Postpartum Depression (PPD) occurs after childbirth, usually within the first 1-3 weeks (“Postpartum Depression”, 2013). However, it is not limited to the first few weeks, and can occur any time in the first year after giving birth (“Postpartum Depression”, 2013). It lasts for extended periods of weeks or months, and can develop into chronic depression. The issue affects 6.5%-12.9% of new mothers (Chisholm, 2017), making it a common issue in women’s mental health. In fact, women with a history of depression are 7 times more prone to PPD (Chisholm, 2017).
Read on for some tips that professional counsellors can use when supporting people who have PPD.
Signs of Postpartum Depression to Be Aware of in a Therapist Career
In instances where you may refer a client to another professional, or cases where a client already has a diagnosis and you need to be sensitive to their symptoms, it is good to be aware of what PPD looks like. Some symptoms that women experience include feelings of inappropriate guilt, changes in their weight or appetite, depressed mood, and an inability to properly concentrate (DelRosario, Chang & Lee, 2013).
Counsellor Training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for PPD
With training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), counsellors can help clients with moderate or mild symptoms of PPD. This technique helps clients understand how their feelings, thoughts, and actions connect and influence each other. As a coping method, CBT gives clients tools to manage their stress, think realistically, and look at their PPD symptoms with new perspectives. This method can also help a client with their relationships and building a social support system.
Significant improvement has been shown in depressive symptoms for women with PPD using CBT as treatment (Fitelson, Kim, Baker & Leight, 2010). The method strengthens problem-solving skills and provides clients with strategies to cope so that they can confidently engage in their lives, prepared for the challenges they will face. For this reason, CBT will be an important part of your counsellor therapist career.
Support Groups and how they Can Help Mothers with PPD
Parenthood can be an isolating experience, which is a feeling that exacerbates depression. When experiencing PPD, it can be helpful for clients to use social support groups. This gives them a space where they can safely share their thoughts and feelings with other people going through similar life experiences.
Whether you can provide a support group or facilitate them finding one, encouraging your clients to connect to other parents can help them feel understood. It normalizes their feelings and removes stigma, reassuring them that others struggle with similar difficulties. This is important when one of the symptoms of PPD is feelings of inadequacy or fear of failure. Removing stigma around mental health issues is necessary—40% of Canadians surveyed said that they had experienced symptoms of depression or anxiety and refrained from seeking help (CAMH, n.d.).
In a therapist career, you may choose to work with support groups and create these environments of support and understanding. Or, you may use your position as a counsellor to point clients to resources where they can find group counselling.
Are you interested in counsellor training?
Contact Rhodes Wellness College for more information.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2013, December). Postpartum Depression. Retrieved from: https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Postpartum-Depression?IsMobileSet=false
Chisholm, A. (2017, February 8). Postpartum depression: The worst kept secret. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/postpartum-depression-worst-kept-secret-2017020811008
Lee. (2013, February). Postpartum
depression: Symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment approaches. Retrieved from:
Fitelson, Kim, Baker, Leight. (2010, December 30). Treatment of postpartum depression: clinical, psychological and pharmacological options. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3039003/
CAMH. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.camh.ca/en/driving-change/the-crisis-is-real/mental-health-statistics