo. I love you too.”