Tag Archives: complications

Recognizing Postpartum Depression

Dealing with Postpartum Depression

Giving birth can cause a number of powerful emotions, especially as your hormones change. While you’re experiencing overwhelming joy, you may also feel anxiety or fear. These rapid changes can trigger postpartum depression for many women.

Baby Blues

Many new moms experience something called the baby blues after giving birth. This usually starts in the first few days after delivery and can last up to 2 weeks. Signs of these blues include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble sleeping or concentrating
  • Issues with appetite

But some new moms experience a more severe period of depression called postpartum depression.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

1 in 7 women will struggle with postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a serious depression disorder that affects women after childbirth or miscarriage. This depression can then make it difficult to recover from childbirth and care for and bond with a newborn.

This is a complication from giving birth, not a character flaw or weakness. While there are many risk factors for developing it, there are some causes that might be to blame.

Doctors believe that one of the causes of postpartum depression is the radical drop in your estrogen and progesterone levels that can trigger emotional responses.

Other causes include sleep deprivation and the load of emotional situations layered on top of one another. These issues might include:

  • Dealing with complications from childbirth
  • Feeling less attractive
  • Struggling with your sense of identity
  • Concerns about being a new parent

Symptoms typically begin a few weeks after childbirth, although they can also appear later. For many, these feelings are most intense at the beginning and ease over time. Postpartum depression can last up to 6 months after giving birth.

Risk Factors

Any new mom can experience postpartum depression, but your risk might be higher if you have:

  • Trouble breastfeeding
  • Multiple births, like twins
  • A newborn with health problems or special needs
  • A personal or family history of depression or other mood disorders
  • Experienced depression after previous pregnancies
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Had stress over the last year, like pregnancy complications, illness, or major negative life changes
  • Issues in your relationship with your significant other, support system, or finances
  • Doubts about the pregnancy because it was unplanned or unwanted

Knowing these risk factors can help you recognize your risk before giving birth. Then you can plan ahead with your doctor.

Prevention When You Know You’re at Risk

If you have a history of depression or postpartum depression, tell your doctor about it once you find out you’re pregnant.

During pregnancy, your doctor can keep an eye on any signs of depression. They may also have you take depression screenings before and after delivery. They might recommend support groups or counseling, or even antidepressants in some cases.

After your baby’s born, they might also recommend a postpartum checkup to check for depression. The earlier they find it, the earlier they can start treatment.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs that you might be struggling with postpartum depression include:

  • Trouble bonding or caring for your newborn
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Feelings of sadness, sometimes overwhelming, and crying excessively
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Anger and irritability
  • Severe or sudden mood swings
  • Feelings of hopelessness, restlessness, worthlessness, shame, guilt, or worry that you’re not good enough
  • Cutting yourself off from loved ones
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue, loss of energy, and trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest in things you once loved
  • Trouble thinking clearly, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Dwelling on thoughts of death or suicide

Complications

If left untreated, postpartum depression can cause long-term issues in your family. It can last for months and sometimes become a chronic depression issue.

It can also interfere with your ability to bond with your baby, which can impact them in the future. Children of mothers who suffered from untreated postpartum depression have more emotional and behavioral problems. They’re more likely to:

  • Cry excessively
  • Have development issues, especially delays in language skills
  • Have trouble sleeping

Treatment

Many people feel guilty or embarrassed that they’re depressed after giving birth, which can make it hard to admit they’re struggling. But it’s time to see the doctor if your symptoms:

  • Don’t fade after 2 weeks
  • Get worse
  • Make it hard to care for your baby or complete normal tasks
  • Include thoughts of self-harm

Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms, rule out other issues, and might ask for you to take a screening or questionnaire to learn more.

From there, they’ll help you decide on the best treatment depending on how serious it is and your medical history. Common types of treatment include:

  • Therapy where you talk with a mental health professional in a safe environment
  • Support groups for new mothers
  • Medication, like antidepressants
  • Healthy lifestyle choices, like getting plenty of sleep and water, a healthy diet, and regular exercise

If you have suicidal thoughts or think about harming your baby, it’s important to talk to your loved ones and get help from your doctor as soon as possible.

If you need help immediately, call a suicide hotline, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Postpartum Depression in Fathers

New dads can also have postpartum depression, making them feel sad, fatigued, overwhelmed, or filled with anxiety.

Young fathers with a history of depression, relationship problems, or financial issues are the most at risk. It’s also more likely if the mother is also struggling with depression.

Left untreated, it can have the same negative effects on relationships and child development that a mother’s postpartum depression can.

If you’re a new father dealing with symptoms of depression or anxiety during your partner’s pregnancy or after your child’s birth, talk to your doctor. Similar treatments are available to help you.

Postpartum Psychosis

In extremely rare cases, mothers can also experience postpartum psychosis. This condition is more severe and dangerous. Symptoms usually develop within the first week after delivery and include:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Agitation and obsessive thoughts about your baby
  • Attempts to harm yourself or your baby

Postpartum psychosis is very serious and can lead to life-threatening thoughts and actions. It needs immediate attention and treatment. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience or see signs of it.

Helping a Loved One

People with depression may not see the signs in themselves or may struggle to acknowledge they’re depressed at a moment usually portrayed as nothing but joyous. If you suspect that a loved one is struggling with postpartum depression or is developing postpartum psychosis, talk to them and their support system about getting help immediately.

Waiting and hoping for improvement is dangerous. Talking about postpartum depression as a normal part of pregnancy for many women helps them feel better about their struggles with it.

As this issue is talked about more in the public, more women will recognize the signs and feel comfortable talking about it and dealing with it.

Pregnancy Health Problems

Pregnancy Health Problems

If you have a preexisiting health problem or develop a new one during your pregnancy, you may need more care. Pregnancy health problems that can occur include:

Blood Pressure Related Conditions

While your blood pressure is always an important part of your overall health, when you’re pregnant, it becomes even more important to monitor it. High blood pressure can constrict the blood vessels in your uterus that supply your baby with oxygen and nutrients.

Chronic Hypertension

This is high blood pressure before you become pregnant. If you have it, it won’t go away after you deliver.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

Your doctor may prescribe medication or liestyle changes. If you’re already on hypertension meds, talk to your doctor before trying to conceive. ACE inhibitors, a common kind of blood pressure meds, can be bad for your baby.

Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH)

Some women develop high blood pressure about 20 weeks into their pregnancy. PIH will usually go away after you deliver.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

PIH can be controlled with meds during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia

This is high blood pressure and protein in your urine that usually develops after 30 weeks. 25% of women who have PIH develop this too.

There are usually no signs, the only way to diagnose it is with blood pressure monitoring.

Preeclampsia can be controlled with meds during pregnancy.

HELLP syndrome

This is a variation of preeclampsia that’s diagnosed by blood tests. It stands for the conditions you develop:

  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Low platelets

Most women with HELLP have high blood pressure, and other symptoms include fatigue, severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, and swelling.

The only treatment is to deliver your baby. HELLP is very serious and requires care from a doctor.

Gestational Diabetes

Even if you don’t have diabetes before you get pregnant, you can develop gestational diabetes. It will go away after you have your baby, but during your pregnancy, you may be required to follow a special diet, exercise, or take insulin.

Environmental Risk

Certain substances can be harmful to your baby, raising the risk of birth defects and miscarriage. Chemicals to avoid include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Lead in water or paint
  • Some cleaners
  • Pesticides
  • Mercury in tuna and other fish
  • Cat litter boxes

Talk to your doctor about how to avoid these chemicals and what to do if you come in contact with any of them.

Chicken Pox

While most women are immune if they’ve had chicken pox or the vaccine before, it can be dangerous if you catch it while pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you come in contact with someone who has it or if you believe you have it.

HIV/AIDS

You can pass HIV/AIDS to your baby during pregnancy, labor, or delivery if you already have it. You can take meds to protect your baby during your pregnancy, just talk to your doctor about it.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

If you have an STI, it can cause your baby to be born blind, deaf, or even stillborn. Medication can usually help protect your baby during pregnancy and delivery. Tell your doctor right away if you have an STI or develop one while you are pregnant.

Taking Time to Relax

Vantage Point: It’s Time to Relax

Relaxation is the state of being free from tension and anxiety. When I think of relaxation, I imagine myself having no to-do list, sitting back, and watching my son play. Now that I’m raising a family, I understand the importance of taking time to just relax.

On the weekends, I tend to clean my house top to bottom. I get so focused on these tasks that by the time I’m done with my chores, I realize it’s already 5 o’clock on Saturday evening. I get so upset with myself because I spent a whole day cleaning instead of taking a stroll in the park, going on a hike with my family, or just sitting in the backyard and enjoying the nice summer weather.

Then, I rush to get myself together to go do something “fun” before night falls. This defeats the whole purpose of relaxing because I’m so tired by the end of the day, I don’t even get to enjoy the activities with my family.

I now more than ever see why it’s so important to take time to relax. Time and time again, I hear about all of the benefits of relaxation, like lowering blood pressure, increasing blood flow to major muscles, improving sleep quality, and much more. I need to be the best version of me so I can be around and have a good time with my family.

This summer, I am trying something new. I’m giving myself small tasks to do at home every day after work, so when the weekend comes around, my workload isn’t so big. I’m also giving myself a set time frame to clean each Saturday morning. When I’m all done, it’s usually time for my son to take a midday nap, which gives me some dedicated “me time.” When he wakes up, I’m relaxed and ready to have some family fun.

So far, I’m really enjoying my new approach to handling my time. Sometimes, relaxing is much harder than setting up a new plan. There are a lot of reasons you might need a new plan too, like a diagnosis that requires you to try a different approach.

When that happens, our case managers are here to help you make your new plan work in lots of way. They can provide motivation, tools, and lifestyle skills to help minimize your risk of complications and share resources that are available in your community.

So get started finding a plan that works for you, and don’t forget to take some time to relax this summer.

Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.
Rifling Through the History of Diabetes

The History of Diabetes

Deciphering Diabetes

Diabetes 101

Diabetes’ Reach

Diabetes affects 29.1 million people in the U.S., a whopping 9.4% of our population. That number has doubled in the last 10 years. And each year, it costs Americans more than $245 billion.

Worldwide, it affects more than 380 million people.  And the World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, that number of people living with it will more than double.

Diabetes is also the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart failure, and stroke.

What Is Diabetes?

When you eat food, your body turns it into sugar. Then, your body releases a chemical called insulin, which opens up your cells so they can take in that sugar and turn it into energy.

Diabetes is a group of diseases that breaks that system, causing there to be too much sugar in your blood, or high blood glucose.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is normally diagnosed in kids, and it’s the more serious kind. Its is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the cells that create insulin.

Without insulin, sugar builds up in the blood, starving your cells. This can cause eye, heart, nerve, and kidney damage, and in serious cases, can result in comas and death.

 Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind of diabetes, and it’s frequently called adult-onset diabetes because it’s usually diagnosed when you’re over 35.

People with this form of it produce some insulin, just not enough. And sometime, the insulin isn’t able to open the cells, which is called insulin resistance.

While many people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or inactive, there is a new group of patients emerging—young, slim females. Molecular imaging expert Jimmy Bell, MD, calls this condition TOFI, thin outside, fat inside.

Instead of building up below the skin’s surface, fat gathers on their abdominal organs, which is more dangerous. Risk factors for these women include a lack of exercise, daily stress, and yo-yo dieting.

Gestational Diabetes

Some pregnant women who didn’t have diabetes before and won’t have it after develop a form called gestational diabetes.

Your high blood sugar can cause your baby to make too much insulin. When this happens, their cells can absorb too much sugar, which their bodies then store as fat. This can raise their risk of a difficult birth and breathing problems.

Symptoms

Early detection is key to preventing serious complications from diabetes.

These are some common symptoms:

  • Peeing often
  • Feeling very thirsty or hungry, even though you’re eating
  • Extremely tired
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss, even though you are eating more (for type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands or feet (for type 2)

There are often no symptoms for gestational diabetes, so it’s important to get tested at the right time.

Does any of this sound like you? Learn more about how your doctor can test and diagnose you. And learn more about the different treatments.