Because I wrote a book about my struggles with postpartum depression after the birth of my first daughter, some people assume that my mental health issues are over. After all, I took medication for eight months, went through talk therapy, and completed my treatment with a healthier mindset and an improved outlook on motherhood - and then I achieved even further closure by publishing my story as a graphic memoir.
Ask a new mom about her actions after giving birth, and you’ll hear a range of behaviors that would probably sound odd to most non-moms: Watching the baby’s breathing, checking the baby monitor dozens of times, keeping an eye on the front door for potential intruders. To new moms, these actions are likely all too familiar. The anxiety that comes with motherhood is something many new moms feel but rarely discuss. And perinatal anxiety - that is, anxiety during pregnancy and the postpartum period - has received limited attention from researchers and health professionals, according to a 2017 review article in The British Journal of Psychiatry, despite the fact that it is highly prevalent. We are, after all, suddenly responsible for tiny, helpless, precious humans. Who wouldn’t be anxious? This can all lead a mom to wonder, How much anxiety is too much?
Did you know that it’s common to feel a range of different emotions after your baby is born? You may: feel sad; cry and not know why; be impatient and irritable, sometimes for no clear reason; feel restless and anxious; have difficulties concentrating; feel sensitive; feel tired and/or have trouble sleeping, and have mood swings (e.g., joy to sadness, laughing to crying).If you feel like this, you’re not alone. Many new moms experience these feelings and they’re sometimes called the baby blues. If you don’t feel better with rest, sleep or support from others, or if these feelings last more than two weeks, you may be experiencing postpartum depression.
If your end-of-the-year family gatherings - culturally-based or not - create more stress than joy for you and your children, rest assured, you’re not alone. Many people do not eagerly anticipate the thought of packing the car and driving hours to get together with relatives they barely know - especially if they’ve become obligatory rather than wanted events. And if you’ve drawn the short straw and it’s your turn to host the family gathering, you might be adding a whole other layer of stress and expectations - imposed by self or others.
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