Postpartum Depression Sucks.
Postpartum Anxiety? Same.
You’re a new mom, finding your way through sleep deprivation, keeping a tiny human alive and trying to figure out who you are now as a mother, partner and a human. Then one day you wake up in the darkness, you’ve lost all sense of direction and it feels like the world is closing in on you. Somehow you’ve lost the thread of who you were before becoming ‘mom;’ you can’t find the path back to yourself and so you sit, aching, paralyzed…worried this is your new ‘normal’.
Mama I’m here to tell you ‘it’s not’.
The darkness will lift, the new path illuminates and day by day you find a rhythm to your days and nights. Finding support in this vulnerable time, as you rewire your heart, mind, body and spirit, is critical.
Wondering if you are experiencing postpartum depression (PPD) or postpartum anxiety (PPA)? Below is a list of symptoms most mamas will experience now and again at some point along the journey. To fall into the category of PPD or PPA, what we’re looking for is a configuration of symptoms that are causing you to suffer, so much so that you feel disconnected from your self, your baby, and/or your life much of the time.
These symptoms can include:
- feeling angry and irritable
- crying and sadness
- lack of interest in your baby
- feeling guilt, shame, hopeless
- loss of interest in things that previously brought you joy
- self harming thoughts (self or baby)
- constant worry
- fearing something bad will happen
- racing thoughts
- inability to stay or fall asleep
- dizziness, hot flashes
Some risk factors for experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, include:
- sleep deprivation
- a history of, or predisposition to depression and anxiety
- stress during pregnancy and labor/birth
- a tendency towards perfectionism
- inadequate postpartum support
- poor nutrition
- interpersonal stress
- sensitivity to hormonal changes
If you are suffering, right now is the best time to get support.
For some women the world rights itself after a while…a few weeks or months perhaps. As a psychotherapist specializing in Maternal Mental Health, all too often what I see in my counseling practice is the mama who has waited 3, 6, 9 months or longer and finally in an act of desperation reaches out for help. I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to wait to feel better.
If you are overwhelmed and struggling to find balance in your new role as Mom, right now is the time to reach out for support.
You are not alone in your overwhelm.
You are not alone with your scary thoughts.
You are not alone with the tsunami of fears racing through your heart and mind.
Let yourself be supported. Therapy absolutely does help! Research shows us that ‘…Psychotherapy is the best validated treatment for postpartum depression and should be considered first-line treatment, especially for depressed breastfeeding women’ [you can read the full article and research here].
What does this mean? It means coming in for therapy when you are struggling as a new mama will help you. You also don’t need to have a diagnosis of PPD or PPA to seek help or feel better. Psychotherapy is proven to help and should be considered as the first step in your wellness journey.
As a therapist who works with mamas and being a mom myself, I know the hardest part of starting a new routine and prioritizing your self care is taking the first step. Most of the moms I work with start to find more peace, ease and calm after 10-12 weeks together.
The goal of postpartum therapy isn’t to dive into all your triggers, childhood programming and relationship patterns (sure this is all helpful stuff but can be examined and integrated later in life when you have more capacity). The purpose of therapy for mamas struggling with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety is to get your head above water as fast as we can, navigate you to shore and arm you with practices to keep you grounded and functioning as you heal and move through this totally normal phase of learning how to become a mother.
I know you’ve heard the saying that kids don’t come with instruction manuals. You know what? Neither does motherhood. We each find our own way and I can assure you that no one does it alone.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety most often show up in pregnancy and throughout the first year of motherhood. It’s a tragic myth that the postpartum period is only the 6 weeks after having your baby. There is no magic number for when it gets ‘easier’. The impact of such a life altering event will forever alter the fabric of your being. When we look at it this way, the postpartum season lasts forever.
The postpartum period is rough for all new moms. The highs and lows are expected, though all too often not openly discussed in our society. This is part of why new moms struggle. You think you are alone in the chaos, that something is wrong, that it should be easier. Becoming a mother is an adjustment on every level of your being. It will take some time to figure it all out. You don’t have to figure it out alone.
One day at a time mama. You got this.
I truly look forward to connecting with you.
-Kim Burris, MFT
Kim is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who specializes in holistic wellness for moms. She is passionate about supporting mamas through the journey of motherhood from pregnancy through postpartum. After becoming a mother herself and facing a lack of mental health awareness and supportive resources for moms, she began her journey as a maternal mental health advocate. Kim currently offers holistic psychotherapy in person and online to individuals residing in California. Contact her for your complimentary 15-minute consultation.
You can also make an appointment online:
If you are outside of California and looking for support you can find a local provider in your area by visiting:
Postpartum International Directory:
Psychology Today and search for therapists specializing in ‘Pregnancy, Prenatal, Postpartum’: