May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we would like to share an article written by one of our Clinicians, Madalyn Caldwell, ED.S., LPC, for Journey Magazine that discusses the distress that parenting can cause in some people and some helpful ways to manage that stress!
“Providing love and unconditional regard for little ones can be a very difficult task. Parents are often required to juggle work, school, parenting, homework, and so much more. Psalm 127:3 says, ‘Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.’ Uncovering the beauty and the reward of parenthood can sometimes be difficult when parents experience symptoms of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders.
The stress of being the perfect parent can increase the risk of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders affect 15 to 20% of women and men. These symptoms can appear before, during, and within the first 12 months after birth. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders can appear as increased worry, racing thoughts, inability to concentrate, fear of being alone, hypervigilance in protecting baby, lack of interest in baby, and much more. God has provided so much solace for us as we navigate raising children and balancing life. 1 Peter 5:7 reminds us to ‘Cast our anxieties on him because he cares for you.’ Having the reminder that God offers us comfort in difficult times can be reassuring. Seeking God can bring us peace in moments when we are overwhelmed by the job of parenthood. While prayer and reading the bible brings comfort, we often require more physical means of care. Thankfully, there are several ways that parents can help alleviate the symptoms and stress that can be caused by parenting.
- You are not alone. Identify who is in your support circle. These will be friends, church members or family members that are there to help you take care of baby, listen to your concerns, and provide meals and rest for you. Support can also be found in postpartum support groups.
- Nurture yourself. The birth of a new baby often means less sleep and food for parents. Be sure to find time to get some proper rest and meal. A quick walk around the yard or to the mailbox, a hot shower, or a listening to a good podcast can nurture your mind and body to give you the strength that you need to move forward.
- Write it out. Jot down or journal your feelings and experiencing from day to day. Documenting your daily mood and feelings can help you monitor how you are feeling and determine whether your feelings are improving or getting worse. Mood tracking can let you know what makes you feel better and what can make you feel worse.
- Seek professional help. If you are noticing that your moods are continuing to get worse or that your symptoms are not improving, seek professional help. You can find numerous resources for postpartum mental health at postpartum.net. This resource also includes a national directory that lists all certified perinatal mental health counselors in your area.
Continue to do your best and that God provides you with all the strength and courage you need to raise your children. As you rock your baby to sleep at night or get up to check on your sleeping baby, remember, ‘I can do all things thought Christ who strengthens me’ Philippians 4:13.”
Madalyn Caldwell is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She then received a Master’s degree and Ed.S. from Troy University. Madalyn is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Supervision from Walden University.
Madalyn enjoys working with clients of all ages to overcome life transitions, anxiety, depression, and trauma recovery. Madalyn is certified in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and is training to become a registered play therapist. Madalyn is also a certified perinatal mental health counselor and is excited about working with parents who are experiencing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders such as depression, anxiety, and OCD.