Pregnancy brings with it a tide of emotions. While some women describe feeling joyful, empowered, and hopeful during pregnancy and in the post partum period, others may struggle with feelings of sadness, isolation, anger, fear, uncertainty and even numbness. It is also not uncommon to experience a combination of extreme joy and devastating lows.
While some increased stress and sensitivity are common in pregnancy and the post partum period, it is important to seek help if the way you are feeling concerns you or others around you. Your body and mind go through a lot in pregnancy and the post partum period- you deserve to take care of yourself! Your health and wellbeing are also important to your child’s wellbeing and ability to bond and develop appropriately.
If your ability to live life to the fullest is interrupted, you may be suffering from a mental illness related to pregnancy and the post partum period, and you aren’t alone! A recent study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that 27% of mothers in the study suffered from mental health disorders.
The good news? Most disorders are highly treatable! With the right treatment, many mothers experience a relief in symptoms in just a few short weeks or months. If you are struggling with negative or numb feelings, don’t wait because there is help available. You can reduce your suffering and increase your experience of joy with your new family.
It is important to get assessed by a mental health professional to determine a specific diagnosis and a treatment plan, which may include therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. While many people are familiar with post partum depression, women can also struggle with anxiety, eating disorders, adjustment disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others- both in pregnancy and in the post partum period.
It is important to remember that sadness is not the only feeling that may be a cause for concern. Excessive anger, excessive anxiety, disassociation, fear, panic, difficulty bonding with your baby or connecting with family, problems with sleeping, eating, or ability to focus, and even numbness are all important symptoms that can be alleviated through treatment.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an evidence-based talk therapy treatment that addresses both thought patterns and behavior. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (or CBT) is provided by many mental health providers and may be covered by your insurance plan. There are also often free community resources available for women who are pregnant and post partum. During this life changing, stressful, amazing and challenging time, take the time to assess your mental health and ask for help and support– from your partner, friends, family, therapist and doctor, as needed. You and your baby deserve for you to feel happiness and peace in your motherhood.
Author of the article, Christine Catron is a licensed clinical social worker, writer, honors graduate of University of Kentucky, and the founder of LexCounseling, a therapy practice in Lexington, KY committed to helping people find their light. At LexCounseling, clients are treated for depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and more. For more information, visit www.LexCounseling.com. When Christine is not doing therapy, you can find her enjoying time with her animals, music, books, and the outdoors.