Being a mother is supposed to be the best thing that ever happens to us. We are to instantly fall in love with our babies, embrace the challenges with a smile, and shrug off the loss of our old lives we had when kids were nonexistent. If you are a mom reading this, you are probably laughing. Motherhood, with all of its joy, is not always filled with sunshine and rainbows. Being a mom is a challenge, and too many parents are ashamed of their anxiety, depression, and fears that come with the territory. This Mother’s Day, we must break down these expectations and false depictions of the “perfect mom” to shed a light on the realities of mental health problems in motherhood. It is only then that we can overcome stigmas to help others find the support they need.
Common Mental Health Challenges for Moms
Maternal Mental Health Disorders can encompass everything from postpartum depression to anxiety to depression to OCD to psychosis. Most of the mental health problems that moms face are typical disorders but may be magnified by the added stress of a new child. Moms who had unexpected or unwanted pregnancies are at higher risk, as are moms who already suffered from a mental health disorder before giving birth.
The truth is that being a mom is wonderful, but stressful. You go from taking care of just yourself to being responsible for a tiny, fragile human overnight. There is not one book or class that can adequately prepare a new mom for the subsequent emotions a new child brings. Not immediately bonding with a baby can also create feelings of shame, unworthiness, and fear. Or perhaps a mental health problem developed as a child got older. You may have embraced motherhood during the baby and toddler stages, but are experiencing depression during the teenage years. Regardless of the mental health challenge, please know that you are not alone. Here are some stats to prove it:
Up to 1 in 5 moms will suffer from a Maternal Mental Health Disorder
50% of women living in poverty suffer from a Maternal Mental Health Disorder
Almost 40% of young moms suffer from a mental health issue
15-20% of all mothers experience anxiety
Moms of color are twice as likely to experience anxiety
Over 30% of moms with Postpartum Depression experienced a mental health disorder before giving birth
Mothers are more likely to be depressed 4 years after giving birth than any other time after birth
Maintaining Your Mental Health in Motherhood
There is no one size fits all solution to recovering from a mental health disorder in motherhood. Every treatment plan varies depending on the patient, length and severity of the disorder, and type of disorder. However, there are some tips you can put in place today to keep your mental health in check. Taking care of yourself as a mom may seem like a luxury, but it is vital to feel good and be the best mom you can be.
Ask for Help – Not all moms have the luxury of having a grandparent or babysitter who can help. Finding help at a low cost can be a challenge, but it is necessary if you are feeling overwhelmed by a mental health disorder. Research low-cost childcare centers or facilities in the area, such as the Boys and Girls Club. If you have the means to pay for help, don’t hesitate to ask. You don’t have to do everything alone.
Cut Out Unnecessary Chores and Errands – You don’t need to do all the laundry or chores. They can wait. Do the bare minimum and give yourself a break. Try to complete one key task a day.
Reduce Social Media – Social media can damage your mental health. People post pictures that depict a perfect family, but reality tells a different story. If social media is making you feel depressed, take a break from it.
Find Fun Things to Do with Your Child – Motherhood can be enjoyable when we take our kids to parks, get ice cream, or go to the beach with friends. It can get depressing when we are sitting inside all day with our kids screaming at one another. Try to get out of the house at least once a day.
Find a Hobby or Passion – Motherhood can make you question your identity or put off key goals and dreams. Just because you are a new mom doesn’t mean you have to give up your goals. Find something you enjoy doing and stick with it. This will help you feel more like “you” again.
Seek Therapy – Counseling centers like Straight Talk offer low-cost teletherapy for new moms who are struggling. Find a therapist who can offer the services you need.