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Home > Mental health for parents

Mental health for parents

For any parent, life can be overwhelming at times. When parents are stressed, at odds, or experiencing mental health issues, children and families suffer. If you think you or your partner needs help, please contact Eugene Pediatric Associates. We can provide you with the name of an appropriate, professionally trained psychologist or psychiatrist. We're here to help.

What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

Psychologists are human mind and behavior specialists. These trained professionals help children and adults deal with everyday problems. Some specialize in counseling, while others are more procedural or research-oriented.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. Psychiatrists are able to give prescription medications, if needed, as part of a treatment plan.

Clues that indicate you may need the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist may include:

  • Signs of extreme sadness, anxiety, thoughts about harming your baby, suicidal thoughts.
  • Parent-child conflict that is severe or chronic.
  • Relationship with your spouse is deteriorating.
  • Persistent or severe emotional problems that interfere with your ability to function.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Family upheaval such as separation, divorce, job loss, financial stress or death that overwhelms you.
  • Thoughts or attempts to harm yourself or others.
  • Rage toward your child or spouse that you cannot control.
  • Mental health problems that require prescription medications.
  • Anger or deep sadness over the loss of a loved one.
  • Anxiety over job loss, significant financial troubles.

Post-Partum Depression

Many women experience a jumble of emotions after giving birth, ranging from excitement and intense joy to anxiety and sadness. Common symptoms of moodiness and easy crying after having a baby are often labeled "baby blues." But for 1 in 10 mothers, their emotional distress is more severe and is termed "post-partum depression," Rarely, an extreme form of post-partum depression, "post-partum psychosis" can occur.

Symptoms of baby blues include:

  • Mood swings.
  • Mild occasional bouts of anxiety.
  • Mild occasional feelings of sadness.
  • Irritability.
  • Frequent crying.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Difficulty sleeping, even when the baby allows you to sleep.

Symptoms of the more severe post-partum depression include:

  • Severe mood swings.
  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Difficulty bonding appropriately with the new baby.
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Insomnia.
  • Intense irritability and anger.
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Lack of joy.
  • Feelings of inadequacy, shame or guilt.

You may be more at risk for post-partum depression if:

  • You have suffered from it after a prior pregnancy.
  • You have a history of depression prior to becoming pregnant.
  • You and your partner are in conflict.
  • Your social support is not adequate.
  • You are experiencing additional stress upon the arrival of your new baby.

Symptoms of the most severe post-partum psychosis include:

  • Hallucinations - seeing or hearing things that aren't real.
  • Severe insomnia.
  • Extreme agitation or rage.
  • Poor bonding with the new baby.
  • Attempts to harm oneself or the baby.

If you believe you or someone you know may be suffering from post-partum depression, please call us at Eugene Pediatric Associates, or contact your own physician right away. If you are concerned that a mother is suffering from post-partum psychosis, emergently seek medical attention by calling her doctor or going directly to the emergency room. Early diagnosis and treatment of post-partum depression can improve symptoms quickly and allow women and their families to get back to enjoying their new baby and this new chapter in their lives.