chilbirth, family, life, mental health, mental illness, motherhood, pregnancy

Mental Illness and Motherhood / OCD Anxiety Postpartum Depression

This article is very interesting. It describes how a woman’s neurology actually changes when she becomes a mother. The changes that occur in the woman’s brain are designed to make her protective of the baby. Depending on the woman’s background and genetics, these changes in the brain can cause OCD, and severe anxiety.

The symptoms of these mental disorders can be temporary or permanent.

In my personal opinion, if the mother already had a predisposition for mental illness (such as my mother had metal illness , alcoholism and was mentally abusive) then she will be more likely to have a more permanent change in the neurology of her brain after childbirth.

Personally , my OCD and generalized anxiety became worse after I had my first baby. The feeling of needing to protect her in this world that had already caused me mental damage, was frightening.

It has gotten worse for me as my children have gotten to be preteen and teen.  I feel more helpless to protect them as they are older. When they were babies and small children, I always had them glued to me. Here is a quote from the article.

“Because a lot of things do change, of course, but for new mothers, some of the starkest differences are also the most intimate ones—the emotional changes. Which, it turns out, are also largely neurological.

Even before a woman gives birth, pregnancy tinkers with the very structure of her brain, several neurologists told me. After centuries of observing behavioral changes in new mothers, scientists are only recently beginning to definitively link the way a woman acts with what’s happening in her prefrontal cortex, midbrain, parietal lobes, and elsewhere. Gray matter becomes more concentrated. Activity increases in regions that control empathy, anxiety, and social interaction. On the most basic level, these changes, prompted by a flood of hormones during pregnancy and in the postpartum period, help attract a new mother to her baby. In other words, those maternal feelings of overwhelming love, fierce protectiveness, and constant worry begin with reactions in the brain.”

If you have a chance to read this article, it is very worthwhile, especially if you have children and battle with mental illness.

What Happens to a Woman’s Brain When She Becomes a Mother

From joy and attachment to anxiety and protectiveness, mothering behavior begins with biochemical reactions.