Anxiety, Depression and the Everyday Mom

Provided by Teresa in January 2014. Teresa assures that this image came from Microsoft Clip Art. This image was used in the old blog

There has recently been an upswing in publicity around mothers who admit to taking anxiety and depression medication to cope with the stress of being a mother. I understand that most people who aren’t mental health professionals would be quick to judge a statement such as, “Medication makes me a better mom.”

Everyone needs to develop appropriate coping skills, but sometimes coping skills aren’t enough, at least not exclusively. Demonizing the appropriate use of medication for mental health issues does a disservice to women and mothers. It takes us back to the 1950s, when mental health and medical issues in women were largely minimized or disregarded.

Being a mom is a difficult thing. If it was easy, I wouldn’t see so many in the course of my practice. They come in overwhelmed, over-scheduled and overloaded. Sometimes they have symptoms significant enough for me to recommend they see their doctor or a psychiatrist. Below is a summary of symptoms from the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR).
Sorting through these symptoms and developing coping of any kind, including the use of medical intervention, is the key to getting a client’s life back on track.

Anxiety Symptoms:

  • Feelings of excessive anxiety or worry for more days than not for at
    least six months
  • The worry is related to a variety of life events or activities
  • It’s difficult to control the worry
  • Feelings of restlessness or agitation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Being “keyed up” or “on edge”
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or frequent waking
Please consult your physician if you experience at least three of these symptoms and the worry or symptoms cause significant distress in important life areas (work, home, social situations). These are real symptoms and should be addressed, especially if they have lasted most days for more than six months.

Depression Symptoms:

  • Feeling sad or empty most of the day, nearly daily
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities
  • Significant change in appetite or weight fluctuations
  • Sleep changes, such as sleeping too much or experiencing insomnia
  • Feelings of restlessness or agitation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Loss of hope
  • Thoughts of death or dying – with or without a plan
In order to be diagnosed with depression, an individual must have at least five of the symptoms, every day for most of the day, for at least two weeks. More than one two-week episode over a two-month period would be significant enough to tell your practitioner, as well. Depression & Anxiety can be more common after a significant life change such as divorce, job loss/change. Risk factors also coping with a major medical condition or post-pregnancy.
Don’t discount the symptoms listed as just “Motherhood.” Learning appropriate coping skills, with or without medication, will help you feel less overwhelmed, more in control of your emotional state and better able to cope with the stressors of everyday life as a mom. You’re not alone, you’re not a “bad mom” and you’re not going to just magically improve without support. Take a moment away from taking care of everyone and everything else to take care of yourself. It’ll make all the difference in your family, your relationship and your life. It’s like getting yourself back. The one you used to know, or even meeting the person you should be.

Get help today

Teresa provides therapy for anxiety and depression to parents and individuals. To make an appointment, call now, or just fill out the form and click Send.