Postpartum Depression In New Moms Essay


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Postpartum Depression

Becoming a new mother can be a very overwhelming experience for some women and the symptoms of postpartum depression that follow birth can confuse and deject them. It is important that women receive the therapeutic help they need in these situations. This paper will discuss the symptoms and causes of postpartum depression, how a counselor can develop strategies to work with clients experiencing postpartum depression, how a counselor can build rapport, barriers to care, and psychological interventions the counselor can use to treat the client.

Symptoms and Causes

Symptoms of postpartum depression for new mothers include a range of signs that can go from mild to extreme. On the mild end of the scale one may experience mood swings, anxiety, sadness, irritability, feelings of being overwhelmed, crying, inability to concentrate, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping (Mayo Clinic, 2020). These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks—but one thing to remember is that a mother’s hormones are rebalancing now that the baby has been delivered, so post-pregnancy hormonal changes could contribute to these symptoms occurring (Baka et al., 2017). Therefore, it is not uncommon for symptoms of postpartum depression to go away on their own after a few days or weeks as the mother’s body achieves a more balanced hormonal state.

However, on the more severe scale of postpartum depression, a new mother can experience far worse symptoms that do not go away on their own. Postpartum depression can end up interfering with the new mother’s ability to care for the new baby and can consist of excessive crying, prolonged depressed mood, severe mood swings, difficulty bonding with the baby, withdrawal, loss of appetite, insomnia, loss of pleasure in old routine activities, intense anger, despair, self-harm or murderous or suicidal ideation (Ko, Rockhill, Tong, Morrow & Farr, 2017).

If these symptoms do not begin to fade after two weeks (at which point the body’s hormones should be more balanced out), one should see a doctor; if the symptoms worsen or impair the new mother’s ability to care for the baby, one should see a doctor (Mayo Clinic, 2020). However, in many cases the cause of postpartum depression will go away as the hormone levels rebalance and the new mother gets more used to the emotional and physical toll that caring for an infant brings. Physical changes and emotional changes are simply part of the process of becoming a new mother, and one way that counselors can help new mothers to overcome postpartum depression is by helping them to see that they are now on a new journey and that there are steps they can take to prepare themselves mentally, emotionally and physically for successfully navigating that next step in their lives. Lack of preparation and awareness of what to expect with being a new mother can contribute to the onset of postpartum depression, and it is important to have a strong support network in place if postpartum issues persist after two weeks so that the mother’s and the child’s life are not endangered and an intervention can be made.

How a Counselor Can Develop Strategies to Work with Individuals

Developing strategies to work with individuals is an important step for treating clients with postpartum depression. One strategy to use is to maintain a sense of one’s professional role at all times so that the counselor does not become personally involved in the client’s life. That professional distance has to be maintained both for the good of the client and the counselor (American Psychological Association, 2002). It also allows the counselor to maintain an objective focus on the client’s issues and not lose sight of them by falling prey to subjective experiences and feelings.

Another strategy is to stay connected to oneself and to block out beliefs that can get in the way of active and effective counseling (Firman, 2009). Counseling can be a grueling exercise that can cause one to question one’s own motives, one’s ability to counsel effectively, and one’s commitment to the calling. However, counseling is a vocation and one who is called to it must remember to stay connected to that place in one’s self that has heard and responded to that call....…or sort through their emotions and thoughts in an objective enough way to identify the problem areas. Cognitive behavioral therapy requires an ability on the client’s part to be able to take a good, hard, objective and honest look at oneself. Not every client is equipped with the tools to do that, so interpersonal therapy can be a way for the counselor to step in and guide the process of healing in a more hands-on and directorial way.

Animal assisted therapy is another psychological intervention that has been found to help people with depression and introducing an emotional support animal into an environment where a new mother is feeling overwhelmed by a new baby can be a way to help the new mother. Emotional support animals require no training but they can help to alter the brain chemistry of a woman going through postpartum depression. Spending time with an emotional support animal can increase levels of serotonin in the brain, as well as oxytocin and prolactin. Some animals can know when the new mother is feeling down and can try to engage with the person to get them feeling more active and engaged. These animals can also help the new mother to feel not so alone. A new baby can be very demanding and without another sympathetic creature in her life the new mother can feel isolated—but using animal assisted therapy can help to overcome those feelings (Badr & Zauszniewski, 2017).


In conclusion, new mothers may experience postpartum depression symptoms for up to two weeks before they begin to decline on their own just because of the newness of the emotional experience and the fact that the body’s hormone levels are rebalancing. However, for individuals who experience severe postpartum depression or whose symptoms increase and impair the mother’s ability to care for the infant or last longer than two weeks, an intervention may be needed. Cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy and animal assisted therapy can all be useful interventions, but at the end of the day the best experience for the client is to have a strong relationship with the counselor so that a relationship…

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