Let’s face it, becoming a parent isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. You’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and your life has changed in so many ways. You may struggle with this transition, but when you look around at other parents, it seems like everyone else is doing just fine.
Becoming a parent is a common experience, but can also be an extremely challenging one. While starting a family can bring joy to our lives, the transition to parenthood can be difficult if our new role as a parent does not line up with our idea of what it should or could have been.
If you are a man or woman who has been experiencing significant mood or behavioral changes since the birth of your child, it is possible that you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety.
Therapy for Postpartum Depression
Therapy for Postpartum Depression (PPD) will address the many symptoms of this disorder, along with aiming to increase the feelings of happiness and joy in your life. Symptoms of postpartum depression include depressed mood, a loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities, sleep or appetite changes, fatigue, problems concentrating, indecisiveness, feelings of being slowed down/feelings of restlessness, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, or suicide attempts.
Therapy for Postpartum Anxiety
Therapy for Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) will work to decrease feelings of anxiety and worry to bring you back to a calmer state where you can begin to enjoy parenting. Symptoms of postpartum anxiety can include excessive worry about many different things, difficulty controlling the worry, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, feelings of restlessness/being on edge, fatigue, irritability, and muscle tension. Individuals also may experience panic attacks which can occur out of the blue, and they may experience fear of additional panic attacks or they may change their behavior in response to the attacks.
Another postpartum anxiety disorder is Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (PPOCD). People with PPOCD are experiencing obsessions which are intrusive thoughts or images often related to their baby. They can often include thoughts or images about hurting the baby or hurting themselves. These individuals also experience compulsions which are behaviors that they engage in to reduce their obsessions. So if they are having obsessive thoughts or images about hurting their baby, their compulsive behavior may include never being left alone with the baby in order to keep themselves from hurting the child. It is extremely important to note that these parents are highly unlikely to act on these thoughts and images, and are terrified of doing so.
Male Postpartum Depression
If you have recently become a new father, you may be surprised that you seem to be experiencing what you've thought of as a "woman's disorder" -- postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. However, it is not as rare as you might think, as one in ten men experience postpartum depression or anxiety. Fathers of new children often feel incredible pressure to provide for their new child, and you may miss the relationship that you used to have with your child's mother. It is common to feel more irritable, stressed, and moody due to sleep deprivation and increased pressure at work and home. Keep reading down below for ways that therapy can help with this.
New Parents and COVID-19
Being a parent during the COVID-19 outbreak is extremely challenging. Not only are you trying to manage your own fears about what is happening, but you are trying to mange your children's fears and (if they are school aged) you are trying to help them complete all of their school work. All of this while you try to complete all of your work as well. It can be completely overwhelming. You also have been cut off from support that you had previously such as family, parent support groups, and play dates. You are carrying a lot right now, trying to manage family, work, and a household. Online therapy can help you figure out how to juggle it all, and can provide a space for you to have some time dedicated to just you. Schedule an appointment online or contact me now to see how I can help.
How Therapy Can Help
Therapy can be a place to figure out how to adjust to the transition to parenthood and how to cope with the pressures that come with this new role. It also provides you with a place to get support for what you are going through. I work with men and women who are struggling with this adjustment in a more mild form as well as men and women who are experiencing postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression that began after the birth of you child, please know that this is not uncommon. According to Postpartum Support International, one in seven women and one and ten men will experience postpartum depression or anxiety during their lifetimes.