It sneaks up on you. That feeling we all know too well. You’re trying to get the kids out of the door in the morning, you’re running late, your kid will not put their shoes on and then it happens. You snap. Yell. Threaten to take the iPad away and so on. Irritability, anger, and agitation are becoming a more common part of your personality. You start seeing it affect your relationship with the people you love the most. Your spouse and kids usually get the worst of it. Afterwards you always feel guilty and wished you would’ve handled that situation better.

Many people do not know that anger, agitation and irritability are common symptoms of anxiety. When we are stressed and overwhelmed we are more vulnerable to being triggered by little things. We have a hard time seeing the light at the end of the tunnel because it feels like the tunnel is slowly closing in on us.

It helps to start being more aware of days/times/situations that you find yourself getting angry and irritable. Is it always the morning? Or maybe it starts to set in on the commute home from work when dinner, homework and bedtime loom over you. Check-in with yourself and start keeping a note on your phone of days/times when you get irritable. You’ll probably start noticing a pattern with your behavior. The basic awareness will be helpful as you get ready to walk-in and face the particular situations that set you off.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are becoming angry and agitated, it may help to validate the way you are feeling. We have a tendency to race through the day having different thoughts and feeling different emotions. We usually experience the thought or feeling and never give it a second thought. Validating your feelings, while it may sound cheesy, is a great way to acknowledge something you are experiencing and give it a name. If you find yourself losing your temper with your kids, validate the irritation you are feeling. “I’m irritated because my kids aren’t listening to me and I’m running late for a meeting at work.” Saying this to yourself helps you pause in the moment and allows for you to choose a different interaction.

Finally, it’s important to communicate with the people important to you. If you find yourself always taking your anger out on your spouse, talk to them. Let them know that you’ve noticed (and are sure they also notice) that you’ve been on edge lately. Tell them how they can help you in the moment. Let them know you are more aware of how you are feeling and that you are working on making better choices with your actions and words.


Hillary Pilotto, MA, LCPC is a licensed clinical therapist with New Dawn Wellness Group. She is trained in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. She sees patients at both Oak Lawn and Orland Park location.

Mondays Moment for Moms

I love when I can focus on Gratitude. A good way to start is by paying attention to a single positive. For example, I am grateful for my new coffee cup. Or, I am grateful we left the house without screaming. 😉 Then expand that to relationships, victories and meeting your goals.
Kathryn Gardner, LCPC, is the Co-founder and Clinical Therapist at New Dawn Wellness Group. A specialty counseling office for women in Oak Lawn and Orland Park, IL. We specialize in pregnancy, fertility, perinatal loss, postpartum wellness and Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders.

Who’s Got My Back?

“It takes a village” have you heard that one before? It’s one of the many parent-isms that we hear on this journey through raising our kids. Support. It’s one of the first places I go with a new client in our first session because it’s THAT important. So many moms I work with tell me that they have trouble delegating or asking for help. Whether it is babysitting for a date night or that person you lean on for advice because she is a few years ahead of you in this parenting game, we all need the support of other people. There are 4 main categories for support and I think it’s important to start generating your list of people you can call on when you need it.

  1. Emotional: this category we think of when hear the word “support”. Who will listen to you vent? Who is someone who you trust that will be there and listen with no judgement?
  2. Instrumental: help or service. Who is the person that, in a pinch, will run over and watch your kids if you need it?
  3. Informational: advice, suggestions or information. Do you have that friend that seems to just know A LOT? Where are the best swim lessons? Any after school-care options in our area? Where is a great restaurant for date night? Does teething EVER end? These friends are in the know and we should use them to our full advantage. Ask away.
  4. Appraisal: has information that is useful for self-evaluation. Who is that person that will be honest with you and tell it like it is? Who will point out your strengths, but will let you know if something doesn’t seem like a good idea. Who’s the person who will tell you how your butt really looks in those jeans?

It is not easy to give up control and let other’s help you. We are supposed to be able to do it all and do it really well even if it is at the risk of burnout and compromising our mental and physical health. This may be a good time to take inventory of who is on your list of supports. Who has your back?

Hillary Pilotto, MA, LCPC is a licensed clinical therapist with New Dawn Wellness Group. She is trained in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. She sees patients at both Oak Lawn and Orland Park location.

Is this normal?

The moment we decide to have a baby (or get surprised by that positive pregnancy test), this is a question we will ask ourselves over and over again. It starts with the physical, ‘What was that pain? Is spotting normal? How many times should the baby move?’ These questions are all things your OB-GYN or midwife can help answer for you. But what about the other symptoms? The ones that are not so easily noticed? ‘Why am I not excited about this pregnancy? Why do I cry all the time? Why am I so angry and irritable?’ These questions even plague us before we get pregnant. Women who are struggling with infertility battle with this question too.

This question may seem harmless, but it has the potential to light the little anxiety fire within us all. Women who have never struggled with anxiety or depression will start to feel the symptoms of anxiety once they get pregnant (or struggle to get pregnant). This gnawing feeling will walk with us throughout our journey to get pregnant, during pregnancy and postpartum. It will pop-up at the most inconvenient times like at our baby shower or birth class, after we put our newborn down to sleep and try to sleep get some rest ourselves, or after being alone with our baby and he or she won’t stop crying.

So, is this normal? The answer is YES. A 100x yes. It is normal to feel this way. I work with women all day long. Most are moms, some want to become a mom, and some aren’t sure yet. I hear them talk about the fear and worry that consume them. The sadness that keeps them from enjoying their baby.  Along with anxiety there is always a healthy dose of guilt thrown in because, you know, we aren’t struggling enough as is.

Okay, so it’s “normal” to feel this way. So many women struggle with these thoughts and feelings. But, is it healthy? Absolutely not. Anxiety and depression rob you from the happiness that you deserve. It clouds your thoughts and filters your outlook on your life, family, self. You do not have to keep feeling this way. There is help out there that will support you through this time. You will start feeling better.


Hillary Pilotto, MA, LCPC is a licensed clinical therapist with New Dawn Wellness Group. She is trained in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. She sees patients at both Oak Lawn and Orland Park location.


New Dawn Wellness Group provides specialized care and support for women and their families coping with and improving reproductive and perinatal health.

Mondays Moment for Moms

I had such a refreshing and recharging weekend on a CRHP women’s retreat. Over and over I heard, “Let me get that for you.” What a gesture of love! If you can lend a hand, do so; if you need help, ask for it.

Mondays Moment for Moms

Sleep is so hard to come by, especially if you are taking care of a child overnight. To fall back asleep, focus on a color in your mind, count or practice the lyrics to a song to distract the mind from over-thinking.