Resources on the types of treatment for postpartum depression, also known as post natal depression. Includes the latest information.

How EMDR Therapy Helped Postpartum Me

[Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from a Warrior Mom who employed EMDR Therapy in order to process her postpartum depression and anxiety. EMDR is one of eight types of psychotherapy for postpartum depression treatment. We’re thankful she shared her experience for others considering this option. -Jenna]

How EMDR Therapy Helped Postpartum Me

I thought I had digested it, processed it, was done with it.

I wasn’t.

Here I was, sitting in my EMDR therapist‘s office, discussing my postpartum depression and anxiety days almost ten years later. With each question asked, I delved deeper into my past, isolating that one biggest moment I knew something was wrong.

I was currently analyzing the ER at my hospital.

Buzzers gently vibrated my right hand, then my left. I was being trained to reprocess this memory. A memory I thought I had processed many years ago.

The ER was bleak, bare, suffocating. It was a small room with beige walls filled with grey fabric chairs with black plastic arms and legs. The carpet was grey too. There was no natural light except for the front doors. I was seated facing forward with the doors on my left.

The chaos around me was shut out by my mind. Random worries played Pong in my head as I tried hard to keep up with all of them. If I wasn’t pacing the floor, I was rocking back and forth in the chair next to my mother.

I hated this woman, this woman I had become. I spent years trying to remove myself from her. I was a failure, a disgrace. Mothering should not have been an occupation given to me as I was clearly failing with that too. I was ashamed.

I couldn’t care for my daughter; I couldn’t even stand to be around her. I hated her and because of that, I deeply despised myself.

How quickly I went from admiring this beautiful baby of mine to cringing at any sound she made. Looking at her adorable face just deepened the hate I had for myself. I removed myself, becoming robotic, between vomiting and crying fits, when taking care of her.

Here I was, in the ER, exactly one month after she was born.

My therapist had thought it a good idea to reprocess this moment. He believed that my postpartum depression and anxiety were connected to the recent events of fostering a special needs toddler and ultimately succumbing to the evil grips of Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety again after having to give him back.

I failed once again at motherhood. I couldn’t balance his needs, my daughter’s needs, and taking care of myself.

Once again, like all those years ago, it seemed as if Postpartum Me was returning. I was dry-heaving every morning and most afternoons and evenings. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating. I was obsessively worrying about his care and overlooking my daughter’s.

I broke and wound up in the ER once again. I had come full circle.

As I sat with the buzzers going off in my hands that day in therapy, I truly began to think about that day, all those years ago, in the ER. Staring at my Postpartum self as I was now, I deeply looked at her.

She was a mess but she would get better. My therapist told me to go with tha,t which was him basically saying to continue with that thought. Present Day Me knelt down beside Postpartum Me. I took her hands in mine and looked into her eyes. She, still rocking back and forth, was focused on a floral print picture on the wall directly in front of her.

“It’s okay,” I told her, “I know because I have been there. You will get better. I did.”

With that, Postpartum Me stopped rocking back and forth and focused her eyes on mine. Present Day Me was crying. Ten years and I finally had compassion for myself. It was freeing in so many ways. Not only was I able to fully reprocess my Postpartum years, but in turn, because of that, I had processed my Post-Foster years.

EMDR therapy saved me. It gave me the compassion I needed for myself. The compassion I give to so many others, I was now able to give to me.

~Stephanie Trzyna

A Working Model of OBGYN & Pediatrician Screening for Postpartum Depression

[Editor’s Note: Today we’re excited to have an amazing post by Lucy J Puryear, M.D., Associate Professor at Baylor College of Medicine. With all the talk we’ve had regarding the US Preventive Task Force’s recommendation to screen pregnant and new moms for mood disorders, we’ve seen a lot of questioning as to how to make this possible. Additionally, we recently learned that less than half of pediatricians discuss mental health with new moms. When we shared this on Twitter the other day, Lucy reached out. We’re in love with the work she’s doing in Texas. We asked her to share more about it. We hope it inspires and encourages you, too. -Jenna]

A Working Model of OBGYN & Pediatrician Screening for Postpartum Depression -postpartumprogress.com

About three or four years ago my clinic, The Women’s Place in the Pavilion for Women (PFW) at Texas Children’s Hospital, received a Medicaid Waiver Grant (called 1115 waiver because our governor refused to expand Medicaid) to expand screening and treatment of women with postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs).

My goal has always been to not just screen but to provide a seamless integrated system when positive screens can easily be referred to a provider and followed on up to ensure an appointment is offered.

To date we have successfully implemented a system where every woman who delivers at the PFW (other women can come to us who don’t deliver there) is given the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Screening Scale (EPDS) at the first prenatal visit, at 35 weeks, and 6 weeks postpartum. A best practice alert is triggered in the medical record, and the EPDS is given and entered into the chart. At any time during pregnancy or postpartum, a woman can be referred to us with a appointment request through the electronic medical record (EMR).

Our team triaged the referral, and we have a social worker who calls those women with the highest scores to make sure they are safe and to provide support and get them emergency care if needed. We try and get all women seen within seven days of the referral.

The second goal I have had for a long time is to have pediatricians screening moms at the two week newborn appointment. This has taken longer to accomplish as it requires lots of coordination with Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) leadership and individual practice managers.

To date we have successfully rolled out to four pediatrics practices in the TCH system. Our team goes to their offices to provide education about PMADs and how to use the EPDS. The pediatricians have access to the same appointment request in the EMR that comes directly to our clinic. We have promised the pediatricians if they make the referral, we will take responsibility from there to make sure the mother is contacted and seen as necessary. We’ve been piloting two of these practices for two years and have good data and feedback from the pediatricians.

Part of this plan has been to put providers out in the community so that mothers don’t have to come into the huge medical center to be seen. Some women have been driving an hour or more to see us. Right now we have the southeast corner of Houston covered and this summer will have the northwest.

Recently TCH administration met to make rolling out this program to all 56 pediatrics practices in their system. We will be on-boarding groups using the model we’ve piloted. One thing we’ve been able to do is send someone out periodically to encourage compliance and troubleshoot problems. It makes a huge difference to keep the process going. It also makes a huge difference when you have buy in from administration mandating it be done.

This has been terribly exciting and rewarding. When finished I think we will have a national model for wrap around care for new mothers. Currently we have three psychiatrists, one social worker, and one psychologist working with us. We have a fourth psychiatrist joining us this summer. Our psychiatrists don’t always prescribe medication and but also provide supportive therapy. We have a support group we offer to all women. Any new hires from here will likely be social workers to provide evaluations out in the community.

Lucy J Puryear M.D.
Associate Professor
Baylor College of Medicine

How to Get the Most Out of Your Therapist

[Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from Virginia Duan. I really wished I had read it before I searched for my first therapist. And my second… and I may just bookmark it in case I ever need to find another one! -Jenna]

How to Get the Most Out of Your Therapist -postpartumprogress.com

It can be incredibly overwhelming and expensive to find a therapist. It might even be worse than online dating. Then after finding one, we are not sure what to do with them, how to know if they are a good fit for us, or how long counseling should last.

After all, how do you explain all of who you are and what you need in 50 initial minutes?

After years of therapy with three different doctors, I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. Here then, are some of my tips for getting the most out of your therapist.

1. Decide what you want to get out of therapy beforehand.

Now, this may seem surprising since it seems the whole purpose of therapy is to figure things out. But like all things, I have found that the clearer I am about what I want, the more likely I am to get it.

Your goal can be as general or as specific as you want.

It can be as simple as: Help me. I’m overwhelmed. Help me get whelmed.

With my current therapist, I wanted to work on my anger and uncontrollable screaming with the kids. It had come to the point where my five year old son’s hair actually moved from the force of my yelling. Yes. Like in the cartoons.

2. It’s okay to just choose the first therapist who is available.

Often, because we know therapy is such an intimate thing and such a big deal in terms of money, time, and effort, we want to find that “perfect” therapist. But the truth is, there is no such unicorn. All it does is unnecessarily keep us from getting the help that we so desperately need.

The first two times, I wanted someone who was just like me: Asian American, Christian, and a woman. Unfortunately, when I needed a counselor the third time, I had moved and had three kids, five and under. I still wanted an Asian American Christian woman but this time, I knew that given my town demographics, limited time windows, and childcare needs, I conceded to location and ease.

I asked my local therapist friend for recommendations. I checked them out and went with the first one who emailed me back.

3. Tell your therapist your objective(s). Ask for discrete and concrete skills and suggestions. Follow them.

Okay. Technically, that’s three tips all in one.

But seriously, even though everyone can benefit from just talking to a neutral and supportive person, remember you are taking time and resources away from your family. It sounds so cold and transactional, but it is far more effective to state upfront what you want out of the relationship (and it is a relationship), and request specific actions you can take. That way, both of you have the same expectations. [Read also: 8 Types of Psychotherapy for Postpartum Depression Treatment.]

4. Go into each session with a specific topic/situation that you want to discuss.

I don’t know about you, but my personal issues often seem so vast and impossible. I often refer to it as “eating an elephant.” Unfortunately, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

Going into the weekly sessions with a specific incident or topic in mind is your “one bite at a time.” Of course, there are weeks when I have no idea what to discuss, and that’s okay too. I usually just tell my therapist and ask her to ask me a question. That usually gets the ball rolling.

5. Give yourself at least a year.

I know. That sounds awful. After all, what if you commit yourself to a year with this person and it turns out to be wasted?

Truthfully, my first thoughts of my current therapist were that she was into some seriously weird hippy dippy woo woo stuff. But I stuck with her because I figured if thinking similarly to me had worked, WHY WAS I STILL HAVING THESE PROBLEMS? I’m so grateful I stuck it out. I have seen that a lot of what she said in the initial sessions where I thought she was way off-base were actually spot on.

Also, you will be tempted to stop after a few months because you will get better. That’s just the initial “bounce” from actually talking to someone about your problems. Many professionals say it takes at least a year of counseling before you should even think about stopping. [Read also: Six Things That Can Affect How Quickly You’ll Recover from Postpartum Depression]

It took time to get the way you are. It will take time to heal, too.

6. Be truthful.

Don’t lie. I mean, what’s the point in investing all this time and money with someone if you’re just going to deceive them? Just don’t do it.

7. It’s okay for your goals to change.

Just because you started therapy with one objective doesn’t mean it has to stay the same until you’re done. You are constantly evolving as a person and you’ll find that as you resolve and work through particular issues, new ones will crop up. It only makes sense that your goals will change, too.

8. Commit. Make counseling a priority.

In this over-committed world, not to mention being a busy mom, it is incredibly easy to blow off counseling and cancel when things get hard schedule-wise. Don’t do it. Short of emergencies, commit to going weekly and go.

You are important. You are enough of a reason to get well.

 
Virginia Duan is a Taiwanese American lifestyle blogger at MandarinMama.com. She focuses on identity, social justice, religion, homeschooling, Chinese/English bilingual education, parenting, and raising multi-ethnic kids. She is known for her unflinching honesty, fury-tinged humor, and using ten words when one would do.

Support for Military Moms with Postpartum Mood Disorders

On this Veteran’s Day, the Postpartum Progress community would like to send out a giant thank you to all of our brave and dedicated military men and women, as well as a special note of thanks to the families who continue to make sacrifices on the home front.

Support for Military Moms
Source: Defense Logistics Agency.

Military moms, including veterans, those on active duty, and the spouses of service men, can be at greater risk for postpartum mood disorders. So today, as we offer our thanks and support, please take this opportunity to think of the military moms in your life. Do you know a pregnant or new mom who has been in combat? Do you know a mom who’s spouse is currently on deployment? Does she seem to be struggling?

Are you a military mom yourself? Are you struggling?

It is vital to watch out for the symptoms of postpartum depression or other mental illness. Here are the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety in easy to understand language. Take a moment today to familiarize yourself and bookmark this page in honor of our veterans who need support.

If you recognize the signs in a loved one, it’s so important to reach out to them, and help them find professional support.

If you are struggling yourself, I know from experience that opening up about these feelings is very scary. You may be feeling like a failure as a mom. A few years ago, I know I felt that way, but please believe me, it’s not true. Reaching out is the first step to true healing.

With your military training, postpartum depression may also leave you feeling weak. Why can’t you just use your skills to pull yourself up and push through?! Because postpartum depression doesn’t work that way. It’s a genuine illness that needs medical treatment, just like if you were wounded in combat. A doctor must help you to heal. But please know, you are absolutely not alone in this battle and if you reach out you can win the fight.

Please keep this list handy if you or a loved one needs help and support.

Resources for Military Moms and Families

Military OneSource: Confidential Help Call: 800-342-9647

Veterans Crisis Line: Free Confidential 24/7 Support for Veterans and their friends and family. Call: 800-273-8255 and Press 1, or Text 838255. Online chat is also available.

PSI Support for Military Families

Are you familiar with other mental health resources for military moms? Please post them in the comments. 

Also, please don’t forget about our own Postpartum Progress Private Forum, a free peer-to-peer online forum for women with perinatal and postpartum mood disorders. Connecting online with others who “get it” has been a huge part of my own healing process, so I highly recommend it. Here’s how to join:

1. Go to this link: https://smartpatients.com/postpartumprogress
2. Underneath the Warrior Mom logo on the left hand side of your screen, input your email address and click “Request An Invitation.”
3. You’ll then receive an email from Smart Patients inviting you to join Smart Patients. Be sure to check your spam file if you don’t see it in your inbox. 
4. Click the link in the email and choose a name and password.
5. You will then be automatically added to the Postpartum community on Smart Patients. From that point on, clicking this link –https://smartpatients.com/postpartumprogress — will take you to the community

Thank you again to our Veterans and military service people. We support you today and every day.