Posts Tagged 'psychotherapy'

Feelings go Up and Down

This seems obvious, that feelings go Up and Down, but you would be surprised at how often people forget this.

The nature of feelings is that they’re sometimes intense. Sometimes you can anticipate them, sometimes not. Occasionally something catches you by surprise. When you can anticipate them, they’re easier to deal with, if you’ve anticipated them accurately, that is. But we as humans are really bad at that! We don’t anticipate how we’re going to feel very accurately at all.

We’re not very accurate predictors of feelings

I’m not going to hunt down a study and prove it to you at this moment. Instead think about the last time you thought you would feel a certain way when you knew some big event was coming up. Let’s take Graduation. We’re coming up on Graduation season. Most people anticipate feeling really, really happy, ecstatic even, giddy, joyful.

But most people will also say afterwards that it was a bit of a let down, or they expected to feel better than they did. That’s because they anticipated feeling a certain way and didn’t anticipate the mix of feelings that they may experience. So chances are they felt really, really happy but also nervous and perhaps a bit sad. Those last two brought down the happiness a bit.

Generally, Feelings go Up and Down.

Yep, so you’ll feel some happiness and then it will go down a bit and you feel more normal/neutral. And then you’ll feel happy again, etc, etc.

But this also applies to negative feelings. So when we’re sad, we’re bad at predicting that we’re going to feel better. We think we’re going to stay sad forever. But generally speaking, that’s rarely the case. We feel sad, then we feel closer to “normal.” Then sad again, then neutral, then maybe even a moment of happiness happens, then more neutral.

We go up and down and a bit around with our feelings. They key here is to talk to yourself about them. So when you’re in that sad state, tell yourself that you will feel happier again sometime soon. Sadness is not going to last forever. Just knowing that and reassuring yourself will help you feel better, less sad. Knowing that it will pass truly helps.

Talking to a counselor or psychologist or psychotherapist also helps. They help you figure things out. They help teach you strategies to deal with and handle sadness and other feelings. They help you notice what helps and what doesn’t.  And they help you talk about the feelings. If you’re in South Florida or Broward County and need a counselor, then feel free to contact me at 954-309-9071 or visit my Florida Psychotherapy website.


Separation bad for the Mama, bad for the Baby!

Occasionally in my private practice in Hollywood I’m called on to write an immigration report. You can imagine that there are plenty of immigration reports  in South Florida. We’re a highly populated port city.

I’m not writing to take a political stance about immigration. I am here though to write a bit about Mom and Baby/Child separation. Assuming there is no abuse, it’s very clear that Moms should not be separated from their children on a permanent basis. I’m not talking about vacations here or even an extended trip that has to be taken for various circumstances. Even then, babies sometimes go into infant depression and children feel effects of a separation as well.

A permanent separation can deeply and traumatically affect a child. It can affect them into their adolescence and adulthood with higher rates of anxiety and depression as well as substance abuse if their mom is lost to them.

Politically, it’s a conundrum – A mom comes here illegally then has children here that are legal but can’t necessarily take them back to her home country if she’s deported.

From an attachment perspective, it’s a no-brainer. They shouldn’t be separated, period. A child, if at all possible, shouldn’t grow up without their mom.

Acupuncture helps with Prenatal Depression

This is a significant study in terms of treatment options for pregnant women struggling with depression. Most pregnant women are reluctant to take antidepressants during pregnancy for good reason. There are risks associated with them and the health of the mom vs. the risk to the fetus must be considered carefully. If someone is not able to function (i.e., is crying constantly, not able to go to work, can’t pull themselves out of bed, not taking care of already born children), then treatment becomes a necessity, not a consideration.

This study found that acupuncture is as effective as antidepressants or counseling. This is HUGE!!!

Read it here:

Some people need counseling, they need to talk about it, to get feedback, to explore what’s going on in order to remedy it and prevent it in the future.

Others prefer not to talk or don’t have room in their schedules for regular counseling sessions. Looks like acupuncture is an excellent treatment alternative for them.

Make it to bedtime

Sometimes you’re having a really bad day and the kids are driving you cra-zee. Here’s a mantra for you  – “I only have to make it until bedtime.”

Now it’s bad if you’re thinking that at 9 a.m. in which case you may want to pick a closer goal – “I only have to make it until naptime.” If naptime has been given up long ago, well then  . . .

You have full permission to decompensate, collapse, freak out at that point. In fact, you have full permission to do that before that point if you need to. I know plenty of moms who go into their bedrooms for a little private time. Make sure the baby/kiddos are safe and go for it.

Some days are just going to be like that. You’ll get through them. Call a friend, get out of the house, go to the grocery store, put the t.v. on for the kids, anything to help you cope. If you have willing relatives/friends, ask if you can drop the baby off for a bit. Nothing horrible is going to happen if you take a couple of hours to yourself. And you need it!

If it doesn’t help, well then contact a professional. Seriously. If the depression doesn’t let up and just keeps coming at you, never giving you a break, and you feel like this day after day after day you need to see someone. It will help like it helps thousands of women every day.

Is “you’re a bad mom” Emotional Abuse?

I work with individuals and couples facing emotional abuse. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that if your partner is saying that you’re a bad mother, chances are that you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship. I’m assuming you’re not breaking bones or leaving bruises here and that you’re doing the basics of motherhood – cleaning, feeding, and drying those tears. Motherhood is unbelievably hard and what we need are partners that get that and try in any way they can to support us and help us through the daily struggle.

Roni Weisberg-Ross, LMFT, says this about it:

How then do we recognize and deal with emotional abuse?

Trust your own instincts and the instincts of others who claim to have been abused. If you/they feel it or can name it, attention must be paid. Respect your emotions. This abuse is insidious and can be very subtle. But it wears away at your self-esteem and sense of self. If someone has or is continually making you feel bad about yourself, scaring you or making you feel as if you are crazy, then even if they aren’t fully aware of it, they are abusing you. Just because emotional abuse is not treated as a crime doesn’t mean it isn’t serious.

So how do you start the healing process from emotional abuse?

First, you recognize it. “Trying harder” will not stop abuse because nothing you did caused it in the first place. No matter how clean the house it, how spotless the kitchen, how quiet the children are, an abuser will find something to attack. Try to recognize that as a first step. Then seek some help in dealing with this very subtle, insidious problem.

Abusers can change, particularly when they are confronted with how hurtful and painful the abuse is for their families. Yes, families. It’s not good for children to grow up witnessing emotional abuse and learning either that that is how you treat someone or that is how you’re treated in what is supposed to be a loving relationship. But besides them, it’s not good for you either.

Roni’s blog is at:

Another resource is Annie Kaszina’s newsletter, which is excellent. You can find it at

Escapist Fantasies

A friend and I were talking about the anxiety part of postpartum depression. Her anxiety was so bad that she wanted to literally just run out of the house.

Ah, yes, the run out of the house fantasy! Raise your hand if you’ve had this one. There’s not a woman with PPD that I’ve spoken to that hasn’t had these strong urges to just outright escape, run away, run off to some other country and become a librarian.

In fact, there’s not a mom out there that doesn’t have the escapist fantasies from time to time – to leave it all behind and just be “free.” What makes it different when it’s part of a postpartum mood disorder is that it’s much, much stronger. It’s overwhelming. It feels very real. Like when you lock the doors and windows, you’re doing it to keep yourself from escaping, not to keep the bad guys out.

Occasionally you’ll hear of a woman who actually does it. She leaves her children and runs off somewhere. Most mom will have a sharp intake of breath, an instant of “I wish I could,” and then the heartache that comes with the very thought of abandoning their children.

Sometimes PPD moms will be stuck between the “I wish” and the heartache. They feel frozen. I have a theory that the urge to escape not just the child or children but the postpartum depression itself is what fuels the fantasy. If only everything could feel better if they just went away. If only you could outrun your feelings.

The trick (if you could call it that) is to instead sit with the feelings. It helps some women to just know that they will pass, that they won’t last forever, that this will get better. This will get better. This will get better.

If nothing else, please know that. Seeing a psychotherapist can help that process along. There’s plenty of research to support that. But even if you can’t afford to or choose for whatever reason not to, just know that this will get better even without treatment.

Peace out.

How to find a therapist . . . for postpartum women

There are only about a million articles written about how to find a therapist. What to look for -experience, degrees, licensure – and who to ask – friends, your doctor. Those are the basics.

I think postpartum women have a few more requirements that are important to consider. Let me tell you a story. A friend of mine knew at 10 days postpartum that there was a problem. She called a local specialist in postpartum depression who told her that she needed to join a therapy group and that the baby wasn’t welcome in session. This was a 10 day old . . . that she was nursing. Her baby couldn’t go more than about an hour and a half without nursing. She woud have a half hour drive from her house, an hour and a half during group, and then a half hour drive back. That would be two and a half hours away from a newborn.

Those of you who are pregnant and reading this may ask, “what’s the big deal?” Those of you who have had a baby have probably gasped in horror by now.

My friend did not go to that therapist, but the story continues. She saw a psychiatrist who was not familiar with breastfeeding and told her she would have to wean to go on antidepressants. My friend had breastfeeding information in her hand, printed out, and the psychiatrist refused to look at it. She refused to wean her baby and found another psychiatrist who would prescribe something safe for breastfeeding. There are antidepressants safe for breastfeeding, but that’s another blog!

If you’re desperate at the moment of reading this, please contact your local La Leche League leader for a list of safe antidepresants.

When looking for a therapist, postpartum women should consider a couple of factors:

  • Is the psychotherapist close enough to your house?
  • How long will appointments run?
  • Does the psychotherapist allow you to bring your baby with you into session?
  • Is the psychotherapist supportive of nursing and the nursing relationship if you are choosing to nurse?
  • Does the psychotherapist understand the demands of new motherhood? 

If the therapist doesn’t allow your baby in session and you still really want to see them but just can’t figure out how to work it out with a newborn, consider taking your partner or another caretaking person with you to attend to the baby in the waiting room.  

It’s really important to find a therapist who understands not just motherhood, but the overwhelming changes that come with new motherhood. You shouldn’t have to leave your baby for extensive periods of time or wean them to overcome postpartum depression.

Even if you’re just having some difficulties adjusting to new motherhood or dealing with a difficult delivery, the same applies. Find a therapist that you feel understands and is willing to work with you, not against you.