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Maternal Mental Health Is More About Trauma Than Depression or Anxiety

separating trauma from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders

Yesterday I saw a post by my friend and colleague that resonated so much, I knew I had to say something. We are getting maternal mental health wrong. I'll admit, that's scary to say, but I cannot sit by in silence anymore.

trauma versus mood and anxiety disorders

Had it not been for my personal experience with infertility, a very high-risk pregnancy & extremely preterm delivery , I wouldn't have known to question the many years I'd spent training in clinical psychology, learning how to diagnose & treat mood/anxiety disorders (among others). Yes, that is nerve-wracking to admit but it's the truth.

It was this personal experience where I realized my training did not match my needs as the patient. I was anxious but I knew I didn't have an anxiety disorder. I felt down, blue, hopeless, angry and sad but I knew I wasn't depressed. I was living through & then trying to heal from months of ongoing perinatal trauma.

That's exactly what I see with my clients

Maybe you can resonate with this.

They've tried all the things. Therapy, medications, meditation, journaling, deep breathing, and it brings them some relief but just not enough. Thank goodness my clients don't settle in believing that they're a "lost cause" or that they have to accept that this is their new normal. That's why they reach out, believing I can help them in a way no one else has been able to.

How else can we explain why clients who were hospitalized for panic & in intensive therapy stopped having panic attacks & were never re-hospitalized after we began our work together? How else we can explain a significant increase in mood & improvement in "depressive-like" symptoms when we did nothing to address her emotions? It is this trauma-informed, trauma-first approach that works.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows that this is not the end of the road.

Too many women believe that nothing can help them feel better, that this is the best it can get because of how much hardship they're going through and have been through. I see so many women in Facebook groups or online sharing that they accepted they'll always be triggered around loss anniversaries or their preemie's birthday, that the smell of hand sanitizer will always make them freeze.

It literally breaks my heart to hear women believe this because it's just not true.

The truth is...

The truth is that women who have experienced reproductive, pregnancy or birth trauma are being treated for conditions they likely don't have. They're being asked to consider their symptoms as a mental illness when what they're actually experiencing is a normal response to a traumatic event (or events) that are not being addressed.

The truth is, for most women who are experiencing anxiety & depressive symptoms on their TTC journey , while experiencing pregnancy complications or in the NICU, training your body to reset your alarms & restore body safety can make these symptoms disappear. Even better, when we reset your arousal system and restore body safety, we activate your natural repair system which can help manage and improve complications, too.

Does that mean clinical depression and anxiety don't exist at all? Not necessarily. But I will say they exist separate from trauma FAR less than we've ever allowed ourselves to believe.

The choice is yours

If you've read this far, my guess is something about this resonates with you. Maybe you've been trying all the things and it hasn't helped but you never knew there was another way. Or maybe you could never put your finger on it but hearing someone else talk about trauma has hit home.

Whatever it is, you're here and now you have a choice. You can continue on the path you've been on or you can try a trauma-release approach to healing from what you've been through, with the guidance of someone who has personally been there and is focused specifically on infertility, high-risk pregnancy, loss and prematurity.

This is tremendously powerful work, the shifts I see in my clients are mindblowing. They're fast, they're deep and they do not re-trigger. I'm so grateful to do with my clients and I'd love to invite you to join us too.

Learn more here and let's get you started to healing so you can get pregnant, stay pregnant and enjoy the life you created with your miracles.

You deserve more

Whether we work together or not, I hope you can take home that you deserve more than just coping, getting by and feeling good enough most of the time.

You are not your diagnosis. You are not defined by your past. And your future can be blindingly bright still, even as you're finding yourself out of the dark.

You are wholly deserving of this.

Does this resonate? Here's what to do next.

If this resonates with you and you want to learn more here's what you can do:

  1. Listen to this podcast episode that dives into the myths and truths of fertility-, pregnancy- and birth trauma and trauma healing

  2. Check out the This is Trauma series to see how familiar it all sounds

  3. Begin your healing today. If you are trying to conceive or are done growing your family, join us in Healing Hearts. If you are currently pregnant, email us about personalized support through your high-risk pregnancy.

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