I work with women on their biggest journey, motherhood. Often, we think of just Postpartum Depression, but there are several others disorders that effect women during pregnancy, through the birth, and beyond. I provide education and resources, along with a safe place for women to talk about their experiences. Helping women find peace with this new role is a key to our work. “The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new”-Rajneesh
Pregnancy and Postpartum Therapy
Throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum women can experience a variety of mood disorders. Listed below is information on each. If you or someone you love are experiencing these, contact me for a consultation and get the specialized help you need.
Approximately 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety. Sometimes they experience anxiety alone, and sometimes they experience it in addition to depression.
Typical symptoms of pregnancy or postpartum anxiety:
- Constant worry
- Feeling that something bad is going to happen
- Racing thoughts
- Disturbances of sleep and appetite
- Inability to sit still
- Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea
Approximately 15% of women experience significant depression during the first year after childbirth and approximately 10% percent of women experience depression during pregnancy. In fact, perinatal depression is the most common complication of childbirth.
Typical symptoms of pregnancy or postpartum depression:
- Feelings of anger or irritability
- Lack of interest in the baby
- Appetite and sleep disturbance
- Crying and sadness
- Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
- Loss of interest, joy or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
- Possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed of the perinatal disorders. It is estimated that as many as 3-5% of new mothers will experience these symptoms. The repetitive, intrusive images and thoughts are very frightening and can feel like they come out of nowhere. Research has shown that these images are anxious in nature, not delusional, and have very low risk of being acted upon.
Typical symptoms pregnancy or postpartum OCD:
- Obsessions, also called intrusive thoughts, which are persistent, repetitive thoughts or mental images related to the baby. These thoughts are very upsetting and not something the woman has ever experienced before.
- Compulsions, where the mom may do certain things over and over again to reduce her fears and obsessions. This may include things like needing to clean constantly, check things many times, count or reorder things.
- A sense of horror about the obsessions
- Fear of being left alone with the infant
- Hypervigilance in protecting the infant
- Moms with postpartum OCD know that their thoughts are bizarre and are very unlikely to ever act on them.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Approximately 9% of women experience postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childbirth. Most often, this illness is caused by a real or perceived trauma during delivery or postpartum. These traumas could include:
Unplanned C-section, Baby going to NICU, Feelings of powerlessness, poor communication and/or lack of support and reassurance during the delivery. Women who have experienced a previous trauma, such as rape or sexual abuse, are also at a higher risk for experiencing postpartum PTSD. Women who have experienced a severe physical complication or injury related to pregnancy or childbirth can also experience PTSD.
Typical symptoms of pregnancy or postpartum PTSD:
- Intrusive re-experiencing of a past traumatic event, including childbirth itself
- Flashbacks or nightmares
- Avoidance of stimuli associated with the event, including thoughts, feelings, people, places and details of the event
- Persistent increased arousal (irritability, difficulty sleeping, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response)
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Feeling a sense of unreality and detachment
Bipolar Mood Disorders (Bipolar I and II)
There are two phases of a bipolar mood disorder: the lows and the highs. The low time is clinically called depression, and the high is called mania or hypomania. Many women are diagnosed for the first time with bipolar depression or mania during pregnancy or postpartum. In Bipolar 2, the manic episode is less apparent; the highs and lows are not as extreme, and sometimes it is more apparent to friends and families than to the individual going through the phases.
The criteria for a diagnosis of a bipolar mood disorder is that the symptoms last longer than four days and interfere with functioning and relationships. Sometimes the ups and downs seem to happen at almost the same time; this confusing state is called a mixed episode. Sometimes, a person with severe episodes of mania or depression has psychotic symptoms too, such as hallucinations or delusions. These symptoms present a high risk and must be treated immediately.
Pregnancy or Postpartum Bipolar symptoms can include:
- Periods of severely depressed mood, irritability, and anxiety
- Periods where mood much better than normal
- Rapid speech
- Little need for sleep
- Racing thoughts, trouble concentrating
- Continuous high energy
- Delusions (often grandiose, but including paranoid)
- Impulsiveness, poor judgment, distractibility
- Grandiose thoughts, inflated sense of self-importance
- In the most severe cases, delusions, hallucinations, and psychosis
Psychosis a rare illness when compared to the rates of postpartum depression or anxiety. It occurs in approximately .1 -.2% of births. The onset is usually sudden, most often within the first 2 weeks postpartum. Of the women who develop a postpartum psychosis, research has suggested that there is approximately a 5% suicide rate and a 4% infanticide rate associated with the illness. This is because the woman experiencing psychosis is experiencing a break from reality. In her psychotic state, the delusions and beliefs make sense to her; they feel very real to her and are often religious. Immediate treatment for a woman going through psychosis is imperative. Postpartum psychosis is temporary and treatable with professional help, but it is an emergency and it is essential that you receive immediate help.
Typical symptoms can include:
- Delusions or strange beliefs
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
- Feeling very irritated
- Decreased need for or inability to sleep
- Paranoia and suspiciousness
- Rapid mood swings
- Difficulty communicating at times
I offer appointments at a variety of times including nights and weekends to accommodate busy schedules. I am located in historical downtown Huntersville, with easy access to 77, 85, and 485. Contact me for a consultation and let’s begin the work together.
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Pregnancy and Postpartum Therapist in Huntersville
Women’s Wellness of the Carolinas provides therapy for new moms from Huntersville near Charlotte, NC. We also serve Cornelius, Davidson and the surrounding North Charlotte area