How Counselling can Really Help Postnatal Depression

Postnatal Depression is a more common condition than we often realise. In Ireland alone, it affects approx 12,000 women each year, and these are just the women we know about. These are the women who come forward and say out loud….”please help me.” But what help can they get? Counselling can really help postnatal depression, and make a positive difference to sufferer’s lives.

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Eliminate the Stigma

And how do we help them? The stigma and “bad” attitude towards mental health in general dictates that most people believe that needing help makes them weak, mentally defeated even. Society does not sit easy with mental illness or psychiatriac conditions or “problems ” with the mind in general.

So for most people, Counselling is a “no no”. “There’s something seriously wrong with me if I need to go to counselling” “I’m a terrible mother if I can’t cope”. Well that is simply not true.

How Counselling can Help

The first thing that can happen in counselling is that your perception of what weak and strong is can be challenged. How can you be “weak” and “wrong” and “terrible” by the very nature of sitting in a room with a stranger bearing your heart and soul and emotions in their rawist form?

So almost straight away you know you’ve got guts, you’ve got strength, and that’s a new, but very positive place to start.

This stranger has the skills and the ability to connect and support this very vulnerable part of you, in a safe, trusting, non-judgemental environment. From this place you can go anywhere, and the women I see often do.

With the specific Postnatal Depression condition, certain truths and facts exist. Here are 3 of them:

1. Past Hurts

Postnatal Depression can be a resurrection of past hurts, it’s very rarely anything to do with the baby.

Often through the emotional support of a counsellor, women revert back to times when they felt helpless, or powerless, vulnerable, anxious, out of control, lost or angry and connect them to what they feel now in the present.

What I’m saying is your “core issues” tend to rise from the depths, and when we deal with these, we free our mind and heart up to other positive thoughts and behaviours.

2. Express Freely, Without Judgement

Counselling provides the space to say out loud things that you may never have uttered to another living soul.

Postnatal depression can bring fear and shame and guilt unlike any other condition, and to be able to express this freely and without judgement, is priceless by it’s very nature. This can relieve massive stress and allow a woman to acknowledge what is her “truth” at any given time and move on with her life.

3. A Supportive Process

Mother baby autumn outsideBelieve it or not people are grateful for their condition.

Without it, they would not have looked at certain aspects of their life, their hurts and traumas. They wouldn’t have looked into the eyes of their fears and gotten over them, and they wouldn’t have believed they were strong. They also wouldn’t have believed in themselves or their abilities as a mother.

Lots of women find counselling a supportive processing of their emotions, and find comfort that someone “has their back”, and from that place they can begin to build on a solid foundation and continue on their journey of life.

For more information visit Postnatal Depression Ireland website.

Over to you! Have you/someone you know had postnatal depression? Have they found that counselling has helped?


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Joanna is a qualified counsellor and psychotherapist, and founder of Mammy Matters with a private practice in Lucan & Naas. She is a psychotherapist with the charity Nurture, and has previously worked with HSE/ tusla, for over 10 years,helping children and families in crisis. She is Mother to two sons (one with special needs) and a daughter, and would describe herself as a bit of an" outside the box" thinker.