Thursday, September 9, 2010

Many of us have experienced the joy of the birth of a child--be it a mother or father.  It is an exciting occasion but it can be a difficult time for the mother.  Everyone keeps telling her that this is the happiest time of her life yet internally she realizes that something is very wrong.  And because everyone tells her this she feels guilty and inadequate when the "joy" is escaping her.  Sometimes it can be so severe that she loses interest in caring for her baby, may fear she may harm her baby, or becomes over anxious or hypervigilant around the baby. 

So, what is "this"?  It may be postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety.  These feelings may occur immediately--sometimes even start during pregnancy--or it may be months after the birth when she recognizes that it is not as it should be.  Her spouse may recognize that she has changed and is troubled by her behaviors.

So, what should we do?

First, you should know that there are different levels of postpartum depression--from "baby blues" that normally resolve themselves to serious psychotic episodes.  Most importantly, the mother can see a therapist that will confidentially talk with her about how she is and has been feeling.  The therapist will do an evaluation of her situation and then help her to make the decision that works best for her to get her to becoming the happy, healthy mother that she wants to be.

Please don't suffer in silence!  In the words of Adlai Stevenson, "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional".

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