Nearly one in five adults struggle with a mental illness. Yet, less than half of them receive mental health services. Whether they don’t want to ask for help or simply can’t afford to, more than 50 million Americans suffer in silence every day. Unfortunately, the most at-risk demographic is women between the ages of 18 and 25, followed closely by women ages 26 to 49. Add a baby to the mix and mothers are sure to be one of the most likely groups to develop a mental illness.
Sadly, most parents are completely oblivious to — or in denial of — their own struggles. While that may seem like a harsh statement, any mother who loves her kids will see evidence of this dilemma in her own life. After all, when a mom’s life revolves around their children, she doesn’t have much time to care for herself. It’s only natural that their mental and physical well-being would suffer.
Therefore, whether you think you need to go to therapy or not, you probably should book an appointment. Need some more convincing? Here are a few reasons why you could use — and benefit from — talking to a professional.
Parenthood Is a Shock
You know better than anyone that being pregnant is a huge adjustment, but you had months to figure it out. Then, all of a sudden, you become a mother. One second your baby is inside you. The next second, they’re earth side where a nurse promptly places them in your arms. The instantaneousness of motherhood is a shock, to say the least, and nothing could possibly have prepared you for it.
Yet, everyone expects you to immediately fall in love with your baby and know exactly what to do from this point on. These unrealistic expectations will only add to your stress and anxiety as you bring your newborn home.
During your most stressful and confusing moments, it’s nice to have a therapist to process your thoughts and feelings. They’ll remind you that your emotions are valid and completely normal, especially as a new mom.
Therapy Can Provide Accountability
Going to therapy or connecting with a therapist on a regular basis can also provide accountability during a period when major life changes make it all too easy to forget about self-care. Let’s face it, you probably aren’t prioritizing exercise, hot baths and nutrition when you have a helpless newborn in the house.
However, the only way to stay sane in the midst of motherhood mayhem is to take care of yourself.
A therapist will make sure you’re doing just that by asking you pointed questions during each session. How did you incorporate self-care into your routine this week? How long has it been since you spent 10 minutes alone?
They’ll help keep you accountable and recommend other activities like yoga and meditation, which can encourage a more holistic approach to healing.
Baby Blues and PPD Are Common
Seventy to 80% of women will experience baby blues or postpartum depression in the months following childbirth. Meanwhile, women with a history of depression, anxiety and mood disorders are 30% to 35% more likely to develop postpartum depression.
Unfortunately, many of these women don’t seek help and their relationship with their child suffers as a result.
If you have access to a therapist, however, you don’t have to wait to receive treatment. While it may be difficult to discuss your paranoia, anxiety and depression, giving them a voice will help you recover quicker.
Plus, sharing your darkest thoughts and knowing that others have felt the same way will remind you that you aren’t alone, which is one of the most important lessons you can learn by going to therapy.
It Sets a Good Example
Of course, you should go to therapy for your own benefit. However, attending sessions with a mental health professional will also set a good example for your little one.
Eventually, they’ll notice you taking time for yourself and attending sessions. When they do, you can discuss the power of thoughts and emotions and explain that it’s OK to ask for help. This way, they’ll be more apt to do the same as they grow into an adult.
Going to therapy and prioritizing self-care in other ways will also teach your little one the importance of cultivating a healthy work-life balance and investing in yourself. They’ll learn that doing so isn’t selfish, but necessary to their overall wellbeing, which will inevitably encourage them to practice self-care, too.
Your Mental Health Matters
Just because you’re responsible for another human life doesn’t mean yours doesn’t count. In fact, your mental and physical wellbeing are just as important now as they were before having children — if not more so. After all, you can’t be the best mom you can be until you prioritize your own health, so give therapy a try. Remember, your mental health matters and so do you!
The sooner you realize that the sooner you can get back to being a mom and enjoying every second of it.