Post-Partum Depression vs. Baby Blues - Baby blues are normal, best described as a feeling of emotionality, weepiness, or sensitivity in the immediate days following a baby's birth. These feelings are normal, as many women feel a let-down of their lengthy pregnancy combined with expectations, either realized or unrealized. Post-partum depression is different and more severe....characterized by a feeling of disconnectedness from baby, thoughts such as, "I cannot care for this baby" or "someone else is better equipped to take care of my newborn." Thoughts may also be compulsive and repetitive, with intrusive worries that baby may be harmed by her or someone else. If a woman is a new mom, or expecting a child, and has a prior history of depression, it is worthwhile to discuss these concerns with a therapist during pregnancy or in the days following baby's birth for close monitoring with a skilled therapist.
For women struggling with a high-risk pregnancy or bedrest, Christina suggests that you seek additional guidance and support through http://www.sidelines.org/.
Click here to purchase Medications and Mothers' Milk 2012, by Dr. Thomas Hale, for expert medication advice during pregnancy and lactation.
Fertility -Many women are currently entering therapy for issues specifically related to infertility. If you are a women attempting to conceive or experiencing painful feelings around that topic, it is quite helpful to verbalize the experience to a neutral or third party. Marriages become strained if the fertility process carries on for a lengthy period of time. If you and your partner are discussing adoption as an alternative, counseling can offer a valuable place in that process.
Menopause - Hormonal and psychological shifts in a woman that often result in emotional changes such as an inability to concentrate, irritability and tearfulness. Physical changes include dry skin, hair loss, and night sweats. With your therapist, a new way of viewing this delicate life stage can be very helpful---what changes need to be made? Who can support the new you? What are your unrealized goals?
Lack of Physical Intimacy - A common complaint of women entering therapy is the lack of desire for their partner. Sexual activity in a loving relationship is good for you! Chemical releases in the brain and body are anti-aging and invigorating. Yet, men and women approach the solution to this problem differently. Men want intimacy to feel connected and women must have a connection to be intimate - what a dilemma! Begin to quietly identify the reasons for your physical estrangement from your partner (fatigue, schedules, resentment, opposing bedtimes, vaginal dryness). From here, honestly assess the consequences of physical distance and lack of intimacy with your partner (yes, it matters!). Couples therapy is helpful to couples from all angles (improved communication, behavioral changes, greater understanding for our differences) but it can greatly improve the physical relationship. Each partner must be somewhat willing to discuss the current deficits in the marital bed, but this sensitive dialogue may take place privately between you and your therapist. Many women avoid all physical connection (kisses, hugs, hand-holding, neck rubs) because they fear that it will arouse their partner and create imminent sexual obligation. Men are often unaware that, for his wife, the “intimate act” begins a day or two before the romance actually takes place. In other words, foreplay is about a woman feeling loved, appreciated, listened to, and cherished – these emotions of love create physical longing and a desire to please. Husbands typically respond well to learning what is required – “just tell me what to do and I’ll do it. I want to please my wife,” are sentiments expressed by most men – but women are typically uncomfortable telling their partner what feels good. It may be easier to say something like this: “I’d like to feel really connected to you tonight when we make love, so I’ll go out on a limb and let you know that I need you to do this for five minutes, then such-and-such and for five minutes. I’d like to make this a special experience.” This wording will have a powerful impact and your partner will be thrilled and excited already! Remember, he really wants to please you because it makes him feel loved and special to bring you pleasure. Some terrific ways that women can re-ignite their physical desire include reading gentle and loving female erotica (a hugely popular genre today!) either alone or out loud with your partner. If your physical relationship is severely strained, begin with asking your partner to simply lay naked with you a few minutes at the end of the day, for several consecutive evenings, without any permission to move on to sexual touching (this therapeutic approach can be specifically instructed by your counselor). These are just a few ideas – seek counseling for improved marital pleasure. Avoiding, ignoring or denying the reality of poor intimacy gets worse over time, not better.
Sexual Abuse - Childhood abuse is a common reason to seek therapy. While psychological trauma and pain may have been addressed therapeutically in the past, many women return to therapy throughout the normal changes in their life. Prior experiences can be healed but rarely forgotten; often cropping up during the transitions of our life. Incest is a specific form of sexual abuse that is perpetrated by an adult against a child within his or her family. The family connection does not necessarily need to be biological to be considered incest, for example, a step-father would qualify as a father figure because of his "role" in the family and sexual abuse against his step-child would be considered incestuous, a serious breach of trust, making this trauma especially egregious. Incest often repeats itself throughout generations. Seeking counseling is a powerful way to break the chain of painful abuse.
Rape - Rape is the forceful and coercive sexual assault of another person against their will. The act may result in sexual or anal intercourse. Date rape is the sexual assault of a person by a "friend" or acquaintance. If the victim is not fully conscious or is unable to say no, the act is considered forceful and non-consensual. Your calls are anonymous and the decision to press charges against the aggressor is completely the choice of the victim (if the victim is over 18 years of age).
Domestic Violence - A violent partner is motivated by power and control (either a boyfriend, same-sex partner, or spouse). Domestic violence is the physical, psychological of one's partner. Red flags of danger in a relationship are possessiveness, jealousy, demeaning language, name-calling, snooping, stalking, and isolation from relatives and friends. Domestic violence may also include sexual degradation - creating deep shame in the victimized partner - and financial dependency. "Love doesn't hurt" is a popular slogan that gently reminds us to consider what feelings our partner arouses in us. Does my partner encourage me to feel confident and loved in the world at large? Or, do I feel diminished, afraid, and belittled? Intimate partner violence occurs across all social, economic, and cultural populations. Terminating the destructive relationship is a process that may require several "leavings" before it finally ends.
Caretaker/Compassion Fatigue - For those women caring for others, life can begin to feel draining and dissatisfying. In our current society, many of us are caring for children, grandchildren, and parents! No wonder life begins to feel too hard and daunting. Compassion fatigue is the "burn out" factor that leads to clinical depression and feelings of hopelessness. Counseling is an excellent way to recharge your batteries, increase met needs, draw boundaries that prevent further exhaustion, and bring joy back to daily tasks.
Lifestyle Change: New roles (motherhood, marriage, launching of children, divorce, miscarriage) or new experiences can shake our very foundation...the framework from which we perceive our lives, its' meaning, our accomplishments and failures. Even changes that "should" feel terrific often plunge us into confusion, doubt, sadness or regret. Therapy is a simple process of reviewing, with a kind perspective, our past choices, as well as choices that need to be made. It is not the therapist's job to make decisions for you, but instead, to assist you in finding the right words to express yourself or provide a new perspective.
Sarah's Waterfall - New book recommendation for sexual abuse survivors
Paid Family Leave Can Help Ease Impacts of Budget Cuts for Workers with Seriously Ill Family Members!
Please let others know that:
- Paid Family Leave may be taken intermittently. For example, a worker can take PFL two days per week to provide care for a family member with a serious health condition! The PFL law does not have a minimum number of days or even hours - just a maximum of 6 weeks per year, which can be spread out over one year.
- Paid Family Leave may be used while a worker directly provides care or makes arrangements for a third party to provide care for a family member with a serious health condition.
- Paid Family Leave is employee-funded from deductions that have already been taken from workers paychecks, making it that much more important that workers know their Paid Family Leave rights!
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Copyright of Christina Neumeyer, 2017