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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Cassandra Huber

Yes, if you truly need it. Too many doctors are quick to overmedicate, and in turn creating people dependent on medications they most likely never needed.

nonmember avatar Dee

Like the response from the mom who took them for a while to help her to where she could get back on track and then went off and has learned other mechanisms. For most w/out serious PPD and aren't in danger of hurting themselves or others, that's how it should be used. Temporarily, whilst you figure out other means. BTW, I saw someone after having missed a Lexapro 1day suffer withdrawal that almost needed an ER visit. Personally, I'd have to be ready to kill someone before I'd put that poison in my body. And to the smarty pants who said Rxs aren't like heroine, you are ignorant. Many of the meds chemically are illegal drugs, but with time release and a new name. Again, I've done the research, I was astonished to find Ritalin is cocaine with time release and a color and a few "inactive" ingredients added. That's why kids grind it, removing time release, snort it, and get high. Before anyone says anything else stupid while calling someone stupid no less, why don't you fact check. That writer clearly had no idea WTF SHE's talking about. Be careful ladies, knowledge is power.

Wheep... Wheepingchree

I don't know how I feel about medication - I was severely over-medicated (all psychotropics) when I was a teen, because my mother didn't know how to deal with the root of any of my problems.  So, I'm skeptical of it.  However, I can say that because of such a huge stigma on mental illness, I was terrified to talk to anybody about the HORRID things I was feeling in the 18 months following my daughter's birth.  I couldn't be in my car without thinking about getting into an accident.  I began self-mutilating.  I cried constantly.  I was so scared that they would take my daughter away from me and lock me up for what I was thinking.  I never got help.  I'm okay now.  I am pregnant with our second child and have expressed all of my troubles with depression and also plan to encapsulate my placenta to alleviate serious hormonal changes after birth.  I wish it were easier to talk to doctors about depression.  No one should feel ashamed.

LolaLoo LolaLoo

Personally, I would never take anything that could alter my behavior and change my parenting. I wouldn't take the risk. I have anti-depressents, but I never took them, and I probably never will. If you have a spouse or someone in the home to watch your behavior, meds might be okay I suppose, but if you're a single parent, and alone with your child/children, it is FAR too risky to take meds like those , especially because no one can monitor you and make sure you're not acting strangely or different. Just my opinion. 

justj123 justj123

Try growing up with a mother who never told you that she loved you but called you a whore/bitch/slut everyday of your life. (And still does)Having tell your father passed away and her first words are "Looks like your screwed now?" Telling your family your pregnant and being told that you need a baby like you need a hole in your head. Everyday being told that you do not have "a pot to piss in" and you will never have anything better than she does, and have her trying to take your 2 year old son away from you because you are filing for a divorce.  Then I have a job for 17 years and I have a car wreck and I am on short term disability and after 6 months my job is terminated, without my knowledge. YES I have MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER and I take 2 pills a day to help me.  Even now I cry everyday, but I am working on trying to get better but the road is VERY, VERY LONG and HARD, when you can not drive and you live within walking distance.  I can not imagine I would have made it thru my high school years much less college and my young adult years.  I am in my late 40's now.  SOMETIMES medicine is the ONLY answer.  Like the saying goes...Until you have walked in MY SHOES.,.Do NOT judge ME.

nonmember avatar Dee

@justj, sorry honey, been in those shoes and worse. Also had recurring cancer, abusive, vindictive ex, has brother murdered for being in the wrong place/time, had to support mom and sis after that for almost a year as she couldn't work and I could go on and on. Life is very hard. But popping pills just opens a whole new world of problems that make the ones you already had worse. Medicine is NOT the only answer for life being tough.

sasan... sasandbug

Ok...For YEARS AND YEARS,  I was completely against taking anything for anything, I didnt want to "cover up" what was going on. 

But then something happened, I was in the middle of a divorce from my abusive husband, I was going out waaaaay to much and doing stupid things (not drugs) , I was driving home from...(one of the darkest moments of my life) and I was still drunk in the morning, but had to get home to my little girl. I shouldnt have been driving, really I knew this.....I remember swerving and "snapping back in it" right before I would of had a head on collision with a tree.............at first I was shocked, then I cried hysterically, I wasnt crying tho because I made it out alive but because I wished that I didnt....I was soooooo damn depresssed and sad...I hated the person I had become

Now I have alprazolam for my anxiety and citalopram for my depression. This are a god-sent, I only take them when I feel that feeling I know all to well, most of the time I can control it, BUT I can tell when its going to be one of those times,  I cannot thank my doctor enough  for listening to me and giving me these to help me along, I also thank all my family for being so supportive and NOT JUDGING ME FOR TAKING PILLS!!!!   

Lacey Tierney

And yet another toic for parents to compare and judge each other, making blanket statements that X is SO MUCH BETTER than Y and X worked so well when I was a single mother at 18 working 24 hours a day and walking uphill both ways in the snow barefoot. Blah blah blah

Why can we not just support each other? RX doesn't work for everyone. Yoga and meditation don't work for everyone.

nonmember avatar Dee

I keep posting on this because mothers are dying every day to this nonsense everyday and I've lived enough of that not wish it on anybody. It's a kind of tough love that hopefully might save even one mom or child from the suffering. And sadly, most people don't even know the danger. So I'll keep telling the truth and some will be offended and I don't care. I can not support the slow self suicide of a generation of parents from Rx meds. Sorry, to me that's like supporting racism or genocide. But hey if you're good with it -be "supportive" of the lies, danger, and addiction. No thanks

nonmember avatar melmcl

I think the prescription drug abuse this country has is absolutely out of control! I do have friends that have needed anti-anxiety or depression medication. None have taken it long term. I also have a niece who is bi-polar, she needs strong medication in order to function at all and must take them on a schedule. 2 totally different situations. You do not need a pill to "fix" yourself. This article is scaring me - as that is what it is saying to me.

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