Post-Partum Depression & Anxiety

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Becoming a new parent is truly a life changing experience. It changes the dynamics of a relationship, and can often deepen a couple’s bond. However, it can also be a challenging experience for a family.  Symptoms of prenatal or post-partum depression and anxiety (PPD/A), complications during pregnancy or birth, the strain of changing expectations at home, and the financial hardships of maternity/paternity leave, can add unforeseen layers to our parenting journey.

Fast Facts:

  • Can be experienced within a few weeks, months, or even a year after arrival of baby

  • 10-16% of women start to experience symptoms during pregnancy

  • Affects 8-12% of mothers, not just first-time parents

  • Symptoms present most days to nearly every day, for two weeks or longer

What can symptoms look like?

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Anxious thoughts or images

  • Changes in appetite

  • Uncontrollable crying

  • Upset over trivial matters

  • Extreme mood swings

  • Unable to enjoy baby

  • Panic attacks

  • Thoughts of harming baby or self

  • Strong feelings of guilt, failure, worthlessness

  • Lack of interest in things usually enjoyed

  • Inability to cope

  • Forgetfulness

  • Muscle tension

  • Difficulty focusing

  • Overwhelming worry

  • Traumatic flashbacks

Although it can affect anyone, these are some contributing factors:

  • Expectations of yourself, or partner’s expectations of you

  • Grieving a loss (job, loved one, etc.)

  • Feeling unsure about pregnancy or parenthood

  • Being a young parent

  • Baby with medical conditions

  • Sleep deprivation

  • Lack of support/isolation

  • Health problems

  • Housing/Income stressors

How can I get help?

Get help as soon as possible; waiting longer can prolong the recovery process. The sooner you take the first step, the sooner you will get back to feeling your usual self and being a better parent. It is important to mention your symptoms to health care providers such as your public health nurse, midwife or physician. Your healthcare professional may be able to let you know about local PPD/A support groups. Counselling, medication, or a combination of both can be very helpful.  Education can help with understanding the condition and its effects on your life. Self-care is essential to the recovery process.  This includes eating nutritious food, exercise, rest, seeking support (partner, friends, loved ones, etc.), and also finding time for yourself. Recovery may take time, but with the right combination of tools and supports, you will get better.

 

References & Resources:

Healthy Families BC: www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca

Healthlink BC: www.healthlink.bc.ca, 8-1-1 (translation services available in 130 different languages)     

Pacific Postpartum Support Society: www.postpartum.org, 604-255-7999

BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services: http://www.bcmhsus.ca

Canadian Mental Health Association: www.cmha.bc.ca

Inder Kauldher, MC, RCC

Inder has extensive experience working with adolescents, adults, and families. Counselling new mothers and parents in areas of PPD/A became a passion of hers through her own journey.  Having experienced, first-hand, the mental health challenges pregnancy and parenthood can bring, she finds pieces of her own experiences in the birth stories and journeys of parenthood she hears from her clients. She also specializes in areas of depression, anxiety, life transitions, burnout, and cross-cultural issues. For communication with the author, please direct your correspondence here: inderkauldher@vitalitycollective.ca

 

Handling Conflicts (Challenges) Effectively

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Imagine a life without conflict. 

Sounds great doesn’t it?  But we all know that’s not possible because conflict is inevitable.  Depending on a variety of factors (the nature of the problem, our mood, our relationship with the other person, or the time of day), we handle conflict in different ways. Below is a continuum to show the range of ways people may react to conflict:

Passive----------------Assertive-----------------Aggressive

(avoids)          (communicates effectively)             (attacks)

 

Conflict in families can be especially stressful because we are so invested in these relationships.  We care what our loved ones think and feel, and so when hurtful words or actions are exchanged it is very distressing to both parties.

 According to Attachment Theory (Bowlby), conflict is considered an opportunity for growth in relationships.   Most of us tend to view conflict negatively; but what if we were to look at it as a challenge and as a way to communicate our needs to others?  Conflicts arise because we may have unmet needs in our relationships.  For example, instead of saying I need some ‘me’ time, I yell at my husband and kids for not doing enough around the house.  Or, I avoid my partner by burying myself in my work.   

Below are a few things for you to think about:

1.    Identify your behaviour during a conflict:   aggressive, passive-aggressive or passive.

2.    Step back and don’t respond immediately.  By taking a step back, our anger has time to subside and we give ourselves time to think before we speak.  

3.    Find a calm time and space when both parties can attend to the conversation without distractions.

4.    Verbal and non-verbal communication is key to successful problem-solvingWhat we say is just as important as how we say it.  Use eye-contact, position your body so you are facing the other party, and listen attentively (that means put your phone away!).  Try to understand the other person’s perspective by putting yourself in their shoes.  Wait for your turn to speak and don’t interrupt.  When it is your turn, speak assertively.  Look the person in the eye, sit up straight, use a calm voice and tone and be honest.  “I messages” are an effective way to get your point across.  For instance, “I felt angry when you didn’t do the dishes.”  “I need some down time when I come home from work.”

5.    Don’t play the blame game because that just makes people defensive.  Express how you feel and what you need.

Let’s change the way we view conflict.  When we change the way we look at something, we will react differently.  Look at conflict as a challenge or as an opportunity for growth in ourselves and in our relationships.

 

Perminder Hundle, MA, RCC

As a professional counsellor to children, youth, adults, couples, and families, Perminder is passionate about helping people navigate their relationships and family systems. Perminder is very skilled at working with children and adults, helping parents with skills on better parenting or working on their own relationships, working with anxiety and depression, and helping navigate cross-cultural issues for individuals, couples, and families. For communication with the author, please direct your correspondence here: perminderhundle@vitalitycollective.ca