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Anxiety and Depression in Pregnancy
ARE YOU PREGNANT, FEARFUL, AND ANXIOUS?
Do you have thoughts of failing as a mother? Have you ever had intrusive thoughts that make you feel guilty or ashamed? Have you suffered a miscarriage in your recent or not-so-recent past and now have a persistent fear about how your pregnancy will turn out?
Maybe the idea of childbirth frightens you. Perhaps you even feel shame for feeling sadness, rather than joy, about your pregnancy, and even if you do feel happy, maybe you’re still anxious about what the future holds. ‘Will I be a good parent,’ you might think.
You may be familiar with postpartum depression, which a woman can experience after having a child. However, are you aware of the fact that you can also experience depression and anxiety during pregnancy? For example, between 2000 and 2015, the number of women diagnosed with depression at delivery increased by seven times.
Symptoms include feeling lethargic, a loss of sleep, and a lack of appetite, or you might overeat, feel irritated or worthless, or have trouble concentrating. Stress also can exacerbate depression symptoms, and panic attacks, difficulty relaxing, and intrusive thoughts may grip you, too.
Experiencing depression and anxiety during pregnancy can have harmful effects. Depression can prevent you from taking adequate care of yourself while pregnant. In addition, depression and anxiety can interfere with being able to bond with a new child.
Experiencing varying emotions may be par for the course while pregnant, but depression and anxiety are two emotions that can be difficult to work through. With the help of a maternal health therapist, you can manage anxiety during pregnancy to focus more easily on the positive change having a baby can bring to your life.
MANY WOMEN SUFFER FROM DEPRESSION OR ANXIETY DURING PREGNANCY
Studies show that up to 20 percent of women experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy.2 Yet with the societal focus on pregnancy being commonly associated with joy, it can feel like you live in the dark when that joy eludes you—as if society has turned out the lights on your complex array of emotions.
Yet, the mental health movement is growing, and more doctors are becoming aware of the complicated nature of pregnancy. As a result, we are gaining a better understanding of the realities of depression and anxiety for many expectant mothers.
We are the women who may say “thank you” when someone says “congratulations,” but carry specks of worry in our eyes. We may only express the joy of being pregnant because we should not complain (there are so many who would love to be in our shoes, after all). We are the ones who hesitate to admit how we really feel for fear of being judged.
We may also be afraid to go to the hospital during the pandemic, unsure of what maternal health looks like now. In addition, we are the ones who look at our reflection in the mirror and find the courage to acknowledge when being “with child” does indeed cause us to feel anxious and depressed.
No matter where we sit on the spectrum, many of us suffer from anxiety or depression while pregnant.
Though, in this time period with growing awareness, you’re not alone. Self-help books might be helpful in the short-term, but working with a professional trained to support maternal mental health will give you the long-term skills parenthood needs to succeed.
If you can find the strength to give definition to the persistent sadness and worry you may feel during pregnancy, you have taken the first step to overcome your anxiety. Support from a maternal health therapist can help you face these challenges and find calm in your journey to motherhood.
DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY THERAPY CAN HELP YOU FIND PEACE AND CONTENTMENT IN YOUR PREGNANCY
Many people think that anxiety and depression during pregnancy can be wished away with positive thinking. However, the reality is that anxiety and depression are both medical disorders that require the help of a trained professional to overcome. In my work, I have come to recognize the benefits of therapy in helping women to acknowledge the conflicting sentiments connected to prenatal depression and anxiety--therapy can help to develop a plan to build a healthier mindset.
Pregnancy can be difficult to unpack. Yet, in my office, you will find a compassionate space to lay down your worries and be heard. In session, you will learn to face your challenges from a place of strength and gain more control over your response—feelings, thoughts, and actions—to pregnancy and its difficulties. You will also learn to identify the root cause of your symptoms for depression and anxiety and healthy ways to manage these symptoms. Additionally, our sessions together will help you find ways to encourage more support for your challenges from your partner.
I utilize a number of science-backed modalities for treatment, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). CBT will help you to identify negative thought patterns and then actively replace those thoughts with more positive behaviors. ACT can help you sit with your present thoughts and/or feelings without judgment or avoidance. These techniques can help bring calm to a period of intense change and focus to your maternal mental health.
I will work with you to develop a solution-oriented plan to address your pregnancy anxiety that fits your unique story. Before the first session, I will request that you fill out some paperwork online. After that, we will also have a 50-minute intake session, where we review the information you provided to make adjustments and identify your goals.
As a therapist with more than 10 years of experience, I have helped many women work through sensitive maternal health challenges. With the right guidance and your willingness to listen to your body, you can live more fully in the moment and find joy in what can be a wonderful and positive life milestone.
BUT YOU MAY STILL HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT PREGNANCY ANXIETY THERAPY...
I have so many appointments already—there is no way I can fit in therapy, too.
Yes, pregnancy means that you are constantly staying on top of your maternal health, making sure that your body stays on track as it prepares to bring a beautiful, new life into the world. But don’t forget that your mental health is also part of the equation. If you do not have the time because of an already full schedule, I invite you to consider telehealth. Without the added time of parking and travel, you may be able to fit in just one more important appointment.
I don’t think I need therapy because these feelings will pass on their own.
In some cases, the emotional highs and lows can subside on their own. However, maternal mental health during pregnancy is increasingly becoming a more researched topic, and studies show if you focus on your mental health now, you can also reduce your chances for other pregnancy-related challenges like postpartum depression. Treatment with a trained professional gives you the opportunity to feel better sooner. You can also take the skills you acquire in session and use them for future challenges in your life.
I don’t have a budget for therapy.
I do accept United, Cigna, and Aetna insurance plans. If you have another provider, please check to see to what extent they may cover out-of-network therapy. For those not covered by insurance, or without it, I also accept self-pay. Maternal mental health is one aspect of pregnancy that is easy to ignore but that is so crucial to the foundation-building of a mother or parent partner. Making an investment to care for your mental health can benefit everyone in your home.
Are You Ready To Overcome Pregnancy Anxiety and Depression?
If you are ready to give your maternal mental health the care that it needs to thrive in pregnancy and as a parent, I invite you to call and schedule a free, 15-minute phone consultation. Let me help you own your story and grow beyond pregnancy-related anxiety and depression.
More About Sarah Courech, LMHC PMH-C
Sarah is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Perinatal Mental
Health Professional and Owner of Moms in Mind Perinatal Counseling. She has expertise in treating mood and anxiety disorders during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Sarah helps new mothers cope with the transition to motherhood and successfully work through challenges that may arise during the early years. As a maternal mental health advocate and mother herself, Sarah understands the specific challenges women may experience during this life stage. Sarah proudly serves on the Board of The Tough Tough Fund, is a member of Central Florida Postpartum Alliance, Postpartum Support International, and the Mental Health Association of Central Florida
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