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Perinatal Mental Health Therapy

I specialize in Perinatal Mental Health, reproductive trauma and EMDR therapy. I am currently offering therapy sessions both in person at my office in Rancho Bernardo (San Diego) and virtually to anyone in the state of California.

Have you been feeling off during your pregnancy or postpartum period? Have you been feeling more down, irritable, or anxious than normal?

Has it been hard to feel like yourself, or are you worried about when you might start to feel better? 

You are not alone.

Did you know that Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) are the most common complications of childbirth (even more than Gestational Diabetes and Pregnancy Induced Hypertension)?

1 in 5 women (and 1 in 10 dads and same sex partners) will develop a PMAD during pregnancy or in the months after giving birth.

You may have heard of Postpartum depression yet it's actually common to experience symptoms beyond depression. We now use the word “Perinatal” instead of “Postpartum” to describe these disorders because perinatal describes the pregnancy AND postpartum period, as it is common for these symptoms to occur during pregnancy as well. 

Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder symptoms (PMADs) also include Anxiety, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Psychosis.

These symptoms are common yet parents often blame themselves. Many wonder “What did I do wrong?" and compare themselves to other parents.

Please know, you did absolutely nothing wrong. This is not your fault. There are many risk factors for why you might have developed PMAD symptoms, including:

  • Traumatic pregnancy or birth Did you have an emergency C-section, an unwanted or urgent birth experience, have negative interactions with your providers, or difficulty with breastfeeding?
  • Difficult experiences around conception, pregnancy or postpartum recovery Did you have hyperemesis, were you on bed rest, did you bleed or have other difficulties during your pregnancy? Did you experience infertility or losses? Was your baby in the NICU, does your baby have special needs, is your baby colicky, or have a difficult temperament? Have you had challenges feeding your baby?
  • A personal or family history of mental health issues Including but not limited to depression, anxiety and a history of a prior PMAD.
  • A traumatic childhood Childhood experiences, including mismatched temperaments with parents (such as not receiving the guidance or compassion needing during vital early years) can have profound lasting effects, particularly as you are now becoming a parent!
  • Current or past domestic violence, physical, sexual or other abuse  (i.e. other traumas) which can get retriggered during the perinatal period
  • Stress Significant changes in your life can be really challenging during this time of becoming a parent.  Transitions such as moving, relationship challenges, losing a loved one or losing a job can impact your mental health
  • Lack of social support Having support and a "village" during this period is so important, and people who are lacking solid support can feel added stress. Is your partner deployed or are you a single parent? Does your family live far away or are they not very involved?

The very most profound thing we have to offer our own children is our own healing
- Anne Lamott -

While some parents feel depressed during and after pregnancy, many parents also feel overwhelmed and anxious. Additional common symptoms are:

  • Impatience, irritability, rage
  • Intrusive thoughts, images, or fears of harm coming to your baby
  • Feelings of helplessness and/or hopelessness
  • Lack of motivation and loss of energy
  • Difficulty in concentrating and making decisions
  • Changes in sleeping and/ or eating patterns
  • Isolation and withdrawal from loved ones
  • Frequent feelings of “I can’t do this”
  • Not feeling like yourself / feeling "off"
  • Difficulty attaching or bonding to your baby
  • In the most serious cases, having urges to harm oneself or others, or seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not really there and/or beliefs that are not based in reality

Regardless if you are experiencing all of these symptoms or only a few, the good news is these symptoms are temporary and very treatable with professional help! Therapy can help you learn to manage these emotions, build skills to learn to trust your instincts and help you relax and enjoy being with your baby.

Additional Perinatal Mental Health Resources can be found here

I am a LGBTQ+ affirming therapist and respect and welcome all clients in my practice.

Babies are always welcome in our sessions!