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Maternal Mental Health

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About Maternal Mental Health

While pregnancy often elicits many positive emotions, it can also cause a woman to experience negative thoughts and feelings. During pregnancy, past family issues, insecurities, relationship difficulties, and financial issues can become real and immediate concerns. A woman who is expecting may find herself experiencing mood swings, fear, anxiety, forgetfulness, or body image issues. Women who experienced depression or anxiety before becoming pregnant may be more likely to experience mental health concerns during pregnancy. When mental health conditions do occur during pregnancy counseling can be an effective tool for decreasing symptoms during pregnancy as well as preparing for a healthy post partum period.

Approximately 15% of mothers develop Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety, or Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Unlike the “baby blues”, these feelings intensify with time and may not go away on their own. Post Partum Anxiety can be especially difficult to pinpoint in the year following birth.

Fathers can also struggle greatly with the transition to parenthood. Your symptoms may be similar to moms or manifest in different ways. It is important to address dad’s feelings and mental health at this big time of change as well. I have experience working with men on this issue and can be a safe place to open up about concerns.

 

Signs of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: 

Recurrent and regular crying spells

Frequent-irritability

Severe fatigue

Loss of appetite or dramatic weight gain

Recurrent angry outbursts

Not wanting to be with your baby

Loss of interest in pleasurable activities

Excessive worrying

Nightmares or flashbacks regarding traumatic childbirth or other previous trauma

Fears of harming yourself or the baby

Feelings of inadequacy as a mother

Feelings of overwhelm, hopelessness or despair

Obsessing about the baby despite reassurances from family, friends, and/or professionals

About scary or intrusive thoughts….

  • Intrusive or scary thoughts are negative, unwanted, repetitive thoughts, images and urges that 91% of mothers and 88% of fathers experience.
  • In 3-9% of new mothers, intrusive thoughts are a symptom of a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder and may cause extreme fear, anxiety and self-doubt.
  • Intrusive or scary thoughts are NOT a sign of psychosis. A mother or father’s distress about these thoughts is a good sign.
  • ALL women who report having intrusive thoughts should be referred to a mental health provider for proper assessment and treatment. This symptom is very treatable.

You are not to Blame

If you are having problems, you have probably asked yourself many times, “Why me?” The most important thing to remember is that this is not your fault. The causes of postpartum difficulties are varied and complex and include biological changes, psychological influences and relationship factors. In fact, it may be a combination of all three that is affecting you.

Seeking Support and Help

If it has been 2-4 weeks since you had your baby, and your problems are getting worse, you may want to seek additional help. I specialize in postpartum adjustment. My approach combines support, education and a mind/body approach to counseling. I often work with women and their partners in the recovery process because postpartum difficulties affect the whole family.

Contact Me

Call for a free consultation. For emergencies call 911 or visit your nearest hospital

(202) 919 9482

1234 Divi St. #1000, San Francisco, CA 95123

info@heathermcmillenlpc.com