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Depression

Depression can occur at any age. However, most often, a client's first experience with depression starts in adolescence or early adulthood. Unfortunately, most of us are never taught the signs and symptoms of depression or how to access the support we need. Untreated, depression can significantly impact functioning and quality of life and can lead to suicide. 

My goal in treating depression is to take a holistic perspective so that clients can regain power and control of their mental wellbeing, experience fewer exacerbations, and get back to enjoying their lives. 

Because there are so many developmental changes happening during early adulthood, navigating depression during this time requires skill and attention which are often not provided in traditional practices. I am committed to understanding your experience and helping you find the treatment that is safe, effective, and tolerable.

For clients in the perinatal period, depression can look different, see special information about how we make adjustments during that time. Wherever you are in life, it is possible to fully recover from depression.

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Mother and Baby

Postpartum Depression

Does NOT only occur during the postpartum period!

AND

It doesn't ONLY affect new mothers.

  • Postpartum depression (PPD) is the most common complication of childbirth.  An estimated 1 in 7 women will experience PPD with an increased risk in minority women (as many as 3-4 out of 10 women of color will experience postpartum depression). and 1 out of 10 dad will experience postpartum depression.

  • Rates of depression are as high during pregnancy as during the postpartum period-this is why we often refer to it as perinatal depression.

  • Postpartum depression can be extremely prolonged (years) if not adequately treated.

  • A thorough assessment with a trained perinatal mental health specialist is essential.  Depression that occurs during pregnancy or the postpartum period may present differently than other depressions-it is often more anxious and irritable.  The postpartum period is often a time when bipolar disorder will first occur.

  • There are safe and effective treatments for perinatal depression (for mom and baby), including therapy and medication.

  • Untreated maternal depression can have a negative impact on the baby as well as the mother.

Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

When depression occurs during pregnancy or the postpartum period, it can look and feel different that other episodes of depression.  In fact, even moms who have a past history of depression do not always recognize when they are having a relapse during pregnancy and the postpartum periods.  Not understanding or recognizing your own symptoms of depression can lead to more stress and overwhelm and exacerbate the guilt and shame that commonly occur with depression.

How is depression different during the pregnancy and postpartum periods?  First, it tends to be much more anxious.  It commonly includes intrusive thoughts and sometimes images that can be disturbing (when this is severe, we need to also assess for postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder).  Second, perinatal depression tends to be more irritable-likely partly due to hormonal and sleep deprivation stressors.  For moms who have never experienced this degree of irritability, they may show their frustration with anger, harsh tones, and withdrawal which can be damaging to relationships and further feelings of guilt and shame.

Most notably, the guilt and shame of maternal depression tend to create a default thought process of "I am not good enough.  I am a failure.  I can't get anything right."  Add in the the pressure of the cultural messages that moms receive that they need to be all sacrificing, constantly available, and experts on their children and a mom experiencing postpartum depression can feel completely overwhelmed and unable to ask for help.  Fortunately, these messages the depressed brain sends to you are just NOT true!

You are not alone.  It is not your fault.  With help, you will recover.  Good moms get depression.

Who is at risk for depression during pregnancy or postpartum depression?

Moms with a history of depression or trauma or pregnancy or birth complications.

Moms who do not have adequate support.

ALL moms.  Literally, ALL moms.  

Remember, depression can occur at any time during your life.  That said, the greatest period of risk for a woman is the first year after having a child.  It can occur during any pregnancy or postpartum period.  If you have a personal history of past mood or anxiety disorders or trauma or pregnancy or birth complications, you are at increased risk so connect early, get screened, and ask for help!

It turns out pregnancy and the postpartum periods are the romantic times the diaper commercials promise.  Moms need basic support (food, finances, shelter, etc.) AND emotional support during pregnancy and postpartum.  When these necessities are not available, moms are at increased risk of stress and overwhelm which can contribute to depression and anxiety in the pregnancy and postpartum periods.

Depression does not occur as a consequence for unintended or unplanned pregnancies.  It is not a reflection of your love for your baby or your parenting skills.  It has nothing to do with your parental experience or preparation.  Depression just happens...to good moms who love their babies.

Why depression in pregnancy and postpartum MUST be treated...no, you can't wait.

Postpartum depression and depression during pregnancy do not resolve without treatment.  Delaying treatment can often mean a mom will continue to experience symptoms for YEARS.  Just like any other serious medical condition, it requires proper treatment.

Untreated perinatal depression increases the risk of mood and anxiety disorders in the child persisting to the school-age years.  In addition, at least 50% of partners of moms with postpartum depression also experience postpartum depression.

Depression can be fatal and this is especially true in the perinatal period.  Suicide is the second leading cause of maternal mortality.  

Pregnancy
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Postpartum Depression in Virginia

You are not alone!  According to America's Health Rankings United Health Foundation, in 2019 the percentage of women experiencing postpartum depression was 14.6% ABOVE the national average of 13.4%.  In the same report, Virginia was noted to have an increase in frequent mental distress among women ages 18-44 by 52%!  Postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety are the most common complication of pregnancy and of women experiencing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, only 40% are ever diagnosed.  Fortunately, telehealth maternal mental health care allows more moms in Virginia to get the care they need!

Postpartum Depression in North Carolina

You are not alone!  According to America's Health Rankings United Health Foundation, at least 10.7% of moms in NC experience postpartum depression and in 2019, the incidence of frequent mental distress among women ages 18-44 in North Carolina increased by 32%!  With many rural regions, increasing rates of uninsured, and a scarcity of health care providers trained in perinatal mental health, it is vital that moms in North Carolina have access to perinatal mental health through a safe, secure, HIPPA compliant telehealth platform.  Over 75% of women in Virginia, North Carolina, and nationwide do not get diagnosed and do not receive adequate treatment.  Joy Spring Mental Health is determined to have impact on changing this story for the positive.

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