“Just take a walk and get out of the house!” Why Women Suffering from Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders Don't Get Professional Treatment & Care

“Just take a walk and get out of the house!” Why Women Suffering from Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders Don't Get Professional Treatment & Care

Sara was in her late 30’s when she became pregnant and she and her husband were ecstatic. However, her pregnancy included both physical and mental health concerns that increased with each trimester. Her physical discomfort included pain in her hips, difficulty walking and sleepless nights. She became increasingly paranoid and started to think of her baby as “an alien” growing inside of her. After giving birth her paranoia and delusions increased. Sara saw no less than five medical professionals, none of who were able or willing to properly diagnose or refer her for treatment. Sara had developed postpartum psychosis. Luckily, peripartum psychosis is rare, only impacting 0.1%-0.2% of women. What is not rare is Sara’s experience finding appropriate mental health treatment. Many women suffering from perinatal mood disorders don’t seek professional help. Treatment for perinatal mood disorders can significantly decrease stress and reduce symptomology. So why aren’t women in treatment? 

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Mighty Mama: Sammi Verhey and her take on the Adventures of Parenting

Mighty Mama: Sammi Verhey and her take on the Adventures of Parenting

Meet Mighty Mama Sammi Verhey and her 1-year-old daughter, Winnie. Sammi balances the adventures of parenting with a combination of humor, love and respect. Sammi discusses both the joyful and challenging moments that accompany parenting. “Sense of humor is so important for my sanity… so much of parenting is beyond your immediate control that laughing through the low points when you’re covered in spit up, or deliriously tired, or stretched too thin reminds you that the tough moments are fleeting.” Sammi is a role model for new moms out there as she remembers what bonding was like with a new infant, “It was a slow progression until we got to know each other. And once we did, it was incredible and so meaningful.” Sammi also talks about how she fosters her daughter’s independence (while supervised, of course), contagious energy and imagination! Read more on the blog about Sammi’s adventures in parenting with daughter, Winnie.

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This Couldn’t Happen to Us and Other Lies New Parents Tell Themselves: A Three-Part Guide to Making Sure Your Relationship Survives a New Baby (Part III)

This Couldn’t Happen to Us and Other Lies New Parents Tell Themselves: A Three-Part Guide to Making Sure Your Relationship Survives a New Baby (Part III)

It is difficult to convince a postpartum woman to go to therapy. Whether or not she is depressed, a new mom is exhausted, overwhelmed and preoccupied with her new baby. Understandably, early motherhood is not the best time to introduce a therapeutic-relationship or impose a healing process that is time-intensive and costly. However, if her symptoms become worse after the baby is born, if she is experiencing intrusive or distorted thoughts, or if she is suffering enough, then she needs help and there may be no choice, but to get help right away. But how do you encourage her to engage in therapy?

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This Couldn’t Happen to Us and Other Lies New Parents Tell Themselves: A Three-Part Guide to Making Sure Your Relationship Survives a New Baby (Part II)

This Couldn’t Happen to Us and Other Lies New Parents Tell Themselves: A Three-Part Guide to Making Sure Your Relationship Survives a New Baby (Part II)

When Beth imagined motherhood, she pictured her and her husband John, lying in their bed on a Saturday morning. She imagined their little baby perfectly content lying between them. Beth and John would lovingly look at each other, and think how lucky they were to have this beautiful baby and perfect family.

What Beth did not imagine is being up at 3:00 AM with a colicky, screaming baby, feeling alone, depressed, and resentful as her husband is sound asleep in the next room. Beth is filled with feelings of guilt and worthlessness as she thinks to herself: ‘this is not the life I pictured. I must be a terrible mother. My family would be better off without me.’

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This Couldn’t Happen to Us and Other Lies New Parents Tell Themselves: A Three-Part Guide to Making Sure Your Relationship Survives a New Baby (Part I)

This Couldn’t Happen to Us and Other Lies New Parents Tell Themselves: A Three-Part Guide to Making Sure Your Relationship Survives a New Baby (Part I)

You have read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, you have tracked the size of your baby (by fruit) week-after-week, your registry has been reviewed and approved by all of your mom-friends, parenthood—you’ve got this!

The expectations and reality of having a newborn baby are often very different. If you or your partner is suffering from depression or anxiety after the birth of a baby, the postpartum period can have a devastating impact on your marriage and family. Even in the best of circumstances, with substantial support and resources, having a baby can be a challenge, an adjustment, and a strain on your relationship.

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Guest Blog: Therapy Beyond the Baby Blues by Simon Johnson

Guest Blog: Therapy Beyond the Baby Blues by Simon Johnson

Jamie Kreiter is a Chicago-based therapist who treats clients with postpartum depression and anxiety issues around fertility, pregnancy and parenthood. She is partnered with Better and recommends our services to her clients and we wanted to learn more about her practice and how she uses Better to give her clients more access to treatment.

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Mighty Mama: Chelsea Sahai Shares Her Views on Work-Life Balance and How to Be a Mighty Mama

Mighty Mama: Chelsea Sahai Shares Her Views on Work-Life Balance and How to Be a Mighty Mama

Chelsea Sahai is an immigration attorney for a non-profit serving low-income New Yorkers. She is also mom to toddler, Niam. Chelsea talks about balancing work and motherhood, “Balance is really important to me, and something you have to look at in the big picture… Sometimes, a pay cut is worth the freedom from guilt for not being in the office 12-hours a day.” She shares the importance of setting boundaries, asking for help and engaging her young son in her work. Chelsea shares advice about how she conquers motherhood with a toddler, “I try to focus on our relationship to one another, celebrating him as an individual, giving him space to (safely) explore, and nurturing his own identity.” Read more of Chelsea’s powerful story!

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It Gets Better: Accepting Help as a New Mom

It Gets Better: Accepting Help as a New Mom

Most mothers caring for infants have more things to do than hours in a day. Mothers spend almost all of their time and energy taking care of their new baby, leaving little time for chores and other things like washing clothes, grocery shopping, preparing meals, entertaining visitors, writing thank you notes, packing lunches, cleaning the house. 

In the best of circumstances, with support and resources, having a new baby can be a challenge and an adjustment. In circumstances where a mother is experiencing depression or anxiety after childbirth, having a baby can range from a significant stressor to a crisis. There is no right or wrong way to transition into motherhood, but there is always a transition. Try to let go of perfectionist tendencies and know that you are doing the best you can, and that is just fine! Here are 9 things you can try to make your life easier.

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Mothering a Mother: 11 Tips to Take Care of a New Mom

Mothering a Mother: 11 Tips to Take Care of a New Mom

Having a baby is an overwhelming, emotional experience. The realization that this tiny and fragile being is completely dependent on you—paired with the physical exhaustion and recovery of delivery, rapid hormonal changes, and sleep deprivation—can be a challenge for any new mother. In recognition of these challenges, many cultures have adapted traditions and rituals for a mother to rest and recuperate and focus solely on bonding with her new baby.

In our culture, we perpetuate the notion that women should experience a smooth and euphoric transition into motherhood. However, practices in the United States do very little to promote this. Hospital stays usually vary from 2-3 days. New mothers are not encouraged to rest or take a hiatus from household responsibilities. In fact, most are expected to resume normal activities as soon as possible, neglecting the seriousness of a woman’s physical and emotional condition after birth. A new baby brings a lot of excitement and happiness to a home, but can also bring a lot of exhaustion. How can we better take care of our mothers?

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Mighty Mama: Stacey Porter from 2020 Mom

Mighty Mama: Stacey Porter from 2020 Mom

Stacey Porter is this Monday’s #MightyMama. She is the Ambassador Program Lead and Training Manager for 2020 Mom, a national non-profit organization that seeks to close gaps in maternal mental health care. Stacey’s strength is to provide compassion and empathy that is sometimes missing from our society. Stacey inspires others in both her professional and personal life. Stacey experienced the loss of her 25-week-old daughter, Delilah. Talking to other mothers who had experienced trauma and loss helped Stacey to heal and find strength. Stacey tries not to hold herself to the impossible perfect standards that the media sets up for mothers, which helps her keep the balance. She has two happy and healthy children, which also keep her going. Stacey’s message to other moms is to feel free to be themselves, to laugh at #epicfails, to stop striving for perfection and to give yourself a little break sometimes. For moms who are suffering from a loss of any kind, whether it’s the loss of a child or the loss of yourself, Stacey reminds you that there is a way back.

Keep reading for Stacey's full interview. 

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The Social Media Mom: Why Social Media Impacts The Way We Feel

The Social Media Mom: Why Social Media Impacts The Way We Feel

Beth is a new mom, and she is exhausted. She hasn’t showered in several days. And even though it is well into the morning, Beth hasn’t brushed her teeth yet. Between breastfeeding on a tight schedule—as prescribed by her pediatrician—and worrying about her daughter gaining weight, Beth has had no time for herself. But today, her daughter is one-month-old!

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Three Reasons Why Working Mothers Feel Guilty and How to Deal with It

Three Reasons Why Working Mothers Feel Guilty and How to Deal with It

Mothers can feel guilty about all kinds of things—things within their control and things outside of their control. Guilt can be a common symptom of the postpartum period. Mothers often strive to meet unrealistic expectations of parenting. When they don’t reach these unattainable goals, intense feelings of guilt arise. In this post, I will explore some of the reasons why mothers feel guilty, specifically when returning to work. 

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Why Mother's Day Isn't a Happy Day for Every Mother

Why Mother's Day Isn't a Happy Day for Every Mother

Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the mothers in your life. And if you are a mother, it can be a wonderful time to celebrate yourself. But Mother’s Day can also be a complicated holiday for many women, especially a new mom who may be suffering.

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Dear Provider: What Your Health Care Provider Should Always Ask

Dear Provider: What Your Health Care Provider Should Always Ask

Dear Provider,  

Maternal suicide is the leading cause of death during pregnancy and within the first year after birth. About 1 in 7 women screen positive for depression during pregnancy and within the first postpartum year. Treatment of maternal depression and stress has shown to be very effective in both decreasing symptoms and improving functioning among children and families. However, many women with perinatal depression or anxiety are under-diagnosed and go untreated.

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Tell Me What's Going Well: Changing Negativity

Tell Me What's Going Well: Changing Negativity

Catherine came to see me when her son was four-months old. She was suffering from postpartum anxiety. She tearfully told me how everything was going wrong. She described feelings of guilt (“I am letting my husband and baby down”), feelings of helplessness (“I just can’t do this) and physical and psychological stress (“I’m breaking out into hives”).  I asked her to tell me what was going well. She looked at me surprisingly as she wiped away her tears. It was as if she had never thought about this.

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Why New Moms Don't Want to Engage in Therapy

Why New Moms Don't Want to Engage in Therapy

Pregnancy and parenting is a happy time in your life. But what if it is not? Along with the joy that accompanies pregnancy and the birth of a new baby, there are also stressful experiences that generate anxiety and pervasive feelings of sadness, incompetence and loneliness. One in seven women suffer from Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, a group of symptoms that occur during pregnant and in the postpartum period, interfering with a mother’s emotional wellness and overall functioning. Therapy can be very effective at reducing these symptoms, but most new mothers are not interested in therapy. Here are some reasons why mothers are ambivalent about starting therapy.

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Shedding Light on Sexual Assault & Healing through the #MeToo Movement

Shedding Light on Sexual Assault & Healing through the #MeToo Movement

News reports and social media have broadcast a growing list of celebrities, politicians, executives, reporters and athletes who have been accused of sexual assault. As consumers of the news, you have the luxury of putting down what you are reading or turning off the TV. Those of you not directly involved, you may feel like a bystander looking in. But for others of you who have been impacted by sexual abuse and/or harassment, the media may have a profound impact on your personal trauma and healing. 

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Acknowledging Breast Cancer Month & The Power of Self-Awareness

Acknowledging Breast Cancer Month & The Power of Self-Awareness

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Founded in 1985, the conception of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was to promote mammography and early dedication in women. Now over 30 years later, October is the month where we paint the town pink. From the popularized pink breast cancer ribbon to NFL players sporting pink cleats, it is hard not to be aware that the month marks Breast Cancer Awareness. But is awareness enough to make an individual impact? Can we be simultaneously aware and disillusioned? Are we culturally aware, but not self-aware? What role do you play in early detection and fighting for a cure?  

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To Say or Not to Say: Exploring Therapist Self-Disclosure

To Say or Not to Say: Exploring Therapist Self-Disclosure

I recently had a client tell me how much she liked me as a therapist, but also as a person. She acknowledged that she knew very little about me personally to make this acclamation. The limited disclosure of the therapist is true of most therapeutic interactions. While the client shares many personal and private details from their lives, the therapist usually discloses very little. This got me thinking about the role of therapist self-disclosure in therapy.

Self-disclosure is the revelation of personal information about the therapist during session. The clinical use of therapist self-disclosure is a highly debated topic. Some therapists air on the side of caution and take an objective stance in the room by not disclosing any personal information. Unlike, disclosure, the use of non-disclosure is not typically questioned or justified. But can self-disclosure always be avoided? What qualifies as therapist self-disclosure? Is self-disclosure a mistake or an inevitable part of all interpersonal relationships?

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