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The Effects of Mental Health on Motherhood

The Effects of Mental Health on Motherhood

Lolita Ramsey, LCPC is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Maryland, US. Lolita has been practicing mental health counseling as a clinical intern and professional for over 5 years. She is the owner of her own mental health private practice in which she provides individual and group therapy to support individuals experiencing mood issues and general life stress. In addition to running her private practice, Lolita enjoys promoting mental wellness and self-care through her brand Anivivian. Anivivian is a mental health awareness brand that offers tips and tools to increase mental wellness as well as a shop that sales affordable self-care products such as candles, bath bombs, and body scrubs. Check out the Anivivian’s Selfcare Shop at www.anivivianmha.com

  1. Many that have not experienced balancing motherhood and mental illness assume mothers that suffer use their mental health as an excuse to act inadequately. But what are the common effects mental illness has on motherhood?

When we are diagnosing and treating mental illnesses, we look to identify whether the mental health symptoms and/or challenges are causing significant distress and impairment in functioning. This is especially important when the complaints are sadness, anxiety, and stress because these are common things that everyone can experience to some degree. Therefore, if mothers are experiencing a mental illness then it will impact their ability to function and complete basic tasks.

2. Many Mamas feel scared to admit to the dark thoughts they experience while suffering from mental illness- when are dark thoughts something to brush off as a simple side effect and when is it something to take further action concerning?

Dark thoughts should never be brushed off. Sometimes we have them especially if you are dealing with mental health challenges, but they should never be brushed off. Now, having a dark thought is not necessarily an immediate cause for panic but it is something that should be noted. I think that whenever any type of thoughts become overwhelming, frequent, and/or severe then further action is required.

3. For Mamas suffering from postpartum depression, what can they expect in the long term and when is postpartum depression no longer connected to postpartum but instead medical depression?

Research shows that mothers have experienced symptoms of depression for months and even years after giving birth. I believe that if you are suffering from postpartum that there is a possibility that you may experience clinical levels of depression even past the postpartum period.

Of course, this is case by case because biological, social, and psychological factors contribute to mental health. So, someone who has a history of depression in their family would be more likely to have clinical depression after experiencing postpartum depression as opposed to someone who has no history of depression or mood disorders in their family.

There is no strict timeline for postpartum depression, but I believe that whenever you are noticing that the depression is spilling into other areas of your life or is persistent for longer than 6 months to a year then there may be some concern that this is something more than postpartum depression.

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4. When would you advise medication is needed for mental illness?

When advising medication, I always try to be aware of my client’s comfort level. However, sometimes as a professional I will advise it if I am concerned about the severity of their symptoms even if they are not necessarily ready or wanting to take that step. Outside of safety concerns, I would advise medication when a client is overwhelmed with symptoms and/or when therapy alone has not been as effective as it could be.

5. What are some healthy alternatives to medication for mental illness?

This is so cliché and is why in the beginning of my career I would almost never tell clients this unless they brought it up first, but diet and exercise. There are so many reasons why diet and exercise are helpful when experiencing mental illness from the biological things that happen when you eat well and workout to the sense of accomplishment that you feel from treating your body well and everything in between. Other alternatives are meditation, positive self-talk and affirmations, self-compassion, and of course regular therapy session as needed.

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