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Therapy for Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PPMAD)

Therapy for Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PPMAD)

Does It Seem Like Other New Moms Have It All Together, But You’re Struggling?

Are you a new mom confused by conflicting emotions of joy and sadness? Despite times of excitement over motherhood, do you also frequently feel empty and detached from your baby or others?

Perhaps you’re constantly exhausted by all of life’s demands as a new parent, finding it difficult to sleep, while crying throughout the day. You may even fear that you are not a good mother because you are feeling disconnected from your new baby and worried that you won’t bond. As a result, you may be concerned that something more serious than the “baby blues” is going on, but you find yourself suffering in silence, too embarrassed or scared to tell others how you’re really doing.

Many of the symptoms you are experiencing can be caused by the changes that your body undergoes during pregnancy and after giving birth, such as changes in hormonal levels. These physiological changes may lead to feelings of anxiousness or depression and unwanted intrusive thoughts after you have given birth. And while the “baby blues” can be uncomfortable, it is a normal experience for many new moms that usually ends after a few weeks. 

However, if your symptoms have become more intense and are lasting longer, they can begin to affect your ability to take care of yourself or your baby. Acute emotional problems lasting longer than a few weeks after birth can develop into postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PPMAD), including anxiety, depression, OCD, and more serious disturbances. 

If you’re struggling as a new mother and are affected by PPMAD, there is hope. You don’t have to go through this alone. Postpartum therapy can help you feel better by providing you with the support and guidance of a skilled therapist who can help you understand and manage your symptoms so you can return to feeling more like yourself.

Every New Mom Struggles

Social media can make it seem as if other new moms have it all together and love their new life with their little ones. It’s easy to forget that most people share only the best parts of their life on these platforms. 

During pregnancy and after giving birth, the minds and bodies of new moms go through drastic changes. Despite the fact that such major adjustments in our bodies can leave us feeling constantly rundown, changing hormone levels are actually necessary, normal, and even beneficial. For instance, they help us give our babies the essential things they need to grow and develop during pregnancy, induce feelings of love, facilitate connection with our baby, prepare us for breastfeeding, and more. But they can also make us think we’re “going crazy.” 

PPMAD affects many women across all cultures, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds. In fact, research shows that one in seven women experience postpartum depression.1

We may wonder, “why me?” and “did I do something to cause this?” The answer is “no.”   It’s not our fault. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders can have any number of causes. In addition to physiological changes, there are other risk factors—stress related to work, home, or relationships; a limited support system; difficulty breastfeeding; giving birth to multiples; the loss of a loved one or a difficult pregnancy; a family history of mental health issue or a previous diagnosis; the emotional impact of a traumatic birth experience; and more.

On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic confronts us with yet more challenges during this important transition into parenthood—social distancing precaution and isolation from the support network we used to have prior to the pandemic, such as visitors in the hospital or help with meal preparation or household responsibilities. Add to this the other challenges COVID presents regarding childcare, working from home, and possibly schooling other children at home, and it’s not a surprise that moms are struggling.  

When we feel alone and exhausted, with so many demands for our attention, dealing with the needs of an infant can seem next to impossible. We may even come to believe that thinking about self-care is selfish.

There is help, however. You don’t have to go through this alone. Postpartum therapy will honor your unique journey to motherhood and parenting while providing you with the support you need.

Postpartum Therapy Can Help You Feel Like Yourself Again

For many moms, postpartum symptoms will go away with time; but for others, time does not become the “cure.” When you’re confused by the many different, and often conflicting emotions—sadness, anger, resentment, excitement, and joy—a professional counselor can provide the support and guidance you need to manage these complex thoughts and feelings.

Postpartum therapy can help new mothers make sense of their experiences and hopeful that they can find happiness and peace, even in the midst of the many demands of life. 

How Does Postpartum Therapy Work?

Each woman has her own unique life story and birth story, and this truth should guide the therapist in creating a treatment plan tailored specifically to each of the moms they work with. Perinatal therapists providing teletherapy can offer an encouraging therapeutic virtual space that facilitates honest discussion, exploration, and expression about the varied experiences you have as a new mother.

Generally the process to get started is simple. After a short phone consultation, and before thefirst session, you will be asked to fill out paperwork typically through an online HIPAA compliant portal. Sometimes this process also includes completing a series of brief assessments. In your first session or two, you'll discuss your history, the symptoms you’re experiencing, and your concerns, needs, and goals for therapy. From there, you and your therapist will create an individualized treatment plan to address your identified challenges and concerns. During ongoing sessions, you will come to a deeper understanding of PPMAD and its development in your life. You'll work on addressing the challenges you’re facing and work together with your tele therapist to identify healthy coping strategies to help you feel happy and whole again.

Research shows that several modalities positively impact PPMAD, and most perinatal Teletherapists use them in their work—Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), supportive psychotherapy, and psychoeducation. 

Most Teletherapists approaches to postpartum therapy is holistic, individualized, and person-centered, supporting you in your journey to wellness through empathy, authenticity, and acceptance. They will focus on addressing the whole person and not just the symptoms so you can effectively manage anxiety and depression during pregnancy or postpartum, navigate parenthood, and experience lasting, positive change in your life.

Perhaps you still have questions about postpartum therapy...

I’m worried that therapy isn’t exactly in my budget or that I don’t have the time for it either.

Finding the value in therapy before you even get started can be challenging because you haven’t experienced the benefits yet. It often takes several sessions before you start seeing real change. Try to look at therapy as an investment, in which you grow skills over time that can help you manage your postpartum depression and anxiety. Not only can this investment help you improve your overall quality of life and ease your mental distress, it can also help to enhance your bond with your newborn baby.

If you select an online counselor, because therapy sessions are delivered online or via phone, this can help you save time and money. As you work in the comfort of your own home or office, you won’t have to travel to a therapy office and you may also decide to tend to your baby during a session, which saves on childcare costs. 

Does seeking out help mean that I am somehow less of a mother?

No, it doesn’t. Many myths still exist around mental health during and after pregnancy; including that you must have done something wrong during pregnancy if you developed PPMAD, or that you are not a good mother if you don’t feel connected to your baby. The truth is that each of these statements is a myth. You have nothing to be ashamed of for seeking help for a serious disorder. Instead, try to be proud of your bravery to find the help you need.

I think I’ll be fine—won’t these symptoms go away on their own?

Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders are more than a passing phase. Unlike the “baby blues,” these disorders don’t just disappear after a few weeks. Their symptoms usually become more intense, and, if left untreated, they can persist for a long time and possibly worsen. You will have the best chance at managing your PPMAD by working with a professional in pregnancy and postpartum therapy.

Find The Joys Of New Motherhood

If you’re ready to get started with postpartum therapy and receive the help you need for your anxiety or depression during or after your pregnancy, work with an online perinatal therapist to help you start feeling like yourself again.

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