Mommy Mental Health

Your moods and health during and after pregnancy

Not So Happy Mother’s Day

Should I buy her chocolate?

Thousands of mothers will have a hard time enjoying Mother's Day this year due to postpartum depression. One in 7 new moms get hit with this disorder, and for this 15%, Mother's Day can be pretty tough. Most importantly, make sure she's getting good care from a therapist who specializes in postpartum depression. Although a depressed mom may not be able to enjoy much at all these days, her mood may pick up on Mother's Day when you take the following steps. Here are some tips to help the depressed mom in your life enjoy the day as much as possible:

DO NOT...
....buy her chocolates that come in a box. Most commercial chocolate candy will make her more depressed or anxious. After the initial lift in endorphins, she'll crash and become worse. It may set her up for craving more and more sweets in an attempt to lift her mood. That creates an unpleasant cycle of junk food eating, crashing, gaining weight, feeling worse about herself, and slowing down her recovery due to a variety of psychological and biochemical causes.

DO...
....provide nutritious food so her brain chemistry will be fed. She will recover much faster with proper nutrients in her body. Some dark chocolate without the caramel type of junk on it is fine.

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DO NOT...
....make plans for an event or excursion which will take a lot of energy on her part. Depression zaps energy, and she needs to have her life extra simple right now. Scheduling a trip to Disneyland will be too much and will overwhelm her even more.

DO...
...make a reservation at a special restaurant, hire a permanent housekeeper, set up regular care for her child(ren) so she can get regular time during the week to do things for herself. If the children are yours too, be on duty with them a few scheduled times during the week, every week. Your whole family will benefit.

DO NOT...
....buy her anything for the house or child(ren). This is not the time for the new microwave or jog stroller, even though she'll ultimately benefit.

DO...
....buy her a gift that she can use completely alone. Anything that will help her nurture herself is good. For instance, a special skin cream she loves, a massage or day spa appointment (you provide transportation), and an upbeat book complete with leisure time to read it.

DO NOT...
....buy her a plant that will take ongoing care (unless she's been asking for a plant). She already has her hands full, and any other living thing requiring her attention may push her over the edge!

DO...
....bring her beautifully scented roses. Roses provide lots of oxygen and can be quite healing.

DO NOT...
....have high expectations for her to have "fun." That will feel like pressure to her. You love her and want her to feel happy, and so does she. But if she can't, don't take it personally. That will make her feel guilty for disappointing you and letting you down.

DO...
....have realistic expectations. This means, enjoy the day as much as you can and accept the fact that she's doing her best to enjoy it too. Keep the attitude of, "she's doing the best she can and she's looking forward to feeling better and better. I'm glad I'm showing her how much I love her."

Dr. Shoshana is a psychologist who treats women with prenatal and postpartum depression. She is the author of a number of books on postpartum depression including, Postpartum Depression for Dummies. Her most recent book, Pregnant on Prozac, is available on Amazon.com. Dr. Shoshana can be contacted through her website, http://DrShosh.com.

Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist focusing on moods, pregnancy, and postpartum depression.

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