In the days and first few months following your child’s birth, how are you feeling? Maybe, you are overwhelmed by mood swings that lead to excessive crying. Perhaps you can’t explain why you don’t want to hold or cuddle with your baby. You’ve lost all joy and pleasure in the activities that used to put a smile on your face. What’s your worst fear creating anxiety and insomnia? You’ll never make a good mother. You might be like 13% of new American mothers. If you are experiencing these and other symptoms, you may be depressed. Our postpartum depression therapists at Evanston Counseling are here to help you. Take heart, we can get through this together and help you be the mom you want to be while still being the prepregnant you.
What is postpartum depression?
The Cleveland Clinic describes postpartum depression like this:
a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that occur after giving birth that are attributed to the chemical, social, and psychological changes associated with having a baby.
You may be experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms of postpartum depression:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Researchers say that postpartum depression begins around one to three weeks and up to a year after your child’s birth. They connect lowered levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone to your mood. Yet, they cannot say with certainty how these hormones affect your feelings.
How you see yourself as a woman has forever changed after becoming a mother. You may feel challenged emotionally by these shifts in your identity.
Your freedom of mobility becomes limited as you now need to consider your child’s well-being many times before your own well-being.
All of these changes in your life can start to weigh heavily on you and end up as postpartum depression and anxiety.
Is Postpartum Depression Treatable?
YES, postpartum depression is highly treatable! Seek help if you are experiencing any of the following:
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
- Depressed mood for most of the day, nearly every day for the last two weeks.
- Feeling anxious, guilty, hopeless, scared, panicked, or worthless.
- Difﬁculty thinking, concentrating [or] making decisions, or dealing with everyday situations.
You’ll want to create a “village” around you to help manage this tender time of life for you and your family.
Your team will consist of a postpartum depression therapist like our counselors at Evanston Counseling. Also, you’ll want to visit your medical provider to rule out physical reasons for your feelings. Lastly, enlist family and friends to come alongside you.
How Your Postpartum Depression Therapist Can Help
Our therapists respect how you feel and what you are going through. They get it and will not judge you if you resent your child, want to escape to Mexico, or feel like harming yourself or your child.
You may feel this should be one of the happiest times of your life. They will compassionately lead you into gently holding your emotions.
The Evanston Counseling therapists may use a methodology called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). You can read more about CBT here and here. Studies have shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is very effective in treating depression. You’ll identify where any negative thinking pattern is influencing your behavior. You will learn how to interrupt the cycle of negative thoughts and create thinking patterns that will bring you greater joy.
What’s the Role of My Medical Provider with Postpartum Depression?
After receiving your medical history, evaluating your symptoms, and examining you, your physician will be able to determine if there is a physical cause for your depression. For instance, your thyroid may not be functioning as it should. This could be the reason for your extreme fatigue and lack of energy.
Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant to help lift your heavy mood if there is no physical cause for your depression.
Lifestyle Changes: Enlist the Help of Family and Friends
Lifestyle changes may also help to lighten the heaviness you are feeling. We recommend that you move more, perhaps with a walk around your block. Eat the most nutritious foods possible. As much as you are able, increase your sleep and rest.
Our recommendations are a tall order! Pick one to focus on at a time. Ask family and friends to help by babysitting so you can get outside for your stroll. Perhaps, your team can arrange to drop off meals to eliminate your need to shop and cook. Anything you can do will have an impact.
Life can get better. You can feel better.
Reach out to us. Our Evanston Therapists are here to support you through this season of your life.
If you’re feeling depressed and heavy about navigating motherhood and would like to explore how a Postpartum Therapist at Evanston Counseling could help you, call us at (773) 983-8444 for a free, 15-minute phone conversation. We will listen and direct you to the right person to help you with depression. Or you can schedule a time to chat with us here to learn how our therapists can help you better manage your postpartum depression.