Having a baby is one of the most dramatic experiences of life, yet we underestimate this major life transition. The subsequent symptoms may impact not only your health and the well being of your baby, but also your marriage, and relationships with extended family members and friends.
In a review of 133 women who experienced a postpartum mood disorder, common feelings included:
“I felt really overwhelmed”
“I felt like my emotions were on a rollercoaster”
“I have been very irritable”
“I have felt all alone”
“I felt like I wasn’t normal”
(Beck & Indeman, 2005)
You don’t have to be crying all the time to benefit from the support of therapy. It may be that you are tired much of the time, have trouble coping with daily tasks, feel lonely and hopeless. You may be worried more than you are used to and may not trust anyone else to take care of the baby. Your confidence and self esteem may be at an all time low. You may be confused about your identity. You may even have repetitive or intrusive thoughts that scare you. What you are experiencing is not your fault. You are not to blame for how you are feeling. It is important to make contact and seek an assessment to find out what support you may need. It also may serve as a relief to discover that your feelings are not as bad as they seem. Therapy can help you gain perspective and feel like yourself again. Together, we will make a plan for your wellness.
Therapy will assess the current challenges you are facing and provide treatment strategies for depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues, return to work decisions, or whatever the presenting problems are. As a result of the therapeutic process, there is personal growth and wellness, relief from maternal mental health conditions, and an improvement in relationship with oneself and others to include the baby.
Therapy can provide a fresh perspective on your current struggles and help you to feel well again. The benefits you obtain from therapy will depend on how well you use the process and apply what we work on together. Some of the benefits available from therapy may include:
- Relief from maternal mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety
- Feeling more confident and capable as a mother
- Learning improved ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Understanding how your family of origin relates to your relationship with your baby and
- Acceptance of labor and delivery outcomes
- Identification of and connection to support systems
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
- Managing anger, grief, depression, anxiety or other emotional pressures
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values in your new role
- Improved sense of well being while pregnant and about your future as a parent
- Strategies to assist in transition to parenthood
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you’ve faced, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it, especially after having a baby. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you are in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools to cope with your new life situation. Often those who experience postpartum depression or other mood disorders often also have perfectionistic qualities and a strong sense of independence. There is a feeling that no help is needed, and there may even be hiding from true feelings for fear of shame and judgement from others. Being honest with yourself and how you feel can only speed up your wellness track.
What is therapy like?
Because each client has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, we may discuss the current struggles happening in your life, explore relevant issues from the past to include family relationships, and you may share your progress, or lack thereof, and insights gained since the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult issues or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions (usually weekly).
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in sessions back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, I may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process – such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, making time to take care of yourself, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.
What about medication vs. psychotherapy?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptoms, therapy addresses the causes of distress and the behavior patterns that curb progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. However, in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action. There are certain medications that are safe for pregnant and nursing mothers. It is important to know there can be side effects to taking medication, but there are also side effects of PPD and other Perinatal Mood Disorders when not taking medication. A referral to a psychiatrist specializing in maternal care may be made to determine if medication is recommended.
Do you take insurance and how does that work?
At this time, I am an out of network provider. Therefore, you will need to check your insurance plan to determine reimbursement for out of network providers. To determine if you have mental health coverage for out of network providers, the first thing you should do is call your insurance carrier. Check your coverage carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask them:
- What are my mental health benefits?
- Do I need to meet a deductible before reimbursement is granted for out of network providers?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session for out of network providers?
- How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
- Is approval required from my primary care physician?
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but duirng a therapy session. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want me to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law I cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
- Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
- If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threated to harm another person.