Becoming a mother is a life-changing experience filled with joy, excitement, and challenges. However, for some women, this new chapter in life can also come with overwhelming feelings of sadness, anxiety, and despair.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious mental health issue that affects many new mothers, and the support of psychologists, therapists, and counselling services can be invaluable in overcoming this struggle. This article will explore postpartum depression, its symptoms, and how counselling services can help new mothers navigate this challenging time.
Understanding the Different Types of Postpartum Mood Disorders
1. Baby Blues
The Baby blues is the mildest form of postpartum depression and is experienced by up to 80% of new mothers. It typically begins within the first few days after childbirth and lasts up to two weeks.
Symptoms of baby blues are thought to be caused by hormonal changes, physical exhaustion, and the emotional adjustment to motherhood. These may include:
- Mood swings
- Sadness or irritability
- Trouble sleeping
- Crying spells
Although baby blues can be distressing, it generally resolves on its own without the need for medical intervention.
3. Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Postpartum depression is a more severe form of postpartum mood disorder that affects about 1 in 7 new mothers. PPD can begin anytime within the first year after childbirth but most commonly arises within the first three months.
Unlike the baby blues, PPD requires treatment as it can affect a mother’s ability to care for herself and her baby. Symptoms of PPD may include:
- Persistent sadness, hopelessness, or guilt.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed.
- Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or excessive sleeping.
- Appetite changes, which can lead to weight loss or gain.
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
- Fatigue or lack of energy.
- Thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby.
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts.
The causes of postpartum depression are complex and can be attributed to a combination of physical, hormonal, and emotional factors. The sudden drop in hormones after childbirth, coupled with sleep deprivation and the stress of caring for a newborn, can contribute to the development of PPD.
Additionally, a history of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues can also increase the risk of experiencing postpartum depression.
3. Postpartum Anxiety
Although anxiety is a common and normal experience during pregnancy and postpartum, postpartum anxiety becomes a concern when it interferes with daily functioning and well-being. Symptoms of postpartum anxiety may include:
- Constant worry or fear
- Racing thoughts
- Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
- Irritability or restlessness
- Physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, dizziness, or shortness of breath
4. Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum psychosis is a rare and severe form of postpartum mood disorder, affecting 1-2 out of every 1,000 new mothers. It usually develops within the first two weeks after childbirth and requires immediate medical attention, as it can pose a risk to both the mother and her baby. Symptoms of postpartum psychosis may include:
- Delusions or false beliefs
- Hallucinations or seeing/hearing things that are not there
- Extreme mood swings, such as mania or depression
- Disorientation or confusion
- Paranoia or suspiciousness
- Disorganized or bizarre behaviour
- Thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby
Treatment for postpartum psychosis typically involves a combination of medication and hospitalization to ensure the safety of both the mother and the baby. Once the mother has stabilized, therapy and support from healthcare professionals can help her recover and transition back to daily life.
The Role of Counselling Services in Postpartum Depression
Navigating the complex world of postpartum depression can be daunting, but there is hope for those struggling with this condition.
Counselling services provided by psychologists and therapists can be an invaluable resource for mothers experiencing PPD. They offer a safe, supportive, and non-judgmental environment to explore and understand the emotions and challenges accompanying this difficult time.
One of the primary goals of counselling services for postpartum depression is to help mothers develop coping strategies for managing their symptoms and improving their overall mental health. This may involve teaching relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation, to help alleviate feelings of anxiety and stress.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is another common treatment approach used by psychologists and therapists in PPD counselling, as it focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and beliefs that may be contributing to depression. Counselling services can also help mothers navigate the practical aspects of their new role, such as managing childcare demands, balancing work and family life, and maintaining a healthy relationship with their partner.
The Importance of Support Networks
While individual counselling services are essential to postpartum depression treatment, it is also important for mothers to receive support from other sources. Engaging with a network of supportive individuals, such as friends, family members, and other new mothers, can provide a sense of connection and understanding that can be incredibly therapeutic during this difficult time.
Psychologists and therapists often encourage mothers experiencing PPD to join support groups, as these gatherings provide a safe space to share experiences, discuss challenges, and learn from one another. Support groups can be found through local community centres, hospitals, or mental health organizations, and many are specifically designed for mothers dealing with postpartum depression.
The Road to Recovery
Recovering from postpartum depression can be a challenging and ongoing process, but with the proper support and resources, it is possible to overcome this condition and reclaim a sense of well-being and happiness.
Through seeking help from qualified professionals such as psychologists and therapists and engaging with a network of supportive individuals, mothers can begin to navigate the journey of postpartum depression with hope and confidence.
In search of counselling services in Calgary? Virtuous Circle Counselling is the perfect place for you. We provide extensive counselling and evaluation services to assist you or someone you care about during challenging times. Contact us now to schedule your initial counselling appointment.