Dealing with Depression Symptoms in Early Parenthood

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health  
Smiling young african American mother sit on warm floor play with little infant toddler child, happy biracial mom relax have fun read book with small baby girl at home, motherhood, childcare concept

Parenting is hard. Parenting with depression is even harder. With depression, you might not have the energy to even take proper care of yourself, but when you have a child (or two) depending on you to feed, dress and bathe them, ignoring their needs isn’t an option. 

When you muster up the energy to finally get everyone situated, it might be a wholly halfhearted attempt to meet the bare minimum just to get the job done. When the task is completed, feelings of failure, self-doubt and a gnawing sense of “being a bad parent” might plague you, sending you further into depression and even less focused on the kids in front of you. 

The truth of the matter

Allow us to shed some truth on the situation. First, you’re not a bad parent, you’re a parent struggling with depression and trying to manage the difficulties of parenting. That’s a lot for one person to undertake. 

Second, struggling with parenting doesn’t make you a failure. Especially if this is your first baby, there’s going to be millions of trial and error moments simply because you’ve never done this before – did you master riding a bicycle the first time your dad removed the training wheels? Probably not, so don’t expect yourself to master parenting with your first (or even second) child…plus, raising kids is way harder than learning to ride a bike, remember that. 

Third, everyone doubts their abilities to parent. Depression is likely to magnify that sense of doubt to a debilitating point. Remember, just because you think you’re doing an awful job, your child probably doesn’t see it that way at all.

Coping with depression as a parent is both a mental challenge and a physical challenge, in that you physically need to get up and do things to overcome depressive states. By taking small, simple steps each day you might surprise yourself with how often you actually succeed. 

Find your people

It might be your own parent, your best friend or someone from a mom’s group who’s been around the ring a time or two. No matter who it is, it’s someone knowledgeable, reliable and honest who you can call when times get tough. Maybe you feel like responsibilities aren’t evenly distributed between you and your spouse, but you don’t know how to ask for help without becoming emotional and angry. Perhaps you need someone to come over and hold the baby while you get the laundry folded or lawn mowed. It can be anyone you trust who can cheer you on or kindly call you out. 

Even if you don’t reach out frequently, it’s always helpful to know you do have someone you can contact when you don’t know where else to turn. 

Go outside

Kids love being outside. Infants will sit in the stroller and nod off during a walk. Young children can explore with chalk, dandelions, water, even dirt and sand while you rest on the back porch. The point is, find time to get outside every day. Whether it’s tending to a garden, going on a 30-minute walk or bike ride, or relaxing in the sun to soak in some Vitamin D, a little time outdoors can go a long way in reducing symptoms of depression.

Power off your devices

Turn off the news, it can be full of stressful information that you have no control over. You have your own life to worry about, why make yourself sad and anxious about what’s happening somewhere else. By choosing to focus only on what’s in front of you, you’ll feel less overwhelmed.

Take a break from social media. Whether that’s turning off notifications or deleting apps entirely for a period of time, give yourself a break. Social media makes you feel the need to be “on” and available 24/7, not to mention the temptation to compare yourself to all the other parents out there. You already have to be available constantly to your children, so ease the burden and don’t make yourself available to people on the internet, and always remember social media parents are only posting the best parts of their life, so don’t compare yourself to only half of someone else’s reality. 

Seek help

Sometimes, regardless of the steps you take and the advice you read, you still find yourself struggling. This does not mean you’re a failure, it simply means the problem is just not something you’re equipped to handle on your own. Even individuals who struggle with depression without the addition of parenthood need to reach out for help at times, so there’s absolutely no shame if you need to as well. 

This is what counselors are for, to help those who don’t know how or simply don’t have the energy to handle mental disorders like depression. Reaching out to and talking with a counselor or therapist not only can provide you with the tools you need to handle depression, but it can give you a new outlook on life as well.

If you feel burdened by the responsibilities of parenthood and overwhelmed with depression, contact Pyramid Online Counseling today at (833) 525-3077 for convenient, at-home and professional counseling. 

What is Prenatal Depression and How is it Treated?

Pyramid Online Counseling      Mental Health  
Maternity Portrait in front of window in UK.

What is prenatal depression?

Prenatal depression is defined as depression – a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest – experienced by the mother during pregnancy. Prenatal depression can also lead to heightened worry, anxiety and sadness throughout the pregnancy. When left untreated, prenatal depression can have serious and potentially fatal side effects.

What are the symptoms of prenatal depression?

Prenatal depression symptoms can vary depending on the person, but the most commonly reported symptoms include sleep changes, decreased libio and energy levels, loss of interest on hobbies or other enjoyable activities, poor adherence to natal care and thoughts of suicide. It is noted that some symptoms of depression, like sleep changes, are also common side effects of pregnancy, which can lead to prenatal depression going undetected. Secondary effects of prenatal depression can include the baby not receiving necessary nutrients to thrive if the mother is not able to regularly eat balanced meals, exercise if needed or otherwise maintain her health.

Is depression common among pregnant women?

There are now three known types of depression that one can experience before or after pregnancy, prenatal depression – while the mother is pregnant, postpartum depression – after the baby has been born, and perinatal depression – a combination of the two. It is estimated that worldwide, roughly 10% of pregnant women experience prenatal depression and 13% of new mothers experience postpartum depression; this means that 10% of pregnant women experience prenatal depression. When we imagine 10 women that we work with, or 10 women in our family, the fact that one out of those 10 have the potential for prenatal depression makes the statistic much more sobering. The risk for developing prenatal depression is also exponentially increased for pregnant women experiencing financial or food insecurity, health complications and familial instability. Although prenatal depression is nearly as common as postpartum depression, it is discussed much less in the public discourse on pregnancy.

What effect does prenatal depression have on mothers – and their families?

The time before a baby is born is meant to be a period where families form closer bonds in anticipation of their new addition. It is also a stressful time that brings about great change (and expense). If the expectant mother is experiencing prenatal depression, she may feel less excited and hopeful about her new baby. This can also lead to a disconnect between the parents-to-be, if they are not able to openly or equally share their feelings about their baby. Mothers with prenatal depression often feel intense guilt and shame in addition to their existing symptoms, which can cause the depression to compound.

How can a soon-to-be-mother cope with prenatal depression?

A mental health practitioner, OB/GYN or related medical professional would be the first step in seeking treatment for prenatal depression. There are several therapy modalities and medication options that are considered safe for pregnant women, especially because the benefits they bring outweigh any potential harm to mom or baby. Some mothers have also found success with lifestyle changes that incorporate mindfulness and self-care – including support groups, exercise, meditation, journaling and open communication with loved ones. Confiding in a partner or loved one can also help come to terms with the feelings that come along with prenatal depression, and may help give others insight on how to be there for mom. It is important to find a treatment or coping mechanism that works for the mom, and it is perfectly fine for her to decide that one method isn’t working for her. 

How can we raise awareness about prenatal depression?

Talking about prenatal depression is the best way to raise awareness among mothers, the medical community and our broader society. Pregnancy and motherhood can be an isolating experience, and mothers are often made to feel like they should be happy and grateful at all times because of their cute, perfect little baby. Depression, on its own, is also heavily stigmatized in some parts of the world and treatment is not always widely accessible. Because of this, parents can be afraid or hesitant to discuss feelings of depression during pregnancy or after childbirth. Due to a worldwide prevalence of prenatal depression, it is imperative that we facilitate open and honest conversations about its severity. A soon-to-be mother knowing that her own mom, friend or neighbor has experienced prenatal depression may be enough for them to know that they are not alone.

Pyramid Online Counseling is trained to treat prenatal depression in women of all ages, from all backgrounds. If you or your loved one might be suffering from prenatal depression, reach out to us today at (833) 525-3077 to learn more.

5 Creative and Unique Date Ideas for Parents that Won’t Break the Bank

Pyramid Online Counseling      Relationships  
Mother and father walking down a dirt road with their two small children

There are a million excuses to let date nights slide off the schedule. Too many couples find themselves feeling too busy, out of ideas, without a babysitter or exercising a tight budget. These are all valid reasons not to have extravagant date nights, but don’t let them keep you from investing in your relationship.

Having regular date nights is one of the best ways to keep a relationship healthy, romantic and exciting. There are dozens of ways to bolster your relationship without compromising finances or sucking up time. No need to be creative, either, the ideas are already planned out for you.

Check out these date ideas that cost little to no money and can be done at home or nearby, with or without kids.

Date ideas with kids

1. Plan a themed movie night

Choose a movie and make it into a special occasion by making the night themed around the film. First, match dinner and dessert to the movie. Have spaghetti and dog-bone shaped cookies when you watch Lady and the Tramp or a classic french dish (french fries count) with an elaborately set table before Beauty and the Beast.

Kids will love the extra special treat of a themed movie night and you and your partner will be able to kick back and relax.

2. Do an at-home spa

This date activity is great for self-care and to calm both kids and adults. Do an at-home spa day and have the kids run the show, pampering you from head to foot. They can do hairstyles, paint nails (for real or play pretend), and offer a back rub.

Use household items to make a massage extra fun – roll a tennis ball to enhance a back massage or make this three-ingredient slime for a soothing hand rub. Set the lights to low, light some candles and play calming music.

3. Have your kids play restaurant

You have to eat dinner anyway, you might as well make it fun. One of the easiest date ideas you can do in the comfort of your own home with no extra cost to you is to have your kids “play restaurant.” 

Have your kids design signs and menus, while you and your partner cook and plate the food. Your kids can even dress up as waiters and use accents. Have the kids serve dinner and then eat in another room. Older kids can light candles to make it more intimate. Splurge and tip your kids for excellent service.

Date ideas for just parents

1. Wine tour

Surprise your spouse with a homemade wine tour. This requires some set up in advance, but it’s a unique and creative stay-at-home date on the cheap. Keep your kids occupied with a movie while you and your loved one have a romantic date night.

To do this, you’ll want to buy a variety of wine and snacks. Pair them using this guide or make your own pairings. Type up little descriptions of the wine and cheeses, like you would hear at a wine tasting. Set them in places around the house or yard and dress up for the date. When your partner gets home, have him or her do a little scavenger hunt to find all the stops!

2. Have a dessert contest

A dessert contest is an easy, cheap and quick date night idea to spark some friendly competition. Use the ingredients you have at home and set a timer for the competition. Without using a recipe, make the best dessert you can in 20 minutes, or however long you decide.

Spice up the competition by going to a grocery store before. Set a budget ($5 will do) and a timer (a shorter time limit makes it more exciting) and choose some special ingredients for your dessert. Everything else in the kitchen is fair game but your partner can’t use your special ingredient. This date is fun and delicious.

3. Invest in your relationship

Your relationship with your loved one is one of the most important resources you have. The emotional support, affection and security that you have built is worth keeping strong even if it takes some unconventional, budget date nights. Restore the fun in your marriage and your whole family will benefit.

If you think your family has hit a slump and you need a little more than date ideas to boost your mental health, reach out to Pyramid Online Counseling. With your busy parenting schedule the thought may never have crossed your mind to start therapy, but with the convenience and ease of online counseling there’s no reason not to try it. Whether you’re interested in counseling for couples, families or individuals Pyramid Online Counseling can help. Call 833-525-3077 today to get started.