5 Ways Medication Can Make You a Better Mom

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clouds windowThis week's big controversy in parenting: Moms on Meds! As in, Why are so many moms on psychiatric medications and how can we make them feel guilty and ashamed? It's not a new controversy, not by a longshot: "Mother's Little Helper" by The Rolling Stones came out in 1966, and the Valium-inspired lyrics are perfectly relevant 40 years later:

Kids are different today, I hear ev'ry mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down

And though she's not really ill, there's a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day

Times haven't changed that much, except now we have more choices -- it was a recent article about how Xanax helps one woman to "be a better mom" that re-ignited the "moms on meds" debate.

A debate which is, in theory, born out of some concern that we're suddenly, needlessly over-medicating moms for a range of unpleasant but normal maternal emotions: Sadness, anxiety, pessimism, insomnia, irritability, fatigue. A debate stemming from the belief that moms should be able to "pull themselves out of it." From the implication that mothers who "fall back" on psychiatric meds are either lazy or addicted or unstable -- unfit.

More from The Stir: Mothers on Meds Don't Need Your Judgment

Not only is this a dangerous, irresponsible argument for any medical professional to make, in my personal opinion, it's completely untrue. I know from experience that post-partum depression is real. So is post-post-partum depression tinged with anxiety and the occasional panic attack. So are maternally-induced insomnia and melancholy and a whole host of other motherhood-related emotional disorders that go beyond "unpleasant but normal" into "I can't function like this" territory. And I also know from experience that medication can help. A lot. So rather than question the validity or judge the morality of moms on meds, let's just look at a few ways psychiatric medications truly can help some of us to be better moms.

Meds can:

1. Help make the oftentimes terrifying world seem like a less terrifying place to raise children.

2. Lessen out-of-control mommy guilt (which, left unchecked, can lead to/aggravate depression).

3. Make it easier to manage the stress of juggling more work/family/life responsibilities than human beings are meant to juggle at one time.

4. Help regulate sleep patterns/avoid crippling fatigue.

5. Help keep the everyday emotional ups-and-downs of your children in perspective.

Obviously I'm not saying that every mom should be on meds or even that every mom currently on meds should be on meds, but I am saying some of us do need to be on meds, and that today's medications are a far better option than the methods of self-medication mothers (and others) were forced to resort to in the past. The stigma needs to go.

Do you think meds can help some of us to be better moms? How?


Image via the_stir/Flickr

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nonmember avatar Dee

Sorry but look at the numbers of people dying due to Rx mess and/or becoming terribly addicted and all your reasons look pretty irrational. I know because I almost lost my mon to a barrage of doc prescribed meds. Her detox was longer then a heroine addict's, and she almost died. So the best thing moms having trouble dealing is take a break, do yoga, meditate, keep your sleep as normal as possible and so on. every once in a great while it may be for the best to use meds but that should always be the LAST resort, carefully monitored, and only for people who are CLINICALLY depressed. I was a single teen mom who put in 20 hour days for years and struggled with numerous HUGE difficulties, I never popped a pill to cope. Instead I grew as a person and LEARNED how to deal and be healthy. I also didn't have more kids then I could handle. This is a terrible article. Please, no one listen. More stigma please so out kids HAVE mommies to come home to.

mommy... mommytojack0524

Legitimate doctor-prescribed medication taken in the dosage that is recommended, coupled with counseling...ok. Taking more than prescribed, doctor shopping, high-inducing dosages...that is a HUGE problem. 

lulou lulou

I think you need to do a lot of your own research.  Years ago I was put on a new allergy Rx twice a day.  Soon after I was having terrible trouble sleeping.  They put me on some sleeping pill Rx.  At least my pharmacist caught when I went to pick it up, that the allergy med I took before bed had a stimulant. 

Thats long been straightened out, but now am much more cautious of meds myself and family are on.  I also try to first alter conditions thru diet, like local honey for allergies, or cut things out, like msg for migraine prevention, or get to the root of the problem, like duct cleaning to avoid having to take the meds to begin with.

Pinkmani Pinkmani

My severe depression interferred with everything in my life. I was diagnosed as a teenager. And Lexapro has made my life SO much better. 

Memory loss: I couldn't tell you what I ate for breakfast or what we talked about 5 minutes ago. 

Driving: I would get distracted and start drifting into another lane or I would pray that someone would hit me head on

Family relationships: I was bitter and easily irritated. They were walking on thin ice because the smallest things would piss me off. 

Mocha... MochaCocoaBean

Approaching this from a "mom" perspective is asinine. How about we look at each other as human beings for a change? Some people, regardless of their parental staus, need to be evaluated for mental health reasons. And yes, new mothers especially are at risk for PPD. Let's open up a real coversation about mental health, not just make not-so-witty references to "mommy's little helper." Let's remove the stigma of depression and mental illness, let's make resources available to ALL women (and men too, novel idea), and let's talk about prescription drug abuse.


insei... inseineangel

Amen to that, MochaCocoaBean!

gogoh... gogohas2babies

Dee, you are 100% right. I think drug companies make money when doctors go a more conventional route of actually dealing with the problem and then as a last resort prescribing a med for issues. Medications are so readily available for anything. Its a money making business. Not to mention a lot of these drugs are new and not tested enough. And why is it people need these meds more than ever? I'm sorry but ya we all live a pretty busy life but compared to 100 years ago there is so much more available to us. Baffles me

nurse... nursemama88

The problem is a lot of people are afraid to ask for help because of the stigma. I know I was and I know I am not crazy. I was clinically diagnosed with PPD and at the time I did not want to accept even though something was seriously wrong...I just thought it was hormones and lack of sleep. However crying all day every day, contemplating divorce, not bonding with baby, and feeling bitter and numb is not normal. My OB put me on Celexa and I feel great. Do I still have bad days? Of course but I can cope and function in a rational manner. To tell you the truth I am back to my ood self from pre pregnancy. I am not ashamed to be on an antidepressant (now) and nobody should ever be shamed for getting help. It has made me a better mother, wife, daughter, employee, and all around person because I actually enjoy life.

gogoh... gogohas2babies

"I think drug companies make money when doctors go a more conventional route of actually dealing with the problem and then as a last resort prescribing a med for issues."

I meant to say drug companies don't make money when doctors go a more conventional route

nonmember avatar Dee

PPD is one of the few examples where women suffering probably should go on meds because your body/hormones are out of whack and we've all seen stories of how bad it can get. But they should be low dosage and mom should be weaned off ASAP, usually with 6 months when the bodies back to more normal. But for instance I had a family member die young& tragically and was very sad & depressed for quite a while. Lots of people told me I should take meds. Why? My feelings were totally normal in the circumstances and I had to deal with my grief & recover. That's healthy & normal, I wasn't suicidal, went to work, took care of kids, etc. I was just sad & depressed for a while. There are times in life when that's how it is, we have to deal with it, not pop a pill so we're not sad. It's so not worth it in the long run.

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