Karen Kleiman MSW, LCSW

This Isn't What I Expected

6 Signs You Might Want to Call a Therapist

Self-help is great. It may not always be enough.

Posted Jun 27, 2015

Source: morguefile.com

You’ve been diagnosed with postpartum depression or anxiety.

And while you are not happy about that, you are doing what you need to do to get better. You may or may not be taking medication. You are doing your best to rest and take care of yourself. You are taking good care of your baby and accepting help from others. You have a great support system and feel confident that, in time, you will get better.

Still, people who care about you are telling you it would be helpful if you found a therapist who specializes in the treatment of PPD. While you aren’t totally opposed to this, you are not sure if it would be helpful or if you should spend the time/money. You may or may not be familiar or comfortable with a therapeutic relationship and are not convinced it can really help at this point.

Sign #1. Others are telling you to call a therapist

Sometimes, those closest to you might notice that things are not right before you do. This is common. It’s a little bit about denial. It’s more about clarity and the fog that descends when depression is present.

Depression can make it difficult to see clearly or be objective about your experience. 

People who love you may be in a better position right now to see what you are unable to see.

Sign #2. You feel overwhelmed and find it challenging to get through the day the way you are used to 

You might hope this will get better on its own or with self-help strategies.

Paradoxically, the more you do, the more impossible things feel.

The more you rest, the more you feel guilty.  

The more you ask for help, the more inadequate you feel.

The more support you receive, the more isolated you feel.

It seems you can’t win no matter how hard you try.

Sign #3. Your marriage feels extremely strained

Your greatest source of comfort and support suddenly feels agitated and less available.

It feels unbearably lonely.

No one understands.

Sign #4. You worry and talk about the same things over and over and wonder if you are wearing your family and friends out

One hallmark feature of PPD is obsessive thinking and excessive worry. On the one hand, it feels like a natural part of new mothering. Worrying definitely comes with the territory.

But how much is too much?

How can you tell if the extent to which you are worrying is okay? Or too much? Or problematic?

Do you feel self-conscious or defensive about asking so many questions, implementing so many rules, or comparing yourself to the way others are doing things?

Sign #5. You repeatedly find yourself wondering if you should call a therapist

Depressive thinking can inhibit help-seeking behaviors.

Sometimes, continual and recurrent questioning can actually be depressive ruminations.

If the subject of these ruminations is curiosity about the value of therapy, it may be your tired brain asking for help. Pay attention to this.

Sign #6. Your symptoms of anxiety, sadness, guilt, worry, irritability, sleeplessness, hopelessness or obsessive thinking are not getting better

Whether or not you are taking medication, and whether or not you are following all the self-help advice from your healthcare provider, it may not be enough.

If you find your symptoms are lingering or continue to impede functioning, it is not okay to continue to suffer. 

Therapy can help minimize the impact of depressive and anxiety symptoms.

To find a therapist who specializes in postpartum anxiety and depression, check out these resources:

The Postpartum Stress Center Clinician Referral List (statewide and international)

Postpartum Support International (statewide and international)