My honest review of counseling sessions for postpartum depression.
This article is written by one of our clients
I am Akanskha Kapoor, I am 31 years old staying near M Block market GK-1 New Delhi in India. I am married and now have a 1-year old daughter. My husband is a businessman running his family business. We live in joint family with my in-laws.
Post-delivery of my daughter I started feeling depressed and it was diagnosed as postpartum depression by my doctor. I started getting symptoms after 6 weeks of delivery. Initially it was just random mood swings which I and everyone in family thought were normal post-delivery due to emotional stress a lady goes through. However later on I avoided talking to my family members. I had serious crying spells continuing for longer period of time during the day.
My regular life schedule had gone a toss. My baby was waking up every 2 hours for feeding. I got severe back pain, lost hunger and I lost my sleep. There were both physical and mental suffering for me as a first-time mother.
During my mood swings phase, I was getting thoughts of not liking my baby or just running away someplace else. Sometimes I even thought of not nursing my kid. However, after a while I was getting feelings of overwhelming guilt. It was a terrible situation for me. My gynecologist recommended a psychiatrist in Delhi. He gave me anti-depressant medicines which were effective for a while, but then I felt sluggish or sleepy throughout the day. It was useful but had some not so good side effects.
During one of interaction with psychiatrist, he recommended consulting a counseling psychologist. This was my first experience with counseling. I had heard about psychologists doing talk therapies. I had formed an impression of going to a psychologist like sitting on a counseling chair and then counselor asking me questions about my past etc. Someone recommended me seeking online counseling for depression. I wasn’t sure about online counseling. However, I wasn’t keen to spend time at a clinic with my young daughter.
I met a leading psychologist in Delhi for depression connected by Elate Wellbeing online. My first session was conducted on skype. It was a 60 minutes session. Despite my apprehensions it worked well for me. Counselor was very good and experienced. She asked me right questions and mid-way through the session I was so comfortable sharing my thoughts with her. She told me its normal to have such thoughts and there is nothing wrong it that.
I scheduled next session over the weekend with her. It was a longer session of 90 minutes. This session was more focused as we took each thought and discussed it further on how it comes, why it come, how it goes away etc. It was an amazing session for me as I realised how I was getting thoughts and becoming prisoner of negative thoughts. I learned that I don’t need to react to any though, just observe as they come and go away. I was given some home work to do before next session- thought journaling and think about things I loved about being a new mom.
I started doing my homework diligently for first few days. But then there was mood swing again during on the days followed by crying spell and fights. I thought I am going down to depression hole again and even counseling isn’t going to help me. I chatted with my counselor on my condition, she was very nice and suggested we speak on phone. She just listened to me and my situation that day.
Just by talking to her reduced my anger. She gave me some breathing exercises which made me calm. She insisted that I continue with my homework and in case I can’t write, I could send her audio recorded messages on WhatsApp.
My subsequent session was also very good. My counselor briefed me how our brain work and how our thoughts impact our behavior. I was given more techniques such as using mental imagery, relaxation, thoughts stopping etc. There was again some daily home work to do. Therapies are hard work but are extremely effective indeed.
After a few sessions of counselling for depression based on CBT and doing homework, I was able to figure out a clear thought pattern. Many times, when I am feeling very down and guilty, I was getting negative thoughts automatically. It was like a sad and tragic movie playing in my mind with only negativity all around. I realised it was basically a fear in my mind that I am not adequate for my daughter, or I might not become a good mother. When my child was crying, my mind was making me believe that I am an incompetent mother who is unable to deal with her child. It was so wrong. Kids cry for variety of reasons, this is their way to communicate. I didn’t need to make a causal inference to myself or making myself feel bad.
In counseling sessions, I learned various ways to bring my mind back on track of positive thoughts. I realized that its ok to commit mistakes, its ok for kids to cry, its ok to have changes in my lifestyle or not getting sleep for some time before my child becomes a little bigger or its ok not to know everything on how to care for your child. I also started looking at positives all around me. Amazing support I was getting from my husband or my in-laws or my parents in my motherhood. Based on suggestion from my counselor, I also started going out to socialize sometimes with my daughter or sometime without her. There was no fear how she will deal without me. There was enough support at home for that purpose.
I also started practicing yoga and meditation. It also helped me tremendously. Meditation was a little difficult initially as I was getting lost in thoughts easily. However, with some disciplined approach, I started meditating for longer period of time. I opted for mindfulness meditation method and focused on breath to start with. I used Elate Wellbeing online meditation program for beginners. Yoga- I tried simple asana for 30–40 minutes followed by 10 minutes of pranayams.
With counseling therapy for depression, I was able to regain control of my thoughts. I was feeling positive and happy towards myself and my baby within a few months. Having gone through whole process of counseling, I would recommend that a pregnant mother should seek counseling even before delivery. It’s not only useful when you have depression, but such therapies help you understand yourself better, help you see your thought patterns. It would be best if both husband and wife seek such sessions to help them prepare for parenthood.