POSTNATAL DEPRESSION COUNSELLING
The transition to motherhood is unfortunately a distressing time for many women. What is supposed to be a time of happiness and joy, can in fact be a difficult, lonely and miserable experience. Postnatal depression is estimated to affect approximately 17% of mothers, however I believe the incidence rate to be vastly higher. Through my postnatal depression counselling research and clinical experience, I know that talking about your difficult feelings can be enormously beneficial.
Sadly, many women suffer such symptoms in silence. Oftentimes it can be difficult for many women to talk about their postnatal feelings because those around them are excited about the new baby, and society at large (through media entertainment for example) insists that becoming a mother is a joyous and positive experience. Mothers are bombarded with positive messages about the bliss and joy of having a new baby, which not only provides a distorted image of mothering a baby, but also compound many women’s fears that their feelings are ‘wrong’ or that they are bad mothers for feeling this way.
In my experience, postnatal depression is rarely just about being a mother. This powerful experience in a woman’s life oftentimes triggers unresolved issues from the past or present which aren’t necessarily related to the baby or becoming a mother. For further information, please read my article Why do women get postnatal depression? (Therapy Today, Nov 2014)
Symptoms of postnatal depression include:
- tearfulness and persistent crying
- low mood, feeling down, overwhelmed by negative feelings
- anxiety, anger, feelings of loss
- fear, anxiety, traumatic feelings about the birth experience
- resistance or difficulty bonding with your baby
- triggering or re-experiencing of past issues or issues not directly related to motherhood
Counselling can help by:
- providing a neutral and safe place to talk about the difficulties and experience the full range of postnatal feelings
- situating the postnatal difficulties within the context of the woman’s life a whole (‘why might this be happening?’ ‘what is being triggered?’)
- working through traumatic or disappointing birth experiences
- processing and integrating the postnatal experience, finding meaning in the experience