Articles on clinical mental health counseling

How Does Talk Therapy or Counseling Work?

Ms. Sneha Bhat, Psychologist
Each one of us is born with a body and mind. Here mind is the software which is the driver while body is the hardware or machine. We can readily notice the changes in our body as we grow. Our mind also is being shaped in parallel. The units which represent our mind are our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, behaviour & attitude. We aren't simply born with all these but build them as we grow. Our brain is being wired continuously by the way we interpret situations.We tend to believe that the way our mind operates is out of our control. We also believe in the possibility of manipulating it to function in the way we want by using some medication. However we fail to see how in the world talk therapy can help. Most important thing we need to realize here is that brain is not just matter & it's going through continuous alteration with every single moment. It's being wired and rewired by us through our own thoughts, emotions, attitude & behaviour. It's absolutely in our control to architect our brain if we can understand it's current wiring and possible ways to rewire it. This is exactly what happens during Talk Therapy. A professional helps you understand the current wiring of your brain and also aids in the process of rewiring it in the way you want. Talk Therapy gives you better insight and mastery over your life, through your own mind.Who all can benefit from Counseling.?Anyone who wants to understand the manager called mind better and start using it exactly the way he/she likes, would benefit from counseling. It can help one deal with emotions better, to act intentionally & to stop ruminating and start thinking. It helps one create a better life from exactly where he/she stands whether it be with personal satisfaction, professional growth or relational fulfilment. We are social animals with the basic needs of an animal along with the need for acceptance from self and others. We also are progressive individuals, who wish to be intentional in our thoughts, emotions & actions. Counseling helps us cater effectively to both. It is not just about handling illness or disorder but also about creating prosperity or wellness.Why do we Crave for Love, Caring and Understanding..?We were born hear as feeble creatures whose existence and survival was a matter of love and care others showed towards us. As we grew up we gained the capacity to care for ourselves however within us somewhere is that child who continuously craves for  caring, love, understanding and acceptance. On one hand we wish for the independence which would free us towards eternal pleasure and on the other hand are scared of the anticipated and experienced pain of being disconnected from others. In this run of life balanced by the eternal forces of freedom and responsibilities, individuality & connectedness, what i want & what is accepted, security & variety,  belonging &  significance; there come several moments where we experience the stuck feeling. It is as if we have reached the dead-end and there is no turning back.Beyond the dead ends...Most of us admit to be in this place many a times. We usually manage to cross the hurdle and take the path of hope which was nowhere in the vicinity to begin with. The step ahead becomes evident when we view the situation, our own current perspective as well as many other overlooked possibilities from a vantage point and alter our perspective to grow with the situations rather than be beaten up by it or left behind. This transformation happens if we are willing to lend an ear to ourselves deeply & thoroughly or find another person who can listen & understand us. Who could be this person..? It could be anyone including life partner, friend or a relative.Why do we hesitate to hold a hand..??What usually happens before we turn to another person..?? We are scared. We rarely trust someone enough to open up without any barriers. We are scared about being judged by other person when we show our sensitive side. There is a turmoil in our mind. What if other person takes advantage of me? What if other person shows sympathy rather than understanding my perspective? Again,what about those feelings and thoughts of us, we ourselves do not understand, cannot control and dare not disclose even to ourselves.?Taking that step....conquering Pain towards ProgressWell, what about the constant craving for more, the progress..!! Taking that step we always wanted however has not managed so far. How about the possibility to have that dream job, soaring health, fulfilling relationships, mesmerizing personality? How about adding more life to those moments..?? Isn’t it good if we could have a person around who truly cares and understands us and walks with us, in our journey of overcoming pain or personal advancement till we are ready..?? All the more good if the person is a professional who would neither judge us nor take advantage of us in any way. This person who would disappear in thin air once we are ready, leaving only the traces of endearing memories and the stronger us, all prepared to take the bull by its horns.Psychological Counselings or Talk Therapy is about understanding the way one's mind is shaped and providing unconditional support  in reshaping it intentionally. Here one explores different areas of his/her life together with a professional to understand the bricks which have shaped him/her, hence being enabled to think, feel and act in the way which perfectly balances the individuality with togetherness and freedom with responsibility to build a satisfactory life for oneself. In a couple or family counselings the attention shifts from individual to the relational unit. In every case Talk therapy holds a promise for self-empowerment & conscious living through the means we consider too simplistic to trust, Talking ..!!Reprinted from http://www.beyondrandomness.com/counseling-coaching-therapy.htmlPhoto Credit : http://images.wisegeek.com/two-women-on-couch-talking.jpg

Busting Common Counseling Myths!

Ms. Damini Grover, Psychologist
Of course we know what Counseling and Therapy is...right? That's why we end up making fun of people who may need help at some point. That's why, we conveniently put our guards up when someone says we might need help. I mean we have to be 'mad', 'crazy', 'unstable', 'psycho'  to get help. 'Normal' people don't need help. They are almost like superheros- can handle everything-anytime-anywhere. If that was the case, the concept of therapy wouldn't have existed at all.But the fact is, that therapy and counseling exist and that too as a profession. There are people who spend a major chunk of their lives studying to become therapists. It's not because they couldn't find anything to do. Rather, they are doing this, because they realise the importance of well-being and they want to help as many people as possible in leading a good quality life.Life is moving so fast that we don't even realize that we are getting caught up in a web. A web consisting of demands, commitments, responsibilities; and a multitude of events that constitute our daily routine. Without any conscious effort, we start hoarding of a lot of unwanted and unwelcome thoughts, emotions and actions. These in turn, give rise to many pertinent issues like stress, anxiety, sleeplessness and mood swings, aches and pains and many other health issues. These days, health issues are almost becoming our second nature. We all are aware of this fact. Yet, reluctant to change it.And for some strange reason, we find it easier to take medicines than to actually make the effort of solving our problems. Yes, times have changed and more and more we are realising the importance of this profession called ‘Counselling’. However, we all still operate under some fundamental misconceptions about it. Here are some common facts and myths about Counselling that we all must know. So that, if and when the need arises, we can make an informed choice of approaching a counselor and seeking help.Mental health is as important as physical health for our well-being: When things don’t go our way, it’s very natural to go through a gamut of negative emotions. However, a healthy mental condition allows us to evaluate our situations and problems objectively and enables effective problem-solving and decision making. Sometimes, prolonged or severe acute stressors can create a whirlpool within us. Thus, giving rise to sleep difficulty, anxiety, excessive anger, irritation etc. When we find ourselves unable to handle our daily functioning effectively, it is an indication that we need help. It is the same as going to a doctor when we experience some physical symptoms. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be ‘mad’ to seek counselling or therapy: Counselors function much like doctors-they listen to your symptoms,diagnose what the problem and the source is. But instead of giving medicines, they help us to explore the issues from different perspectives, until we arrive at a feasible solution. You can be stressed or anxious over your job, family issues, relationship problems, emotional set backs etc. and you can still seek the help of a counselor, who is trained to help you cope better.Counselling does not make you ‘weak’: Going to a Counselor, discussing your issues and inner most feelings does not certify one as ‘weak’!If anything it does, is widen our thought process to include different understandings of a particular event. It enables us to vent out our emotions. This is can be termed as ‘emotional cleansing’ or ‘catharsis’ which makes us feel relaxed. But, the most important thing it does, is to ‘empower’ us so that we can handle our thoughts, emotions and actions better. Talking to friends and family members is not a substitute to Counselling : Yes, we must share our thoughts and emotions with our loved ones. We all have that one person who is our best friend, our confidante. Yet, when going through a difficult phase (internally or externally), sometimes it’s not enough. Simply, because when we talk to people close to us, we are listening to their opinions, ideas and judgments. Sometimes, a situation demands much more than just an opinion. What works for one person, may not work for someone else. Situations and problems require an objective, unbiased view of what’s going on and the possible solutions available. Someone may be losing sleep over an irrational fear of something, while someone may be anxious about a future occurrence. A counselor is a trained professional, who helps you to objectively evaluate and solve an issue because the solution lies within us.What if other people find out?: Well, Counselling is based on mutual trust and confidentiality. As an ethical practice, counselors do not discuss client’s information with other people. It is only in special cases where there is a potential risk involved, that a Counselor will feel the need to inform other relevant people.How can I talk to a stranger?: Wasn't your best friend initially a stranger? The fact is, that most of our relations outside of our families, started off with a level of unfamiliarity. It is the unfamiliarity that creates space for objectivity and facilitates free-flow of thought. Doesn't it feel nice to just let your heart do the talking, without worrying about what the other person is thinking about us? In times like now, don’t we just want to be heard and not talked to all the time? Having an hour or two, just to ourselves..Isn't that what we all want? Counselling is expensive!: So are all the luxury items that we spoil ourselves with! It may seem like the counselor does nothing except listen to our rants. But that is his /her actual job! He/She listens so that he can get an in-depth understanding of what’s going on within us. A counselor invests a lot of time and energy on every individual client. Thus, he/she charges the amount that he/she thinks is feasible.Counselor only talks or listens and does nothing!: The fact of the matter is,that Counselors and therapists invest a lot of time and money in getting trained. It's a profession that requires interaction! And not just that, it employs many kinds of therapies and techniques. It's all about finding yourself, placing the pieces of this puzzle called life- together! And yes, he/she does listen! That's one of the ways to know what's going on inside us! And then, there are those times when always crib that 'we have no one who listens to us!' Counselling is life-long: Well, if you end up establishing a good rapport, then why not! After all, we all have people whom we call our ‘guides’ or ‘mentors’ and they are there to guide us all along! But, Counseling involves a lot of time and effort from the Client and the Counselor. Depending on the nature of the issue and the need of the client, Counseling can be long term or short term. Counselling does not provide you with tailor-made solutions or fixes!: It is a guided self-exploration process. And we all know, how complicated our inner and outer lives are! Just like we can get stressed over many things; there are many solutions to problems. Sometimes, it takes a long time to find the solution. Sometimes, it comes to us in a flash! The idea behind counselling is, to keep exploring, till we find the solution that fits best without losing our mind!Counselling is magic!: Yes, it is! If, we have the will to work for our own betterment. Just by sitting in a Counselling session, our problems won’t vanish. It requires focus and commitment to our own self. Only then will the sessions be effective. Counselors, therapists can only guide us to a better life. They cannot live our lives for us.The big question then is, when to approach a Counselor? The harsh reality is, that stress, anxiety, worry etc have all become intricately tied to our lives. We do manage to lead our versions of a normal life. However, when these issues begin to interfere in our daily functioning (unable to sleep well, anger, aggression, feeling low etc); when we are no longer able to cope with life's challenges and demands and need a reorientation; that's when we should seek help.And yes, Counselor and Psychiatrist is not the same! A Psychiatrist is a doctor. He gives medicines. A counselor is a different person and approach altogether.A little patience demanding and lengthy process in comparison. But, with long-term benefits! At the end of the day, Counseling, Therapy etc are professions - like all others!It is not a taboo. Rather, it's a resource that we can use to improve and empower our lives!Stay Healthy. Feel Good!

No Health Without Mental Health - Clinical Case

Dr. Amitabha Mukerji, Psychiatrist
This is the story of a 33 year old woman who was brought into the emergency room by her husband who found her to be undergoing what he described as “another cycle of depression”. She was a mother of two children and a stock analyst. Her husband noted that for the last 10 days she had no sleep and was moved to tears easily. He had also noticed that she had been reacting negatively to almost anything with the slightest provocation. Such “dark” periods had been occurring ever since the husband had known her, but its frequency had increased to six episodes in the past year alone. Each time, a few weeks after taking medicines, the woman would appear better. But during such phases, she would also have a tendency to consume alcohol and sleeping pills which seemed to worsen her symptoms.Recently, the husband was surprised to find his wife taking decisions and committing acts which were not only potentially risky but also contradictory to the woman’s innate nature. She had been actively working on risky ventures while neglecting her children and responsibilities at work, as she thought that her endeavours would make them very rich.Since her college days, the woman had been having phases of sadness interspersed with recurrent spells of sleeplessness, hyper alertness and unusually rapid speech. This had started right after her alcoholic father, whom she was very close to, had committed suicide. Her paternal grand-mother was also known to have suffered from “nervous breakdowns”.In the past, she had consulted a psychiatrist when she experienced a low phase and tried anti-depressant medication, as well as psychotherapy, but the fluctuations in her mood were deteriorating. A part of this could be because the woman was irregular in her visits to the doctor and in following the treatment advice. She would only visit her doctor during the low phases but never during the times of sleeplessness, irritability and restlessness which allowed her doctor limited scope evaluation and a lack of holistic view.During evaluation in the emergency room, the woman’s mood was angry and she was restless. She declared she was fine and wanted to be excused so that she could go home and attend to urgent work. She mentioned that she had the special ability to make predictions regarding the stock market suggesting inflated self-esteem, typically seen during an excited phase. Although she admitted that she was not getting any sleep, she denied that it was a “problem”. Her speech was rapid, pressured and difficult to interrupt. She refused to cooperate for any psychological testing and insisted that the whole thing was a miscommunication. Does this case seem to require a more detailed evaluation?i) Have you seen this kind of person around you?ii) What you think about it? Is it a psychiatric problem which needs treatment?iii) Is it a normal variation of mood and behaviour?iv) Possible diagnosis?

Clinical Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist, Who Should You See?

Ms. Aarathi Selvan, Psychologist
Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists often work together to ensure the mental health and well-being of a client is taken care of. While their job descriptions often overlap, there are many crucial differences between a psychologist and psychiatrist. The most important difference is the nature of treatment within the two professions. Treatment differences between Psychologist and Psychiatrist:PsychiatristA psychiatrist is a trained medical doctor. In India, a psychiatrist completes MBBS degree and additional gets trained in psychiatry at a post graduate level. Psychiatrists prescribe medication for mental illnesses like Major depressive disorder, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,  Anxiety Disorder and more. They spend much of their time on medication management as the primary course of treatment. Psychiatrists are medical doctors first. Most of them do not have additional training in counselling or talk therapy as a clinical psychologist. It is important to understand this: I have had several clients reach out to me and express that when they went to a psychiatrist, the doctor did not spend time listening to their deeper issues which lead them to the mental illness (like depression/anxiety,etc). Psychiatrists focus on the presenting symptoms of the patient. In conditions where the mental illness is severe and basic self care is impossible, taking medications to stabilize becomes necessary. They are not trained as clinical psychologists to approach mental illness with talk therapy.Clinical PsychologistIn India, clinical psychologists have a license by the Rehabilitation Council of India to practice professionally. They typically have a Bachelors & Masters in Psychology and an MPhil in Clinical Psychology.  A PhD in clinical psychology/psychology is not a licensing degree for practicing as a psychologist.Clinical Psychologists are trained to understand a variety of aspects of mental health and are also trained in different evidence based therapies to work with clients with mental illness or difficult life situations.Clients with severe mental illness will be concurrently seen by both Psychiatrists and Clinical Psychologist for best results. Often times clients/patients with less severe kinds of mental health problems don’t like to use medications, they’re afraid they’re going to get addicted. These clients are more likely to see a psychologist first.Clinical psychologists help clients learn different tools to help transform their attitudes, behaviours, thoughts and emotions into those that support optimal well-being. As opposed to a psychiatrist who may spend less than 15 minutes in medication management with a patient per session, clinical psychologists typically spends over an hour per session in working with the client. Clinical psychologist are additionally trained in Testing and Assessment, that helps in diagnosing clients with mental illness. Clinical psychologist also work with individuals with normal life issues that seem to cause stress, anxiety and depression.  Talk therapy is the most effective for clients in these situations.I am a National Certified Counselor in the US and a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in India with additional certifications in Evidence Based Therapies. If you are still wondering who you should see in therapy, get in touch with me to help you assess your situation and recommend to you the accurate form of therapy for your situation.

Today Is Mental Health day.use Intuitions and 6th Sense.

Dr. Neelam Nath Bhatia, General Physician
There is No person with 100% correct mental /physical health. Every test carried out in blood has a range. A person is labeled diseased only if the limits exceed normal range or fall below the rangeThere are 3 types of personalities according to Ayurveda.Type A is like Air , Flighty ,always on the go , multitasking ,and result oriented. Type A need not be physically active all the time to achieve their goals. A racing mind is also associated with type A personality. Creative people ,leaders , intellectuals are Type A and the world is dependent on Type A types because They are the Leaders.Type B is like Water, flowy but slowly , working but without much strain on body or mind & We can call them Cool !Type C is like Earth , steady, accepting , not keen or adventerous ,dependent ,ready to please or get pleased.It is a colorful world consisting of all of the 3 types of people.Be Careful of manipulative people who can read the mind and trap the person , knowing well his/her vulnerabilities , exploit them and label the supposedly 'weak ' person as Mad.Remember the programme- Kamzor Kadi Kaun ? ( Who is the Weakest in the link ?)Bottled up Stress can make any normal human behave like Mad.Every Mental Illness does not require Medicines . A good counsellor can do a wonderful job.Who is a good counsellor? An MD doctor, An MA Psychology or an elder in the family or a close friend?It can be any of the above. I am sure one retains some of 6th sense / intuition to know about whom to confide without getting exploited More to get really Mad.Stay away from medicines for anxiety if possible.If none of the above is available as in our country Mental Disease is still a tag , unlike other physical diseases like heart and lung disease or the ones the person is borne with.Start writing a diary about positives and negatives that has happened in life so far. Write a page daily. It is like cleansing our souls. Give a pat to self for good job done daily and a slap for being bad and nasty.One has to maintain both Physical and Mental Health & we take care of physical health by going for a walk /exercising /eating the right food etc. Similarly Mental Health needs to be Protected by each one of us through our own ways.Know yourself before knowing others and analyse self before being Judgemental.Social isolation can increase the risk of both cardiac and mental illness and sometimes it can be a Deliberate attempt to Isolate Seniors of family for Selfish purposes. Do Not Yield in. Remain connected with like minded people and do contribute to society like volunteering,mentoring,joining a civic club or scheduling outings with friends.Medicines should be the last resort of cure of mental disease for a person of any age, a mother can read her child and analyse the demands,adult child of same mother can be able to read the mind of mother. Never mind if child is settled well far away.Dementia or forgetfulness are 1st stages of routine mental illnesses and these are preventable by just doing simple Self Analysis.

7 Steps You Can Take for Mental Well-Being

Akshata Bhat, Psychiatrist
Take care of yourselfAs simple as it may sound, the mere act of taking care of you is the first step to good mental health. Eat healthy, exercise and get adequate sleep every day. These are the building blocks to good physical health, which translate into mental well-being.Prioritize It is not possible to do everything. The constant effort to do so creates unrealistic expectations. It eventually results in disappointment. Life is too short to waste on unnecessary things, so figure out what your priorities are and focus on them.Invest in yourselfEnvision yourself as a company set up and funded by you. Whatever you invest, you will get the returns accordingly. Give yourself the best; whether it is moral support, top notch grooming or courses to equip you with skills in the field of your choice. Hold nothing back when it comes to you.Let it goHolding on to anything, be it anger, pain, jealousy, failing relationships, dead end jobs or toxic friends will only bring you unhappiness. Let it go. Cut the cord. Break the cycle. Letting go will make you receptive to newer and better opportunities in your life.Take a breakGetting caught up in the daily grind leave you with little time for yourself. Your mind and body need to recharge from time to time. Take time out for yourself everyday to do something you enjoy. ‘Me’ time will help you relax, and motivate you to meet your daily challenges.Be ridiculousLaughing helps to reduce stress and is an instant mood elevator. Having a good sense of humor helps you see the bright side in difficult situations. It makes you optimistic and hopeful. Humor is also a very attractive quality, and it will draw people towards you.Ask for helpOften people feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness; or that by doing so, it lowers your prestige. Thus, even in very tough times, we tend not to ask for help and try to handle everything by ourselves. The truth is that it takes immense courage to admit that you need help, and there is nothing wrong in asking for it.

Mental illness, Time to Talk About It!

Dr. Anamay K. Bidwai, General Physician
Today is mental illness day.Incidences of mental illness are going up in India, a recent study shows that every fourth Indian might be having some symptom or might have had some symptoms like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias etc.The reason for increase in the number of patients with mental illness is change in life style, increasing day to day stress, break down of joint family structure resulting in less moral support.Another reason is increasing awareness about mental illness, more and more people are coming out to get treated, more and more are being diagnosed, so those who were hiding their disease and suffering in silence are now getting treatment and enjoying better quality of life.Mental illness has been the taboo associated with it, time has come that we understand that brain too is an organ like any other organ like heart, liver or kidney.So if heart, liver, kidney can develop malfunction why not brain? Like other organs brain too might have some problem, like heart, liver, kidney diseases, even brain can be treated with medicines and other measures.There is nothing wrong if you have depression or anxiety, talk to your family members or close friends about it, see a psychiatrist, if you neglect your problem it will only increase with time.There was a time when any one who went to a psychiatrist was considered " pagal" or " mad", it is not so any more, we must remove the taboo created around mental illness and accept it as any other health issue.Many great people who had mental health issues like schizophrenia, dyslexia, autism, bipolar disorder, organic depression have gone on to win noble prizes, have made great inventions, gone to become heads of states, all this because they got treated in time, used their will power to come over the problem and made best use of their potential.If you suffer from loss of sleep, unexplained loss of weight, loss of apatite, urge to remain alone all time, loss of interest in work, loss of interest in sex, mood swings, anxiety of going to crowded places, lethargy, unwillingness to meet new people, you must see a doctor and seek advice.It is always very important to have a person with you during the steps of treatment, it may be your wife, mother, father, close friend or some one you trust. Today, lets resolve  not to treat mental illness as taboo, lets open up and understand that a person with mental illness can be treated, with treatment he/she can enjoy a good quality of life and contribute positively to family and community.

Don't Have a Problem? Heres How Counselling Is Still For You

Ms. Manavi Khurana, Psychologist
Mental health is a topic that remains largely ignored and brushed aside by society at large. Most people are unaware that depression is the second leading cause of disability worldwide, second only to back pain. Mental health problems such as depression can have far reaching consequences and affect people’s ability to carry out basic functions like cooking, eating and even getting out of bed in the morning. The tragic incident of the severely depressed pilot of the Germanwings Airline, deliberately ploughing his aircraft into the Alps and plunging 150 people to their deaths is a grim reminder of the harsh reality of mental illness.While mental health problems like depression and anxiety certainly warrant attention, it is a myth that only people suffering from a mental health condition should seek professional help. Counsellors offer help in coping with all aspects of life such as stress over a job, relationship problems, death of loved one, substance abuse and eating disorders among others. Just like people undergo a general health check-up at regular intervals, undergoing a mental health check-up should also be the norm. Counselling enhances the daily life of people by equipping them to handle their day to day problems better and increasing their self esteem and sense of self worth. Take the case of 26 year old marketing executive, Anita :-Being a high achiever, right from school to her workplace, she was surprised when she started experiencing feeling of self doubt with regard to her work. She found herself missing deadlines, her concentration suffered and she was increasingly on edge and irritable. On her friend’s advice, she decided to seek counselling. Talking to the counsellor, Anita realized her excessively high standards of perfection and the enormous pressure she put on herself had been giving her sleepless nights. She learnt to ease the pressure on herself by making smaller goals. The therapist helped her work through her fear of failure and accept that some things are out of her control She further learnt to stop being controlling & delegate tasks to her co-workers instead. This helped her focus & prioritize her tasks, thereby increasing her work performanceAnita wasn’t suffering from any serious mental disorder. However, professional counselling helped build her resilience and strengthen her coping mechanism. Professional counselling is especially relevant in today’s fast paced world where people are constantly rushing against time and trying to juggle multiple roles, both in the family and work domain. With the advent of technology and social media, people are finding it increasingly difficult to switch off from work even when away from their workplace. The blurring of work and family life takes a toll on the mind. We are living in an age where family ties are loosening and younger people are no longer afraid to move to different cities and even countries to explore new opportunities, leaving their friends and family behind. Adjusting to a whole new world often takes a toll on their mental health. It is a common myth that only children are in need of and benefit from counselling. In reality, counselling is just as important for adults as the stresses of life only increases as we age. As people get older, their responsibilities multiply and they often find themselves questioning their life choices. Talking to a counsellor helps people explore their feelings and understand the ways in which their emotions affects their actions and behavior.The world is slowly waking up to the need for professional mental health support. Most fortune 500 companies provide free and confidential counselling service to their employees. Corporate employees, school children, sportspersons and physically ill patients are all being offered mental health support.Opening up about issues or problems to others can be a liberating experience. Research shows that people find it easier to discuss their problems with professionals rather than family members/friends. The confidentiality, unconditional acceptance of the client and the non-judgmental attitude adopted by professional counsellors may play a role in that.

Mental Health Care for New Mothers

Ms. Pallavi Tomar, Psychologist
Arrival of a baby is supposed to be one of the happiest and joyous experiences in a mother’s life. However, some women may experience postpartum disorders following childbirth that may deeply affect their mental health and well-being, in turn also affecting the care of the baby. Having a baby is a significant life change and for many new mothers the lack of sleep and fatigue may take its toll on them. Many new mothers experience what is commonly known as ‘postpartum/ baby blues’. These are mood swings the new mother experiences as a result of hormonal fluctuations post childbirth. Postpartum blues are very common and may be experienced by majority of women. The onset of postpartum blues usually occurs a few days after delivery and should begin to subside as hormone levels stabilise in a weeks’ time. Simple ways in which postpartum blues can be managed:Ensuring a somewhat fixed schedule every day.Help from the partner or other family members. Making sure the new mother gets adequate rest and sleep. Diet must be adequately nutritious.Making sure the new parents get some time to themselves to relax and unwind. Spending time together is also important to reconnect and share feelings.Exercise is effective in uplifting mood. Easing back into some physical fitness routine would be immensely helpful.However, a few new mothers may develop more serious concerns such as peripartum and postpartum depression, anxiety or even psychosis. Hence, it is imperative for new mothers, their partners and care takers to also pay attention to their mental health and feelings of well-being. Peripartum refers to those mood symptoms that occur during pregnancy and postpartum are those that may develop in 4 weeks following delivery. If a person continues to experience mood swings or feelings of depression for more than two weeks post childbirth, the problem may be more serious and special attention must be paid. Signs and symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety to look out for:The symptoms of postpartum depression are the same as clinical depression, involving persistent low mood, decrease in interest, excessive fatigue and lethargy, crying spells, feeling helpless and inadequate, loss of appetite and sleep, increased irritability, anxiety and panic attacks, intense worry about the child or lack of concern. In rare cases, some women may also experience Postpartum Psychosis. A few signs and symptoms to look out for are:Postpartum psychosis involves presence of psychotic symptoms post childbirth. Women experiencing these symptoms may develop strange beliefs or ideas without any basis, they may hear or see things that are not really there (hallucinations), may become suspicious and paranoid and fear harm from others, they may experience rapid mood swings involving euphoric mood with overactivity to high irritability and anger, may feel disorganised, may have decreased need or inability to sleep. If you or a new mother you know are experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to get help. Both these conditions require intervention by a mental health specialist and hence the patient and their families/friends should seek help immediately. These conditions can be managed well with proper treatment and care.