Postpartum disorders, including depression and anxiety, are significant medical conditions affecting about 10–15% of new mothers each year. These disorders manifest as persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, and fatigue following childbirth, profoundly impacting the mental health of many women. The high prevalence of these conditions underscores the urgent need for effective and timely interventions to support new mothers.
Online postpartum therapy offers a practical and private solution for new parents looking for mental health support. This therapy mode combines convenience and confidentiality, making it an appealing choice for those adjusting to motherhood.
This article will give a detailed overview of postpartum disorders, explain how online postpartum therapy functions, and provide tips on how to benefit from it.
Table of Contents
What Are Potential Postpartum Disorders?
Postpartum mental health issues can be categorized into three types. It’s crucial to recognize the differences between these, as failing to do so can have negative consequences:
This is one of the most severe stages of postpartum depression and includes having thoughts of suicide or harming your baby. This is a rare but serious mental health condition that demands immediate medical intervention. The risk of suicide notably increases for at least a year following childbirth.
Postpartum Depression (PPD)
PPD can occur a few days to several months after childbirth. It often interferes with your daily activities and responsibilities. If you find your ability to function is compromised, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare provider, or primary care doctor. They can assess your symptoms of depression and develop a suitable treatment plan.
After delivery, mothers might experience rapid mood changes, like shifting from feeling extremely happy to very sad. Unexplained crying, along with feelings of impatience, anxiety, and loneliness are common.
These ‘baby blues’ can last from just a few hours to up to 1 to 2 weeks. Typically, medical treatment for this isn’t necessary. Often, joining a support group for new mothers or conversing with other moms can be helpful.
Common Causes of Postpartum Disorders
Postpartum disorders are not caused by a single issue; a variety of factors can influence their severity.
- Influence of Genetics: According to a study, having a family history of postpartum depression, especially in severe cases, can increase your risk of experiencing it.
- Emotional issues: Sleep deprivation and the overwhelming nature of newborn care can make it difficult to manage even small problems. Anxiety about your ability to care for a newborn, feeling low, identity struggles, or a sense of lost control can all contribute to postpartum disorders.
- Bodily changes: Post childbirth, a significant drop in hormones like estrogen and progesterone, along with a decrease in thyroid hormones, can contribute to postpartum depression. These hormonal changes can lead to feelings of exhaustion, and depression.
What Are The Treatment Options for Postpartum Disorders?
A study indicates that therapy for postpartum depression is showing promising outcomes.
Treating postpartum disorders generally involves a mix of different therapies and support, including:
This is a short-term approach, usually lasting 12-16 weeks, with the primary aim of relieving symptoms. IPT therapists are direct and proactive, helping new parents understand the root causes of their distress.
A key component of IPT involves teaching communication skills that foster stronger relationships, enhanced social support, and greater self-confidence. This therapy follows a structured, manual-based treatment plan.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This method aims to help mothers gain control over their thoughts to enable change. A CBT therapist focuses on identifying and acknowledging automatic thoughts, assessing their helpfulness, and learning to manage unhelpful ones.
Techniques used in CBT include:
- Homework assignments
- Exposure therapy
- Relaxation exercises
- Mental imagery
- Thought stopping
Group therapy is conducted by one or more trained psychotherapists and utilizes the dynamics within the group to identify issues and interpersonal conflicts. The primary goal of a support group is to foster a sense of community, and provide a space for parents to be heard and understood. It also serves as a platform to discuss and exchange ideas on stress management, coping mechanisms, and early motherhood experiences.
Recognizing Symptoms of Postpartum Disorders
Be vigilant for early warning signs of postpartum disorders and promptly discuss them with your doctor or counselor. Seeking online postpartum therapy on time can ease your return to feeling like yourself. Common symptoms to watch for include:
- Excessive Guilt: It’s natural to feel upset occasionally. However, frequent crying spells, persistent unhappiness about parenthood, or constant self-criticism as a mother can be early indicators of postpartum depression.
- Inability to Connect with Your Newborn: Some mothers struggle with instant bonding with their baby which is normal. However, if you’re disinterested in forming a bond or feel no emotional attachment to your baby even weeks later, consult your doctor. Additionally, if you have thoughts or visions of harming your baby, seek immediate medical advice.
- Prolonged Baby Blues: Most new mothers experience baby blues, but if they persist beyond the first two weeks, it might be a concern. Feeling sad or hopeless after two weeks, or experiencing worsening symptoms during this period, warrants a doctor’s visit.
- Distorted Sleep Patterns: Disturbed sleep after childbirth is normal, but if you are unable to rest even when your baby sleeps, or if you find yourself sleeping excessively, this could be a sign of a deeper issue beyond just new sleep patterns.
How To Cope With Postpartum Disorders
While the most effective way to diagnose and treat postpartum disorders is by consulting your doctor, there are also things you can do at home to help cope with everyday life.
- Acknowledge your achievements: Celebrate your small accomplishments, even if it is completing one task in a day. On some days, you might not manage to do anything, and that’s okay. Avoid being harsh on yourself during these times.
- Don’t stay alone: Reach out to those who can assist with childcare, household tasks, and daily chores. Having this support network will free up some time for you to rest. It’s also important to stay connected with others to prevent isolation and reduce the risk of depressive episodes.
- Indulge in physical activities: Going for walks with your baby in a stroller can be a simple method to get exercise and enjoy some fresh air. Research has shown that walking significantly helps in improving symptoms of depression. If you’re unable to dedicate time for a long workout, consider shorter exercise sessions of about 10 minutes, scattered throughout your day.
- Maintain a daily log of your feelings: Writing is an effective way to express your feelings and reduce frustrations. As you start feeling better, revisiting your journal entries can provide a clear perspective on your progress and how much you’ve improved.