Isolated, sad, hurting, and desperate
The feelings many mothers experience after suffering from a postpartum mood disorder is sometimes without even knowing it. Research shows us that 1 in 10 mothers will suffer with postpartum anxiety while as many as 1 in 5 will suffer with postpartum depression. Keep in mind that these are only statics by mothers officially diagnosed or knew what they were experiencing and were qualified for a mental health disorder. The numbers could be higher.
There are so many changes that mothers go through during and after pregnancy in addition to other factors that can lead to an increased chance of developing postpartum mental health disorders. Pregnancy leads to hormonal changes that can severely impact a mother’s mood. Some people are genetically predisposed to these issues; meaning that depression, anxiety, and other disorders may “run” in their family. Situational factors, such as having limited family or friend support or financial hardships, can also make someone more likely to suffer mental health problems after having a baby.
Mothers are talked to about “The Baby Blues,” mood swings, and feelings of sadness which can happen during 1-2 weeks after having their baby. While it is considered a “normal” adjustment period, mothers should still stay in close contact with their obstetrician or other healthcare providers about any major concerns.
Postpartum mood symptoms tend to linger past this 1-2 week mark and can occur anytime up to a year after having a baby (a whole year!). Postpartum depression can present itself differently for each person, but often mothers feel down, depressed and sad more days than not. They may feel hopeless about the future or loss of interest in caring for themselves and for the baby. They may have low energy, cry frequently, and feel numb and in pain at the same time. Postpartum anxiety can leave mothers feeling constantly worried, restless, easily fatigued, and overly protective of their baby. Logically they may know they need an hour to themselves for alone time, but they can’t possibly let someone else take care of their baby… not for a whole hour… because “what if…”
So let’s say you are a mother feeling these things… suffering alone. What do you do now?
As a mental health provider, these are my tips for mothers who are unsure of where to turn.
Call your OB/GYN and ask to schedule an appointment for a mental health check up or call around to find a specialist in psychiatry- how would you do that? Read on…
To find a psychiatric specialist in your area, first look up the website for your insurance company; they typically have a search option to find providers in your plan. Search for “psychiatric/mental health” providers and call around to see who is accepting new patients. Pain in the butt? Kind of. Worth the effort? Yes! You are worth it tenfold.
Find a therapist. There are a lot of different types of mental health therapists, including licensed clinical counselors, social workers, substance abuse counselors, psychologists, and more. You can search for therapists in your insurance plan the same as medical providers. You can also search www.psychologytoday.com to find therapists near you.
Do some research to find a mental health agency near you. Mental health agencies often offer a variety of services including case management, counseling, group therapy, and sometimes medical providers for medication management. They typically take private insurance as well as medicaid/medicare too, which is really nice. Getting connected with an agency allows a great coordination of care so everything is in one place for you.
If you are looking for more social and mental health support from mothers like yourself, consider joining Mommy’s Mental Health private Facebook Group. We have a constantly growing group of 300+ mothers who share daily articles, “vents”, motivational stories and more in this safe space. Also consider checking out www.mommysmentalhealth.com for additional postpartum resources and anonymous stories from mothers who have experienced postpartum difficulties.
Written by: Olivia Bonnano
Mommy’s Mental Health Matters. Find your support today.
Private Facebook Group: Mommy’s Mental Health