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When you feel sad after you have your baby

The birth of a baby triggers many  emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety.   However it can also result in depression.

Many new moms experience the “postpartum baby blues” after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying, anxiety and difficulty sleeping.   Baby blues usually begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks.  However  some new moms experience a more  long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression.  If you experience postpartum depression,  treatment can help you manage your symptoms and enjoy your baby.

Symptoms

Postpartum baby blues symptoms

Signs and symptoms of baby blues — which last only a few days to a week or two after your baby is born — may include, mood swings, sadness, crying, feeling overwhelmed and reduced concentration.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Postpartum depression symptoms may include:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

If left untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or sometimes over a year.  New mothers often feel reluctant or embarrassed to admit to feeling depressed after her  baby’s birth.   However if you experience any symptoms of postpartum baby blues or postpartum depression, it is important to reach out for help and support from your doctor or therapist.

If you have suicidal thoughts

If at any time  you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, immediately seek help from your partner or loved ones in taking care of your baby and call 911 or your local emergency assistance number to get help.

Also consider these options if you’re having suicidal thoughts:

  • Call your mental health specialist.
  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Seek help from your primary doctor or other health care provider.
  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one.

In my psychotherapy practice, I work with many women who are experiencing post partum depression.  In addition to individual therapy I also have a group for new mothers to meet and discuss what they’re experiencing after the birth of their baby.  Remember if you’re experiencing the baby blues or postpartum depression, you’re not alone and there is help available.

 

The Loss of a Parent

Losing your parent is something which happens eventually to most of us.  It is a huge loss for most people and will take time to move forward.  My mother passed away 1 year ago and it has been difficult but after experiencing all the firsts, such as her birthday,  Mother’s Day and other holidays it has gotten easier and now I can celebrate her life more than mourn her death.

Sometimes losing a parent can feel like losing part of yourself.   It can sometimes feel impossible to cope with life without them.  However getting through this bleak time will prove that you’re stronger than you think you are and you have an inner strength that can help you to overcome grief and smile again.

 

These steps will help you during this difficult time:

1. Forgive yourself.

When a parent dies, guilt can become a burden because of past arguments you now regret or maybe because you think you didn’t do enough to help them.  Remember no parent/child relationship is perfect and going over negativity from  past will not help you to move forward.  By recognizing the past as something that is finished and unchangeable, you can begin to free yourself from guilt and reflect on the good times instead. The good times are what they would want you to remember.

2. Face your feelings.

Feelings of loss or anger can grow stronger if left unchecked, especially if you’ve never known death so close.  Mindfulness meditation is one way to help understand the flow of these feelings.

3. Keep talking.

The sudden reality of not being able to talk  to your Mom or Dad again is hard  to accept.  For a long time after losing my Mom, I would talk to her even though I didn’t expect an answer it was nice to just get the words out.

4. Look after yourself.

Grief can take its toll  on your body and health in many ways.  Loss of sleep and reduced appetite  are common after losing a loved one.  The remedy is to protect your health and fitness.  Try to go  walking with a friend, eat healthy  food, and stay hydrated. When your body feels healthy, it will often lift your mood and help you cope.

5. Take time out.

During the immediate aftermath, you’ll have an overwhelming to-do list. From making funeral arrangements to addressing legal matters. All of this is physically and mentally exhausting.  It’s important to rest and not feel guilty for taking time off.

6. Be patient.

Missing a parent is natural, and if you were very close, it will take time to adjust.  Time heals the acuteness of pain, but you will continue to miss your parent.   Recovery will happen at its own natural pace.

7. Enjoy precious memories.

There was a time I couldn’t think of my Mom without  crying.   However as time has gone on I’m able to recall the good times we shared and smile rather than cry.  The  time will come when you smile or laugh to yourself when you think of the good times you had with your parents. Let your parent live on in your thoughts, and enjoy seeing them there any time you wish.

Although the death of a parent is considered the natural order of events, it is still a very difficult loss and it’s difficult to get through it.  The steps above will help you to continue to enjoy your life and move forward as you remember your parent.   Remember to live your life with the knowledge that your parents would want you to live a happy and fulfilling life after they’re gone.

 

 

 

 

When a Friendship Ends

Some friendships end naturally while others may end prematurely and abruptly. If a friendship suddenly ends and you don’t understand why, it can be very painful.   If you don’t know why it ended,  you may feel spend a lot of time wondering what happened and grieving the loss of your friend.

Tips on What to Do When a Friendship Is Over:

When a friendship is over, sometimes it helps to review the relationship.   Perhaps you remember your friend complaining that you’re always late, maybe you rarely return their phone calls. Maybe one of you was always asking for help but rarely returned the favor.
When a friend ends your relationship, it is a good idea to try to uncover the reasons the friendship is over.
Some people are better able to express feelings in writing rather than talking. It may  be helpful  to write your friend a note where you can express your feelings about the friendship.

It’s helpful to express your feelings of hurt, anger, or rejection. Write or talk about how you feel in a journal or letter – something you don’t necessarily plan to send. You can send the letter, throw it away or keep it. What’s most important is that you were able to write down your feelings.
If you wish to reestablish your friendship in the future, you can keep the doors of communication open by sending holiday or birthday cards or tell mutual friends to say hello for you.
When a friendship is over, don’t give up until you’re ready.

What not to do When a friendship is over:

Don’t be disrespectful of your friend by gossiping or complaining to mutual friends. When a friendship is over, you have to let it go.

Don’t burn all bridges – The ending of a friendship may only be temporary and you may want to reach out to your friend in the future.

Don’t push for communication When a friendship is over, sometimes you have to let it be over.

When Words Hurt

When we think of domestic  abuse, we often think of someone being physically beaten but verbal abuse happens just as often. Unlike physical abuse, the participants in the relationship may not realize they’re harming each other– they may even find some transgressions to be “normal”.   Emotional abuse can happen between parent and child, romantic partners, among relatives and between friends.

In my  therapy practice, I’ve worked with many people who are being emotionally and verbally abused.  Many don’t realize they’re being abused and are hesitant to call what they’re experiencing abuse.  However as we talk and process the behavior of the other person and how it makes them feel it’s as if a light bulb goes off and they realize that yes it’s abusive and no one should be  treated this way.

If your answer is yes to these questions, you are most likely in an abusive relationship.

Does anyone regularly ridicule, dismiss, disregard your opinions, thoughts and feelings?

Does anyone make fun of you or put you down in front of others?

Does someone treat you as if you’re inferior to them?

Does someone make you feel that they are always right?

Does someone call you names and label you?

Do they blame you for their problems or unhappiness?

If you ever feel that you’re being emotionally or verbally abused, seeing a therapist may be very helpful for you.  Therapy can help you to understand the impact of an emotionally abusive relationship.   It can also help you to learn healthier ways of relating to others and caring for your own needs.  Remember no one deserves to be abused.

 

When You Can’t Stop Eating

Often when people think of eating disorders, they picture a young woman counting calories, wasting away in the case of anorexia, or a young woman hunched over the toilet purging her meals in order to stay slim in the case of bulimia.  However, many people often overlook or are unaware of compulsive overeating or binge eating, which is also a very serious eating disorder. In fact according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, almost 5 % of adults in the United States have some form of binge eating disorder. Similar to alcoholism and substance abuse, binge eating is considered an addiction and is listed in the DSM V.  I have personal experience with binge eating disorder.  I struggled with this for many years and found help   through groups and individual psychotherapy.  However as with all addictions, it’s something which needs to be continued to be worked on in order to remain in recovery. Many are surprised to learn that binge eating is an addiction. However  if you do some online research, you will see that food activates the same reward pathways that are activated when one uses cocaine, opiates, etc.

According to the DSM V,  binge eating disorder is characterized by frequent episodes of eating large amounts of food and/or feeling unable to stop eating. People who have binge eating disorder often feel embarrassed about overeating and want to stop, but are trapped in a vicious cycle of shame and compulsive eating. In order to recover, one must change the relationship they have with food, a process that can take some sessions with a mental health professional.  If you feel that your eating is out of control, it’s important to reach out for help.

Symptoms

Behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms of binge-eating disorder include the following:

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as over a 2-hour period
  • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
  • Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
  • Eating rapidly during binge episodes
  • Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
  • Frequently eating alone or in secret and/or hiding your food
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss

 

 Causes

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are correlations between binge eating and depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Having tried many diets or having grown up in a household that promoted binge-eating behaviors also contribute to the disorder.

Risk factors
According to The Alliance For Eating Disorders  there are several factors which will increase a person’s risk for developing binge eating disorder.  This list of factors is from their  website, allianceforeatingdisorders.com.

  • Family history.You’re much more likely to have an eating disorder if your parents or siblings have (or had) an eating disorder. –
  • Psychological issues.Most people who have binge-eating disorder feel negatively about themselves and devalue their skills and accomplishments, which often coincides with depression.  Triggers for binging often include stress, poor body self-image, food, and boredom.
  • Dieting.Many people with binge-eating disorder have a history of dieting — some have dieted to excess dating back to childhood. Dieting or restricting calories during the day may trigger an urge to binge eat, especially if you have low self-esteem and depression.  You may also be hungry from restricting all day.
  • Your age.Although people of any age can have binge-eating disorder, it usually develops  in adolescence or during the early 20’s

.If not treated, binge eating disorder can causes health consequences down the road such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol.  Talk to your primary care doctor or a mental health provider about your binge eating symptoms and feelings. If you’re nervous or reluctant to seek treatment, talk to someone you trust about what you’re going through. A friend, loved one or   teacher can help you take the first steps to successful treatment of binge-eating disorder.  Over eaters Anonymous is also a resource where people who also deal with binge eating come together to support each other in recovery.  Remember, you’re not alone and seeking help is the first step towards recovery.

 

How can I have fun without drugs and alcohol?

I’ve had many clients say to me , “It’s impossible for me to have fun without being high or drunk or being sober is so boring.”   At first yes it probably is boring to do things without being high, I mean if being high didn’t make you feel good, people wouldn’t do it.   There is  good news there are a number of strategies and resources at your disposal that can help you limit your substance use and get involved in substance-free activities where you can have a good time.   You don’t have to set out on this challenge alone– it’s okay to reach out to a supportive friend, relative, or a professional, who can help you stay on course.

As you begin to reduce your substance use, take some time to reflect on what makes you feel happy and fulfilled. Sharpening your awareness of your social, professional, and spiritual interests can go a long way towards finding activities that excite you and people who share your interests outside of substance use. Consider these suggestions to get you started: organizations that work toward a cause in which you strongly believe, athletic groups, political campaigns, reading circles, writing and theatrical clubs When you find what you’re into, you might also invite your current group of friends to join you in some fun without substances. Getting involved in these types of activities may also pave the way to new friendships that don’t revolve around on using substances. Here are more ideas you can enjoy  by yourself or with others.

  •  Work out at the gym, try a new group exercise class, or plan to go running or walking outside.
  •  Visit museums or take a trip to a zoo or aquarium (any of which may offer discounted admission for students or on certain days).
  •  Try being a tourist in your own city and find the hidden treasures  by exploring new neighborhoods.
  •  Try perusing websites like meetup.com to find other people in your area that share your interests. If you don’t find a group that you’re into, you can have like-minded individuals seeking you out by creating a special-interest group of your own.

It’s also understandable that you may want to still see your friends who still use.  If they were even your friends in the first place. Most of the time, you are useless to your addict friends if you quit..  It is possible to avoid the temptations of  alcohol or other substances.. By engaging in some pre-planning before a night out, you can think ahead about how much you want to consume (if at all) and how to politely decline offers of alcohol or anything else  that might come your way. Start by thinking about how you’d ideally like to handle a situation when someone offers or encourages you to have a drink or take a hit. Some responses could include: “Thanks, but I’m cutting back for a while,” or “No, I have a drug test tomorrow.” It may also help to let others know that you’ve set a personal limit for the night or have stopped using if you find that helps you stick to your plan.  There are also activities you can do that may help you check in with your internal state and strengthen your resolve to limit your substance use. Learning yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and other relaxation techniques have helped many on the same road to coping  with stress resulting from this change in lifestyle, as well as provide motivation for improving mind-body health.

Remember, reducing any degree of psychological or physical dependence on substances takes time, and can be achieved through measured reductions in use.   In addition to filling your time with other activities and interests, it’s a good idea to  consider speaking with a counselor or therapist.  A therapist or counselor can help you define specific goals regarding your use, including how much you’d like to cut back and at what pace, which may make for a transition.

Best of luck on the road to personal change!

Why People Choose Online Therapy

When I think about why clients choose online therapy, the first answer that comes to my mind is about convenience: the comfort of being in your own office or home, no travel necessary, the time saved, and the time of sessions is usually more flexible.  I admit I was skeptical about doing online therapy but when I decided to begin my practice and I read about it, I realized that it is something I wanted to do in addition to seeing clients in a traditional office setting.  I have been providing online video therapy for awhile now and I do enjoy doing it and actually prefer it to working in a traditional office setting.

When I’ve asked clients how they feel about seeing me via video rather than in an office, they’ve stated that they feel comfortable working this way and it’s more convenient for them since they do not have to go to an office.  During a recent snow storm I was able to see 7 clients online, I would not have been able to do this in an office because it would have been very difficult for me or my clients to get to the office.

Another reason some people chose online therapy is that it gives an added layer of confidentiality.  With online therapy, no one else has to know that you’re going to therapy unless you chose to tell them.  I don’t feel as comfortable doing telephone therapy as I prefer to see my clients when we’re speaking however telephone counseling is also an option.

Some clients would not benefit from online therapy and do need to be seen in an office.  Clients who are schizophrenic and actively psychotic would not be good candidates for online therapy.  Also clients who have recent suicidal attempts would benefit from  in office therapy until they are more stable.

I have found the outcomes for my clients to be just as good whether I see them online or in my office and I’m so glad I made the leap and offer online therapy.