Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety, Postpartum Rage & Postpartum Psychosis: A Conversation – Week 12
We’re BACK! 🙂 We took a two week hiatus for some time with our family to rest & re-charge before our busy Fall Family Portrait Season kicks into high gear! We visited our family’s farm in Western Kentucky, it was exactly what we needed! Check out this sweet photo that I shot of my little (Noah) one evening on the farm! 🙂
This week, we’ll be hearing from Meghan Coltrane who is a licensed professional counselor & is Perinatal Mental Health Certified! Meghan has a (beautiful) office in downtown Asheville, she is personable, competent, kind and compassionate! If you’re looking for a Perinatal Mental Health Counselor, she would be a fabulous choice!
The Postpartum Awareness Initiative features regular mothers from Asheville and its surrounding mountains. This blog features women from all different walks of life, all having experienced varying postpartum related symptoms. The purpose of this initiative is to HUMANIZE these experiences, to remove the judgement and shame that women are made to feel about their experiences as new mothers. The goal is to educate everyone on the fact that these things can happen to anyone and that the range of symptoms and severity for postpartum related issues is VAST and VARIED. The intention is to support the new mother who might not even understand what she’s thinking, feeling or experiencing as postpartum related. As a Family Photographer in Asheville (and an empath by nature) I want to normalize these things. I want to do what (I) can to help.
In past weeks, I’ve received very detailed, thoughtful, personal, vulnerable and encouraging stories! I hope you’ll go back & read the stories from previous weeks!
Throughout this series, I hope to feature more guest blog posts from Mental Health Professionals in our little mountain town & the state of North Carolina! At the end of each post, I’ll include contact information for local resources where you can get help right away should you need it!
If you would like to contribute a Guest Blog as a Mental Health Professional, Postpartum Doula or other Pregnancy/Postpartum expert , please email me directly at: Brittany@AshevilleFamilyPhotography.com
Perinatal Mental Health 101
By Meghan Coltrane, LPC, PMHC
Licensed Professional Counselor, Perinatal Mental Health Certified
When Postpartum Depression is mentioned, many people think of “baby blues” or horrific stories they have heard in the news. The truth is, there is so much gray area in between those two extremes. I will share with you some basic information about Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs). The term “perinatal” includes pregnancy and postpartum. Symptoms of a PMAD can surface any time during pregnancy or during the first 12 months post birth.
Some research says up to 80% of mothers experience what is known as the “baby blues.” This common experience usually only lasts for about two weeks after birth and symptoms include mood swings, weepiness, vulnerability, forgetfulness, and fatigue. Postpartum Depression, however, affects up to 1 in 7 moms, some research states it is closer to 1 in 5 moms. This is when the mother’s symptoms are getting in the way of her functioning and can include loss of appetite, hopelessness, difficulty sleeping even when baby is sleeping, deep sadness, low self-esteem, and sometimes suicidal thoughts. If you are having suicidal thoughts it is important to seek a trained professional to help you become healthier for you and your family.
There are more mental health experiences than Postpartum Depression. Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders also include Perinatal Anxiety, Perinatal OCD, Panic Disorder, Perinatal Bipolar, Perinatal PTSD, and rarely Perinatal Psychosis. A very common experience of moms suffering from a PMAD is having cary thoughts. Many moms have intrusive thoughts or images that are often perceived as disturbing and unwanted. Up to 80% of new parents have obsessive thoughts. These can range in intensity and frequency.
Are you worried you might develop a PMAD? Here are the risk factors: a previous history of a mental health diagnosis, family history of a mental health diagnosis, poor partner support, moving, illness, financial hardship, social isolation, and past trauma. Having a traumatic birth experience or having a baby in the NICU can also increase a mother’s chance of developing a PMAD. It is important to remember you did not cause this and you are not at fault.
The good news is, PMADs are treatable! Treatment options include counseling, natural treatments, psychiatric medication, and support groups. I recommend finding a counselor who has specialized training in Perinatal Mental Health. Postpartum.net has a directory of trained professionals, resources for support groups and online chat. There are many medications that have been researched to be safe during pregnancy and lactation. Often moms will worry about the baby being exposed to the medication, however you have to weigh the risks vs benefits; a baby being exposed to untreated mental illness can also have detrimental effects. If a PMAD goes untreated, the illness can escalate with each pregnancy, the symptoms can become chronic, and there is an increased risk of your baby developing psychiatric disturbances.
One of the most helpful things you can do during postpartum is to enlist as much support as possible. This can include having a meal train, hiring someone to clean the house, connect with other new moms, support groups, etc. Another tip I have learned from my clients, is adjust your expectations; try to be open and flexible when things don’t go as planned, such as your birth plan, life after baby comes, and breastfeeding. Another thing I want to leave you with, be gentle with yourself. This culture is tough on moms; there are so many judgements and high expectations. You are doing the best you can and you are doing a great job.
Meghan Coltrane, LPC, PMHC
34 Wall St. Suite 604 Asheville, NC
Looking for an updated list of Postpartum & Perinatal Counselors: Click Here
Postpartum Support International postpartum.net 24/7 support hotline 1-800-944-4773
If you are local to the WNC area, click here for a list of counselors, therapists, and prescribers who are trained in PMADs by Postpartum Support International.