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8 Things Every Mother Should Know About Mental Health

Disponible en Español, aquí

As women, we share the tendency to put ourselves second (or third or even fourth!) on our priority lists. This tends to get even worse when we become mothers. Many of us have grown up with the desire to demonstrate to others how capable and strong we may be while facing challenges. For us, there’s always an emotional battle as we strive to not be seen as weak gals, acting under society’s expectations of giving up personal goals and private needs. And, if we behave differently, we’re viewed as cold-blooded, selfish, and even unfit mothers. 

Being a wife, mother, and professional is not an easy thing to handle, and finding the right balance to not lose our sanity, is harder than it may look. It’s for this reason that I invited Amanda Edwards: registered psychotherapist in the State of Colorado, from Mom of Ambition, to share her professional advice on the 8 things every mother should know about mental health.

  • Mental health is … 1 of 8
    mh1

    ... feeling safe, stable, and satisfied in who you are and where you are in life. When you are mentally healthy, your thoughts and patterns of behavior support your personal moral compass and life goals, no matter what they may be.

  • You should ask for help if … 2 of 8
    mh2

    ... your behavior or thoughts are interrupting your life, causing you or your loved ones pain, or involve an immediate threat of harm. There are varying degrees of severity, of course, but intervention is beneficial anytime your thought processes or behaviors are causing you to struggle in your everyday life.

  • In motherhood, mental health crisis symptoms are … 3 of 8
    mh3

    ... uncontrollable rage, legitimate desire to harm yourself or your children, debilitating sadness, inability to get out of bed, neglecting your children.

     

    There is a certain expected level of anxiety and sadness that comes immediately after having a baby. As hormones level-off and you become more accustomed to your new role, however, these feelings should dissipate and, while they may be replaced with exhaustion from lack of sleep, you should feel better overall. If that doesn't happen, or you're feeling worse, neglectful, or violent, it's time to seek help.

  • Do all women experience mental health challenges? 4 of 8
    mh4

    It is estimated that 80% of mothers experienced the "baby blues" following the birth of a child. Far fewer experience Postpartum Depression, so most mothers fall somewhere between healthy and depressed after having a child. Especially for first time mothers, the change in identity, priorities, and schedule can be incredibly stressful and cause discomfort, anxiety, and emotional turmoil.

     

    While PPD often requires the use of anti-depressants along with regular therapy by a trained professional, the women caught somewhere in the middle, not in imminent danger but not functioning optimally, are often overlooked and left to figure it out on their own.

  • To find support from your existing family and friends … talk, talk, talk! 5 of 8
    mh5

    Discuss your feelings, thoughts, concerns, and anxieties with friends, family, and loved ones. Give the people you trust the responsibility to care for you while you're caring for your child. Use caution with disclosure to an individual who tends to be judgmental or alarmist as you may find yourself feeling scrutinized and defensive which isn't healthy either.

  • How do I know if I have Postpartum Psychosis? 6 of 8
    mh7

    A woman should be worried about her mental health ... when your thoughts start interfering with your daily functioning, it's time to get help. Some anxiety around your duties as a mother are totally normal. It's when your thoughts or feelings stop you from doing what you love to do or need to do, or when your thoughts or feelings propel you into destructive behaviors, that you need to tell someone immediately and get help.

  • There are physical, mental, and behavioral components to the Postpartum Psychosis diagnosis. 7 of 8
    mh7

    Physically, you may seem manic and refuse to eat or sleep. Mental symptoms include memory loss and extreme confusion. Behavior becomes paranoid, erratic, and irrational. PPP requires immediate hospitalization and is not suitable for out-patient therapy initially.

  • How important is therapy, really? 8 of 8
    mh8

    Receiving counseling or therapeutic support can be an incredible asset for mothers. Beyond the obvious benefits of therapy, the mother has the opportunity to spend her session, however long it may be, to focus on herself and her own needs along with the support of someone she trusts to have her best interests at heart! She is provided with a safe space to express her fears and doubts about parenting, relationships, and the future, and receives support to feel better and make better decisions based on her own reality, preferences, and future dreams.

     

    Counseling is often stigmatized in our culture, so I try to explain therapy as taking some time to clean off your mirror. You'll have a better vision and understanding of yourself, your situation, and the people around you in order to move forward in life in a way that makes you truly happy and fulfilled.

Amanda recently launched her online counseling practice where she conducts Skype and email therapy for moms as well as writes a mental health support blog, where women can receive important information about mental health and effective tips on how to take better care of themselves. This is definitely a wonderful resource for us as women, and perhaps 2014 will be the year to embrace the importance of mental health. Maybe this year, we’ll view mental health support positively, enabling us to have happy and healthy lives and families, starting with our own selves.

Follow Eliana Tardio on Facebook, twitter and instagram. I blog in Spanish at www.elianatardio.com  

 

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