What Causes Mental Health Issues in Moms and How to Recover?

A mom is consulting about her mental health issues.

Motherhood is a beautiful mess. It’s a rollercoaster of love, exhaustion, and overwhelming emotions. But sometimes, even if you try to contain it, you find yourself snapping at your partner more than usual, crying in a corner, struggling to remember the last decent night’s sleep, or haunted by a nagging guilt that you’re just not doing enough.

These feelings are common, but too often, they linger and start to affect your daily life. But here’s the truth—many moms face mental health challenges, and you’re not alone.

Everyone knows it can be challenging to ask for help. Women have been conditioned to think that they should be able to handle everything on their own and that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But that’s such an ancient way of thinking. Just know that being a mom, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

This blog post will shed light on the everyday mental health struggles that many moms go through. We’ll also explore the things that can contribute to these hurdles. But more importantly, we’ll outline ways to get back on track and beam with a smile again. Let’s start. 

Common Mental Health Challenges Many Moms Experience

While the joys of motherhood are incredible, many moms face challenges that significantly impact their well-being. Here’s a look at some of the most common mental health struggles for mommies:

1. Peripartum depression and anxiety   

Peripartum depression and anxiety can affect any mom, even those who seem to have a natural maternal instinct. Symptoms can be feelings of sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, and difficulty bonding with your baby.  

I vividly recall giving birth to my eldest. One moment, I was on cloud nine; thrilled by the miracle of new life. Then, in the flick of a finger, I felt I was drowning in a wave of sadness and exhaustion. It was confusing.   

The critical thing to know is that these feelings don’t reflect your love or capacity to be a good mom. Many mothers experience similar emotional fluctuations; it’s a normal yet challenging part of the peripartum journey. But know that these feelings are not a sign of weakness or inadequacy. What they mean is that you need extra support during this vulnerable time.   

2. Other mental health concerns   

Motherhood can trigger a variety of pre-existing mental health conditions like generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the news you’ll even hear of moms having postpartum psychosis – a rare but severe condition characterized by hallucinations and delusions. 

If you experience any of the symptoms, please reach out and seek help. Facilities like Jackson House or a similar one near you offer comprehensive treatment programs specifically designed to address the unique needs of mothers struggling with mental health concerns. These programs can provide a safe and supportive environment for healing and equip you with the tools you need to thrive as a mother.   

Factors Contributing To Mental Health Challenges   

Caring for a child and the entire family is a journey that stretches the strongest of women. Here are the various factors that might influence the emotional well-being of moms: 

1. Biological factors   

A woman’s body carries a miracle, and each stage leaves its mark. Dramatic hormonal shifts during pregnancy and postpartum, for example, can trigger mood swings, anxiety, and even depression. Irregular sleep can also be a culprit, throwing a wrench into the hormonal balance, making emotional challenges tougher to navigate.   

I can personally relate to this hormonal rollercoaster. The oxytocin rush when you hold your baby for the first time creates a powerful bond, but it’s fleeting. Breastfeeding was another hurdle I faced. While the initial challenges were frustrating and left me feeling defeated, with perseverance and support, I overcame them. Then there’s the feeling of accomplishment when I finally achieved a successful breastfeeding routine; it was indeed victorious.   

2. Psychological factors   

Motherhood is a beautiful paradox; it’s a time of immense joy intertwined with emotional challenges. While some believe that the “rush of love hormones” during pregnancy magically cures pre-existing depression, the reality is that hormonal fluctuations and the demands of caring for a newborn can often compound existing conditions.   

The emotional adjustment can be significant, especially for career women who transition to staying home. For example, I used to find solace and accomplishment in my fast-paced career. But my days then became a whirlwind of diaper changes and feeding my newborn around the clock. While there was immense joy in caring for my baby, I also missed the intellectual stimulation and sense of purpose I found in my work.   

3. Social factors   

The social landscape of being a mom has a significant impact on mental well-being. Social media, for instance, can be a double-edged sword. It offers a platform for connection, yes. But the carefully curated feeds filled with picture-perfect moments can often fuel feelings of inadequacy and social comparison.   

New moms, especially those struggling to find a support system in their immediate circle, can feel particularly vulnerable to these online portrayals. Cultural expectations also play an influential role. Societal pressures to “have it all together” – appearing effortlessly happy, organized, and achieving unrealistic milestones with your baby – can worsen feelings of guilt and isolation for mothers who are navigating the challenges of newborn care. This situation is especially true for moms who lack robust support systems from family and friends.   

Strategies For Recovery   

While recovery can be overwhelming, practical strategies are available to help you cruise through these challenges and reclaim your emotional wellness.   

1. Seek professional help   

Forget the notion that seeing a therapist or counselor or psychiatrist means you’re “crazy.” Remember, there’s no shame in admitting that you need help. These mental health professionals are highly trained individuals dedicated to helping people navigate emotional challenges and live happier, healthier lives. They can equip you with coping mechanisms, address underlying conditions and guide you towards emotional healing. 

2. Build a support network   

Surround yourself with people who uplift you and make you feel good about yourself. This group could be your partner, family, friends, or online communities specifically for mothers. You deserve to be around those who bring out the best in you and support you through the ups and downs of child rearing.

Feel free to reach out and connect with other moms, too, both online and in your local community. You’d want to look for people who share your values and understand the unique challenges of being a mom. And if you see a fellow mom out and about, strike up a conversation – you never know what valuable insights or connections you might gain.

More importantly, if someone in your life is consistently negative or critical or draining, don’t be afraid to set boundaries or even distance yourself if needed. Your mental health is too important to be weighed down by toxic relationships.

3. Practice mindfulness and stress-reduction techniques   

Take a moment to breathe. But as a busy mom, finding time for mindfulness can sometimes feel challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. There are countless mindfulness channels on social streaming apps or meditation apps you can download on your phone for easy access.   

Aside from doing that, I also light some lavender-scented candles, put on calming music, or dim the lights – creating an environment that fosters relaxation.   

4. Prioritize self-care   

Make time for activities you enjoy even if it’s just a few stolen moments each day. Get enough sleep, eat healthy meals and exercise regularly. These activities significantly improve your mood and energy levels.

Don’t forget to celebrate your wins, too, no matter how small – a peaceful nap, a genuine giggle from your baby, mastering a new diaper change technique! Treat yourself to a relaxing bath or a phone call with a friend or even a small shopping spree. You deserve it! And when someone offers an extra helping hand, grab it with both arms! A happy and healthy mama means a happy and healthy family.

5. Set realistic expectations and boundaries   

Forget about the image of the “perfect mom”; it’s an illusion that only creates unnecessary stress and pressure. Pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for a newborn is a chaotic, beautiful journey filled with laughter, love, and, yes, exhaustion.

So, set realistic expectations for yourself and your baby. Know that there will be days when dishes pile up, laundry waits, and all you can manage is cuddling on the couch. You’re not a machine, and that’s okay. And when you get tired, say it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or take a nap when your little one drifts off.

Setting healthy boundaries is very important too. So learn to say no when needed especially when it comes to activities that drain your energy. For instance, if scrolling through social media feeds filled with picture-perfect moments leaves you feeling inadequate, take a break! Your journey is unique and carefully curated online portrayals do not define your worth. Instead, focus on creating your own beautiful moments, big or small.

With these strategies, you can navigate the challenges with greater resilience and emerge stronger.

Wrap Up  

Even the strongest warriors need moments of rest. Moms, your mental health mattersand there are available resources to help you on your journey. So, embrace the support around you and celebrate victories, no matter how tiny they seem. Remember, you are capable and loved and stronger than you know.

Emily Rose

Wife. Mom. Blogger. Actress. Friend. I got married to Dariek in 2009. Now I am the mother of three cute and naughty children who keep me busy always. As a lifelong learner, I find inspiration from the everyday experiences of motherhood. When I learn a new thing, I share it on my blog GlobalMomsMagazine.com.

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