Understanding and Navigating Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Therapeutic CounsellingHaving a baby is often talked about as one of the most joyful moments in a person’s life. However, it’s important to acknowledge that the postpartum period can also be incredibly emotionally and physically challenging . It’s common for new parents to experience a wide range of emotions, including stress, exhaustion and anxiety. In some cases, this can escalate into postpartum depression and anxiety.

At Breathing Space Counselling, we understand that postpartum depression and anxiety can have a significant impact on the birthing parent and their family. That’s why we offer counselling services specifically tailored to help new parents navigate these challenges.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at postpartum depression and anxiety, and provide some tips for coping and seeking support.

Understanding Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Postpartum depression and anxiety (PPD/PPA) are both mental health conditions that can affect birthing parents. PPD/PPA affects about 10 – 16% of birthing parents in the first year of parenthood. They are different from the “baby blues,” which are a common experience that typically subside within a few days or weeks after giving birth. Postpartum depression and anxiety, on the other hand, can last for several months or longer.

Postpartum depression can include experiencing feelings of: sadness, hopelessness, overwhelm, guilt, anger or rage, worthlessness, loss of interest in life, difficulty with making decisions, thoughts of being a terrible parent, or frightening thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. It can also manifest as physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, changes in appetite and/or sleep patterns.

PPD/PPA can begin during pregnancy or after baby is born, and can persist for weeks or even months after giving birth.
Postpartum anxiety, on the other hand, is marked by excessive worry and fear that can interfere with daily life. Symptoms may include: a racing heart, sweating, trembling, excessive worry & self-doubt, intrusive thoughts or images of harm to the baby, and difficulty sleeping. Postpartum anxiety can make it difficult to take care of oneself and the new baby.

Risk Factors

Some birthing parents are at higher risk of experiencing PPD/PPA. This includes people who:

  • Have experienced depression or anxiety in the past, or have a family history of depression or anxiety.
  • Had a traumatic pregnancy or birthing experience.
  • Went through a stressful or traumatic experience before or during pregnancy, such as loss of a loved one, infertility, miscarriage, etc.
  • Have a history of domestic violence, sexual or other abuse.
  • Had a traumatic childhood, such as loss of a parent, an absent parent, or a difficult relationship with a parent.
  • Are isolated and have too little support from friends, family and community.

Navigating Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

If you are experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Here are some tips for navigating this experience:

  • Reach out for support: Talk to your partner, family members, or friends about how you’re feeling. Consider joining a support group for new parents or seek out professional counselling.
  • Practice self-care: Be gentle and kind to yourself about the fact that you’re a new parent and things are going to feel hard. Do small things for yourself that are meaningful to you and manageable, such as going for a short walk or eating a nourishing meal.
  • Prioritize sleep and exercise: Getting enough sleep and exercise can help improve your mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Set realistic expectations: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be the “perfect” parent — perfect doesn’t exist. It’s okay to not know, take things one day at a time and ask for help along the way.

The Pacific Postpartum Support Society is a wonderful free resource for parents experiencing PPD/PPA. They offer phone and text message support, as well as support groups for birthing parents and their partners. You can learn more about them here.

Our Counsellors at Breathing Space Counselling can also provide therapeutic counselling for postpartum depression and anxiety in our Port Moody offices or online/by telephone. We can help you to develop strategies to navigate your entry into parenthood, and work through difficult emotions in a safe and supportive environment.

Take the First Step

If you’re struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety, please know, you’re not alone. Seeking help is a sign of strength and at Breathing Space Counselling we’re here to support you.

Contact us today to schedule a free phone consultation and take that first step towards your healing and recovery.

Therapeutic Counselling: A Guide to Finding the Right Counsellor in Port Moody and Beyond

Choosing a counsellor can be an overwhelming task. With so many options available, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are some tips to help you find the right counsellor for you:

Consider Your Needs:
Before you start looking for a counsellor, think about what you need from therapy. Do you need help with a specific issue, such as anxiety or depression? Do you prefer a certain type of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy or somatic therapy? Do you need a counsellor who will be sensitive and culturally-affirming to your specific identity? Knowing your needs can help you narrow down your search.

Ask for Referrals:
Personal referrals can be a great way to narrow your search. If you’re comfortable sharing that you’re looking for a counsellor, ask your primary care doctor, friends, or family members if they can recommend someone and ask them to share why they like them. People you love and trust will likely recommend someone who would be a good fit for you.

Look on Online Directories:
If you don’t get any good suggestions by referral, there are many online directories where you can search for a counsellor. In Canada, some of them include the ACCT Online Counsellor Directory, Healing in Colour, South Asian therapists.org, and Psychology Today.

Check with your Insurance Company:
In Canada there are lots of different designations in the counselling field. Check with your insurance company to see which kinds of therapists are covered under your plan. (If your plan covers Registered Counsellors, they should cover the counsellors at Breathing Space.)

Do Your Research:
Once you have a list of potential counsellors, do some research. Go to each counsellors website and read their bio. Look for information about their education, training, and experience.

Consider the Approach & Philosophy:
Different therapists may have different values, approaches and philosophies, so it’s important to find someone whose style resonates with you. Some counsellors may focus on problem-solving and practical strategies, while others may focus on exploring emotions and past experiences. Consider which approach aligns with your needs and preferences.

Personal Connection:
Just like in any relationship, you connect with some people more than others. A big part of finding the right counsellor is about finding a good fit. Notice how you feel when you read their bio and look at their photo.

Schedule a Free Consultation:
Many counsellors offer a free 15-20 min phone consultation so you can speak to them directly and get a feel for who they are. This can be a great opportunity to chat with the counsellor, share a little about what you’re looking for, ask any questions you may have, and get a general sense of whether or not you connect with this person.

Trust Your Gut!
Ultimately, the most important factor in choosing a counsellor is your gut feeling. When you had your phone consultation, did you feel comfortable talking to them? Did you feel yourself relax and perhaps want to speak to them more, or again? If you have any reservations or doubts, it’s okay to keep looking.

Choosing a counsellor is an important decision that can have a significant impact on your mental health and well-being. By considering your needs, doing your research, and trusting your gut, you can find a counsellor who is the right fit for you.

At Breathing Space Counselling, we offer a range of therapeutic services with experienced and compassionate therapists.  Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you on your journey towards healing and growth.

Finding Hope and Healing: Counselling for Depression in Port Moody and Beyond

In-Person Counselling SessionsStruggling with depression is a darkness like no other and it can take an incredible amount of energy to manage everything you are experiencing. One of the hardest parts is how alone it can make you feel, and for those who have never gone through it, this can be very hard to understand. As a result, the sometimes well-meaning comments of friends and family to “be strong”, “stay positive” or “look on the bright side,” can be invalidating, and sometimes deeply shaming.

We are here to remind you that don’t have to go through this darkness alone. You deserve to say yes to skilled support. Our experienced and empathetic counsellors are here to walk beside you on your journey through this difficult time towards healing and emotional well-being.

A Safe, Inclusive, and Non-Judgmental Space
Having a safe, inclusive, and non-judgmental space is crucial for counselling to be effective and we strive to create this experience for all of our clients. At Breathing Space Counselling, we are committed to creating an environment where you can feel supported and heard without fear of judgment. Our counsellors are trained to provide compassionate care and we welcome individuals from all walks of life, regardless of gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, race, socioeconomic status, faith, appearance, etc.

Counselling Tailored to You
Your life and your experience is unique, and your experience with depression will be unique too. We invite you to take the time you need to build your trust with us and share as much or as little as you feel comfortable sharing during your initial counselling sessions. Our counsellors are skilled listeners who will hold space for you to express your thoughts, feelings, and concerns without judgment.

We will take the time to get to know you and your unique life experience, and will co-create what healing looks like for you together. We will offer support by walking beside you and holding up a flashlight in those dark places, so you can better understand what is happening and how to find your way through it.

The Chance to Gain Clarity and New Perspectives
Depression can cloud perception and make it challenging to see beyond the darkness. At Breathing Space Counselling, we strive to help you gain clarity and new perspectives on your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. Our counsellors will work with you to explore underlying factors that may be contributing to your depression and help you develop new emotional skills or strengthen existing ones. You will have the opportunity view your life and relationships from different angles, allowing for fresh insights and new possibilities for growth.

This may include an exploration of things like:

  • Your family history:
    Including any unresolved issues or intergenerational traumas (traumas in your family history) that are landing on you, and impacting you today.
  • Past or current traumas:
    Our counsellors are trauma-informed and will work gently and carefully with you to work through your traumas. This will including educating you about your nervous system and the process of trauma resolution.
  • Situational factors:
    Often there are real-life factors that are contributing to your depression. For example, maybe you don’t like your job, your relationship(s) have deteriorated, or you’ve experienced a series of difficult and painful losses. These could all be contributing factors and we will work with you to find your way through them.
  • Finding meaning and purpose in life again:
    Often the experience of depression can be one of meaninglessness and hopelessness – where it feels like nothing matters and there’s no point to anything. We work with you to rediscover what will bring you meaning at this stage of life and how you can feel alive again.
  • Suicidality or Self-Harm: Suicidal thoughts and feelings or impulses to self-harm are a part of some people’s experience of depression and this can feel incredibly scary to go through. Our counsellors are skilled at helping you navigate these experiences and will work with you to find your way to safety again.

Online and In-Person Counselling Sessions in Port Moody, BC
We understand that people’s preferences and circumstances are different, which is why we offer both online and in-person counselling sessions at our Port Moody location. If you’re unable to come into our office, our online counselling sessions provide a convenient and accessible way to receive support from the comfort of your own home. Our counsellors are trained in online counselling techniques and will ensure that you receive the same level of care and support as you would in person.

Take the First Step Towards Healing
If you’re struggling with depression, know that you don’t have to face it alone. At Breathing Space Counselling, we are here to support you on your path to healing. Depression can feel overwhelming, but with the right support, it is possible to find healing and purpose again. 

Take the first step and book a free phone consultation with us to chat about how we can support you. You are not alone – we are here and ready to help you.

The Power of Couples Counselling

Let’s face it – relationships are hard work. It can feel scary to admit this because we equate “hard” with meaning something is wrong. But this is not always true! With intimate relationships, hard can simply mean you need to team-up and find a new way forward together. The challenge is that so many of us don’t know how to do this, or when we try, we get stuck or end up in a fight with our partner. This cycle is frustrating and keeps us from finding a way forward.

The relationship counselling we offer is designed to help you and your partner create the kind of relationship you want — whatever that looks like for you. We work with you to identify your personal relationship goals and develop strategies to achieve them. We help you to walk towards a relationship that feels connected, nourishing and fulfilling.

Whether you are in crisis and need help navigating those rough waters; or simply want to strengthen your steady relationship with counselling check-in’s (or maybe something in-between) — our relationship counselling can be a great first step towards building what you want, together.

What is Couples Counselling?

First off, couples counselling is no longer just for conventional relationships. Relationships take many forms — dating, married, common-law, co-parenting, polyamorous, open-marriage and more. All people, in all relationships deserve support when they get stuck.

During your counselling journey, you and your partner(s) will have the opportunity to explore your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours in a safe and supportive environment. Our counsellors are trained to help you communicate more effectively, deepen your emotional and physical intimacy, and work through past traumas (both individual and relationship traumas). You will also receive support to navigate life’s transitions — such as becoming parents, losing loved ones, and adjusting to retirement and more.

Cookie cutter is not how we do things — every relationship is unique and we tailor our approach to work with your specific struggles and desired goals. Our approach is collaborative, non-judgmental and focused on what you need to make things better, together.

Benefits of Couples Counselling

Couples counselling can benefit your relationship in so many ways — here are just a few:

1. Improved Communication:
One of the most common roadblocks relationships hit is a breakdown in healthy communication. Feeling misunderstood, unheard, or having differing realities are some of the most common struggles we hear about. Couples counselling can help you slow down, communicate more clearly, listen more openly, increase awareness of the underlying issues in the communication breakdown (your own and your partners’), and practice new ways of communicating and connecting.

2. Increased Intimacy and Closeness:
Repetitive struggles and disconnection do not leave much space for closeness or intimacy. Couples counselling can help you identify the underlying issues that are contributing to this disconnection, and develop strategies to help you reconnect emotionally and physically.

3. Conflict Resolution:
When conflict arises in relationship, all good behaviour and healthy strategies can go out the window. It’s hard to access the best parts of you when you are “seeing red” or feeling shut down. Much of conflict resolution begins with nervous system regulation, then understanding yourself and your partner(s), and finally making active changes. Counselling can be helpful with all three of these steps.

Why Choose Breathing Space Counselling in Port Moody?

At Breathing Space Counselling, we offer relationship counselling that is responsive to the unique struggles you face in your relationship. Our therapists will work with you and your partner to help you identify the underlying struggles and challenges you face (individually and as a couple) in your relationship and develop new ways forward, together.

Our team of therapists make use of a variety of approaches and modalities – this allows for each couple to receive exactly what they need each time they come to session. Sessions are available in our Port Moody offices or online.

Our therapeutic approach emphasizes emotional safety, empathy, and collaboration. We believe that by working together, we can help you and your partner develop the practical and emotional skills you need to move through your challenges and build a stronger, healthier, more connected relationship – a relationship that will weather the storms of life.

We welcome 2SLGBTQIA+ couples, as well as those in polyamorous or non-traditional relationships.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Counselling

7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Counselling

Life’s been a struggle lately and you’ve made the decision to get a counsellor.  Maybe you are brand new to counselling and have no idea what to expect. Or, maybe you’ve done this before and now you’re investing in further support and guidance.  No matter where you are coming from, here are seven great tips on how to make the most of your counseling journey:

1. Get Comfortable

Have you ever noticed how when your belt is a little too tight, or your shoes are pinching your toes, it’s hard to concentrate?  Being physically comfortable allows your body to relax.  Physical comfort lends itself to deeper emotional comfort, which is exactly what your counsellor wants for you.  Next session, allow yourself to get comfy – slip off your shoes, lean into the pillows, ask for a glass of water — and if it helps, turn off your phone.  This time is all about you, so make the most of it.

2. Establish a Goal

Everyone enters counseling hoping for something – a better relationship with a partner, more self-confidence, ways to manage their anxiety, etc.   One way to jump start the process of counselling, and get the most from your time, is to consider what you want help with and share that with your counsellor.  If you aren’t sure, try writing down your thoughts in a journal.  You can begin by asking yourself, “What hurts the most right now?”  As you let yourself think on paper, your goal will likely reveal itself in your words.

3. Share the Details

Talking to a stranger can feel uncomfortable.  Talking to a stranger about the things you choose not to share with anyone can be especially nerve-wracking. But here is something you need to know — your counselor wants to hear what you have to say.  If you find yourself getting stuck about what to share and clamming up, share that experience with your counselor.  Sometimes the words “I feel stuck right now” can open the door to amazing insights and personal growth.

4. Be Honest

Often clients come to counselling to heal something that is hard to speak about.  These revelations can range from childhood abuse to relationship affairs – and everything in between.  Feeling safe with your counselor allows you to open up and take risks. Sometimes honesty can feel like the biggest risk of all; especially if you haven’t revealed your secret to anyone else. The reward of that risk is well worth taking the step: deeper and more meaningful counselling and an opportunity to heal what truly hurts.

5. The Gift of Time

If you’ve ever had a great conversation with a friend then you know how fast time can fly by.  When things start to flow between counsellor and client, time can fly by just as quickly.  When I tell clients “We have about 10 mins to wrap up” I commonly hear back  “Already? That went fast!”  If this happens to you then consider gifting yourself a longer counselling session (or two).  Momentum and breakthroughs can often take time and it’s important to take advantage of the flow that can happen in a single session. Yes, it’s a bigger investment – but the value of the personal growth and insight you get from that extra time can often be priceless.

6. Building Emotional Muscles

Going to therapy is like hitting the emotional gym – at the start, the more consistently you go, the more likely you are to reach your therapeutic goals.  On average, it takes 4 to 6 sessions to start to feel a shift.  If possible, commit to an agreed upon number of sessions from the start. Make appointments for dates and times you know you can stick to. When those initial sessions are complete, you can decide whether you want more sessions (to dig deeper) or fewer sessions (to allow the learning to settle in). Eventually you’ll find yourself only needing sessions to maintain the growth you have achieved.

7. Keep Exploring

Therapy doesn’t have to end after your leave your counsellor’s office.  In fact, if you take what you learn about yourself in session and explore it further, you are likely to deepen and accelerate your healing.  How can you do that?  Journal about your ‘aha’ moments, talk to a trusted friend, do the homework your counsellor assigns you.  Keeping the learning alive between sessions is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, and your counsellor.