Having a baby is supposed to be one of the most fulfilling experiences of a woman’s life, or so society and the media would often have us believe. However the truth is that one in ten women is depressed during pregnancy and one in thirty women are depressed during both pregnancy and after having given birth. Depression may also occur due to a pregnancy loss through either a termination or miscarriage. Most untreated episodes last from a few weeks to a few months but a third may last for up to a year. Between a third and a half of all depressions occurring after birth are continuations of episodes that started during or before pregnancy.
Despite the trend described above, many women still feel alone and ashamed of experiencing sadness and other challenging emotions during or after pregnancy. They may judge themselves negatively according to ideals of a how a ‘good mother’ should be, and as a result find it difficult to share their experience with others and reach out for support. This can lead to feeling lonely and despairing.
Perhaps there is a harsh contrast between the busy work and social life you once led and the current day-to-day routine which includes childcare and sleep deprivation. Perhaps you are single parenting or without family nearby, or with an unavailable or unsupportive partner.
Maybe your body changing and gaining weight during pregnancy has led to restricted movement and less energy, leaving you feeling depressed. You may be worrying about whether your partner is still attracted to you.
Having or preparing to have a child might bring up fears about the lifelong commitment you are making and whether you are ready for it. You might be reminded of your own childhood and inadequate mothering and thus feel challenging emotions such as anger, grief or fear.
It is very common to feel doubtful about your abilities as you enter a new life phase as a mother. Just how monumental this life change is can often go unrecognised leading to very intense emotions that are not sufficiently acknowledged or accepted. It is not unusual among new or expectant mothers to have intrusive thoughts and to feel resentful, fearful, angry or desiring to harm their baby. Consequently they experience shame, guilt and loathing towards themselves. A fear of judgment often stops women from sharing their experience even though these feelings are rarely acted on. The good news is that both pre and post-natal depression are entirely treatable and Psymplicity Healthcare practitioners are very comfortable working with these issues.
At Psymplicity Healthcare we offer an holistic approach to our treatment programmes. These comprise of:
Each client is considered on a unique basis. If there is a history of depression or the depressed feelings are very intense and disturbing, perhaps with suicidal thoughts, then an assessment by a consultant psychiatrist is appropriate to ensure that the correct treatment plan can be devised and the core of the issue addressed.
If the depression is less acute then depending on the energy, time and other resources of the individual, either Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or psychotherapy is recommended. A short series of CBT is suitable if you are looking for ways to manage your feelings better and you are not available for longer-term therapy.
Counselling may be suitable if you are considering becoming pregnant and would like to take pre-emptive steps to reduce the chances of becoming depressed. Perhaps you have a history of depression or your mother or sisters experienced pre or post-natal depression. With your counsellor you will discuss your fears and insecurities around motherhood, as well as your hopes. This might include exploring what you will need to give up in order to make space for being a parent, your relationship with your partner, and how to put in place enough support to single parent your child.
Psychotherapy is also very effective at getting to the heart of the issue. For this reason it is more helpful to have when your life is a little more settled. Perhaps you have experienced pre or post-natal depression and your baby is now a little older and you have more energy and time for yourself. In this case psychotherapy is highly recommended, especially if you are considering having another child in the future and want to prevent another depressive episode.
We invite you to call in on 0207 118 0407 and speak to a warm and non-judgemental therapist with years of experience working with pre and post-natal depression. The act of being listened to and feeling heard and seen is the first step in taking control of your situation and starting to feel better.