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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Jaime Swift Sundin

Amelia have you got to be the biggest freaking idiot on the planet, and please tell me you do not have children because you for one should not be procreating.  To state that crack and an anti depressant are the same thing is just BS and you have got to be the least educated person on the planet.

nonmember avatar Tickles

Do yoga and meditate Instead of taking rx from a doctor? Apparently some of your readers are mothers of the damn year an make the rest of us feel like shit. This was a great article. It made me feel not so alone. And I am not ashamed of the meds I have to take to keep myself even keeled an cool headed. AND little miss smarty pants with the yoga bullshit- I do workout. I've been in martial arts for the past 13 years. I do yoga every morning. I have 3 dogs that go for mile walks every day. And I work. So if I need some meds to keep me on this earth for my little girl- then so be it. And any other moms going thru the same shit? Let your freak flag fly and ignore the ignorant.

Charli Cardenas-Rahe

I'm almost positive my mom is bipolar, but she refuses to go see someone about it and she says she's "not one to take pills". I've discussed this with my sisters whom both have been diagnosed with being bipolar with anxiety (I have not), and they agree that she would benefit greatly from something that would help her anxiety and her mood swings. I do think that pills are handed out like candy now a days but you have but to meet someone off their meds with the actual "issue" to know that they need help. I feel like I should add that my mom eats a well balanced diet and exercises regulalrly, so it's definitely a chemical balance issue. I think she'd  (we'd) have had a very different life if she felt like she wouldn't have been judged for seeking help.

MrNmrs Blessed Lane

I am guilty of being on one of the meds to help keep me "sane" and there should be nothing wrong with doing so as long as its done in the correct manner. I have never been much of a med taker and would read the directions every time even before taking 1 tylenol! After the birth of my 4th child I wasnt bonding with my baby, my marriage was a mess, I was out of work, depressed, not eating, BAD anxiety and almost daily panic attacks, er visits, testing, you name it! I finally gav in and tried the first anti depressant-Lexapro. It has helped tremendously!! I still have "off" days but it helps me cope much better, I can think clearly now, no more crying. I, with faith and prayer will be off it soon when life settles down a bit, but for now I will not feel guilty for needing something to help because I am not abusing it.

leigh... leighhemanes

You women judging other mom's for NEEDING medication instead of just "getting over it and growing up" are the problem!!!! I know from personal experience how bad post partum depression can get. I could not even function, much less get up and take care of a baby. If it had not been for some help from medication my son would not have been taken care of. Everyone is different and goes through their own struggles. How dare you judge a mother because she has a problem she can't deal with on her own and needs medication. Shame on you!!!!!!angry

ladyb... ladybumblebee

I think being addicted to Xanax vs. an unstable home environment and a detoured family is much safer if taken within the safe limits.  It would have done my family wonders!  Instead I was given everything except an anti-anxiety even though it was that that initially worked!  Sometimes personal opinions should be kept just that.........PERSONAL.  People need to actually be LISTENED to rather then judged.  @ mochacocoabean you are right in the fact that society needs to be treated as a whole, however THIS PARTICULAR ARTICLE was about "moms" and their pills.  No, the topic should not ALWAYS have to be about everyone.

Kelli Jahn

After I had my son I had horrible anxiety and depression. I refused to take medication because I didn't want to become dependent. One day my husband told me that I wasn't pleasant to be around anymore. I noticed that I wasn't patient with my kids and I was unable to spend the time I wanted with them without being frustrated. I finally went to the doctor and agreed to take a low dose of a anti-anxiety/anti-depression medication. Afer three weeks of finding my dosage I was a new person!!!! I loved life again and I was able to devote the time to my kids that they deserve! I am not on medication now because I have changed my entire life style. I am healthy, I work out regularly, I practice yoga and meditation, and have learned how to focus on the positive. Although I am not on medicaiton now, I know that there is no way that I would be where I am today if I hadn't used it to help me make changes.

nonmember avatar perro911

hmm....not sure why do people are so convinced that our brains are perfect and that mental health requires no medications....hello, the brain is an organ just like every other and yes its not perfect.....just like someone needing meds for kidney, heart or similar issues....why are people expecting our brains to be "perfect" and be able to function w/o meds to those that need it?

gamma4 gamma4

Imo rx are given out way too much to whining ppl to shut them up...if you NEED meds by all means take as needed and prescribed ...like someone said just being normal sad cuz of life problems doesn't need meds ( too many docs would prescribe for :-( )

nonmember avatar Krista

I have been on Zoloft for about 2 years now. My daughter will be 3 in June. I really wish when I had her that I had gone to the doc earlier than I did but I am thankful that I realized that I needed help before it was too late. It was because of the stigma that I did suffer and where did it get me? I didn't bond with my daughter like I should have, I hated everyone, I wasn't sleeping, and I probably won't be having anymore children. It's not worth it! I still have a stressful job, and the stress of being a mom, but at least now I am better able to handle it.

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