Tag Archives: doctor

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.

National Depression Education & Awareness Month

National Depression Education & Awareness Month

It’s National Depression Education & Awareness Month, and depression affects over 19 million people in the U.S.

There are several types of depression, but the most common one is major depression. Symptoms of major depression stop you from enjoying your daily life for at least 2 weeks straight.

Major Depression

 

Postpartum depression affects mothers after giving birth and can make it difficult to bond with or even care for their new babies.

Postpartum Depression

 

Seasonal affective disorder is a common kind of depression where your mood is affected by the changes in the seasons, and the colder months of the year drain you of energy.

Fighting SAD

 

Depression can be caused by genetics, trauma, stress, brain structure, brain chemistry, substance abuse, and even other conditions like sleep issues, ADHD, and chronic pain.

Reasons for Depression

 

While symptoms can vary, adults suffering from depression usually feel overwhelmed with sadness. Children and teens are more likely to be irritable. Women also tend to note anxiety, while men report aggression.

The Differences in Depression Symptom

 

80 to 90% of those who seek depression treatment will get the help they need. Antidepressants are a powerful treatment, and there are more treatment options than ever, from therapy to meditation and yoga.

How Treatment Can Help Depression

 

Depression is tied to a higher risk of suicidal behavior. If you or someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s important to talk to a doctor.

If you need to talk to someone immediately, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Getting Help for Suicidal Thoughts

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

Millions struggle with substance abuse, including underage drinking, alcoholism, prescription drug abuse, and illicit drug use. It costs our communities an estimated $193 billion. Learn more with us for National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.

Caring adults that children can trust and talk to can make all the difference in helping prevent substance abuse in young people. Support the young people in your life.

Supportive Adults and Substance Abuse

 

Self-confidence, self-image, and self-control are all key qualities that can help individuals avoid substance abuse, especially in young people.

Self-Confidence and Substance Abuse

 

Being comfortable in social situations can help you avoid substance abuse too. Having the confidence and ability to tell people no, avoid peer pressure, and make responsible choices in social situations is very important to never trying drugs or abusing alcohol.

Making Smart Social Choices

 

Don’t become isolated. Make sure you build a community of support for all things in your life. Not only is this an important factor in reducing symptoms of depression, but it’s also a key factor in preventing substance abuse.

Build Community to Prevent Substance Abuse

 

Some people may be predisposed toward substance abuse based on genetics and heredity. Know your family’s history and keep this in mind when talking to your doctor about prescriptions and making personal choices around substances like alcohol.

Family History and Substance Abuse

 

Opioid use is on the rise, and back pain is a leading cause of it. Learn more about avoiding substance abuse while treating your pain.

My Healthy Journey: Chronic Back Pain

Pain Awareness Month

Pain Awareness Month

It’s Pain Awareness Month. Many kinds of health conditions can cause chronic pain, and these resources can help you start managing that pain.

Resources for Your Pain

 

Almost all sufferers of chronic pain end up in the ER at some point. How can you be prepared and what can you expect?

E.R. Visits for Pain

 

Pain management programs and your pain management team are key to getting your pain under control.

Managing Your Pain with Your Team

 

If your pain limits your ability to perform these simple tasks, it’s time to talk to your doctor.

Pain Limiting Your Day

 

One of the most common types of chronic pain is back pain. This tool can help you describe your back pain in better detail and track your pain over time.

Migraines are a common cause of chronic pain. This guide can help you talk about your migraine pain with your doctor at your next visit.

Ongoing Headache Pain

 

Be ready to talk to your doctor at your next appointment about what’s happened with your last visit by filling out this summary.

Talking About Pain with Your Doctor

Homesickness in College Students

How to Deal with Homesickness in College

One of the main causes of distress in students is homesickness. According to the UCLA Higher Education Institute, over 30% of college students experience low-level homesickness, and about 69% of first year college students experience severe homesickness.

Homesickness is more than the concept of missing home or missing family — it’s the feeling of longing and feeling out of place. Whether they’re nearby, out-of-state, or studying in a foreign country, college students are not only experiencing a new phase of life, but they’re also at a new school, in a new place.

Although it’s normal to feel homesick, wanting to enjoy a home-cooked meal with family or not wanting to deal with adult responsibilities and academic pressures may quickly make homesickness grow. Homesickness builds in waves and can turn into more serious mental health issues if not taken seriously.

Last year, Assist America worked on a severe case of homesickness, helping an 18-year-old student from Germany who was hospitalized after his homesickness transformed into serious depressive episodes.

In the weeks leading up to his hospitalization, the student had shown increased signs of homesickness, including mentioning that he wanted to go home, a decrease in the desire to participate in activities and social events, and suicidal thoughts.

After a while, his roommates told the university staff about his behavior, and he was later admitted to the hospital. Once he was stable, Assist America arranged for transportation supervised by a medical escort to take him back to Germany.

Tips for Overcoming Homesickness

Some preventive measures can be taken by both parents and students to help overcome homesickness.

For Parents

  • You can help your child prepare for college life by visiting the campus ahead of time so they can familiarize themselves with its surroundings.

  • In the years before college, consider sending your child to summer camps, activities, or to visit family away from home , so they can gradually learn to deal with separation anxiety.

  • Avoid expressing your own anxiety about your child leaving for college in front of them. Instead, talk optimistically and positively about their new experiences to come.

  • Encourage your child to find trusted friends and adults on campus. These relationships will help them build connections in their new community and ease the transition.

  • Consider sending little surprise care packages to your child. Include their favorite cookies or candies, a new book, gift cards to their favorite stores, a letter, and a funny family photo.

  • Make the most of technology. Staying in touch on the phone or through video chat is easier than ever and can help the whole family feel connected.

For Students

  • Stay engaged in campus activities. Many colleges organize welcome week events to help students get used to college culture.

  • Establish and stick to a daily routine, even if it’s difficult to stay on track with exams and events around every corner. Routines are good for dealing with stress and anxiety and will help you adjust to your new community and class schedule.

  • Feeling homesick is normal, as long as you can handle the situation. To help battle feelings of loneliness, keep a family picture on your study table, video-chat often, or go old-school and write letters to family and friends back home.

  • Find ways to reward yourself as you make gains in your new routine. For instance, after submitting an important assignment or taking a big exam, take some time to do something fun or treat yourself with something you like.

  • If campus is only a drive away, you and your parents and friends can plan a few weekends throughout the school year to visit each other on campus, at home, or to meet at a halfway-point.

  • When packing for college, take some of your favorite decorations from your room to make your new room feel more like home.

  • Know what services are available to you to help you cope with homesickness. Too often students don’t realize all the things their college has ready to help them with exactly these issues. Never shy away from seeking advice from a trusted adult on campus about these services. Or you can look into these services privately on your school’s website.

While Studying Abroad

  • Students who study abroad are even more likely to feel homesick since they have to adjust to a whole new culture and lifestyle, learn to speak a new language, and meet all new people from many backgrounds.

  • A challenge while studying abroad is knowing who you can ask questions and how and where to get help. Before leaving, create a reference list with the names, contact details, and roles of people that will be helpful during your stay. Once you arrive, be sure to add anyone important you meet to your list. 

  • Schools often have an international student department who will organize welcome events and get-togethers. Be sure to attend those activities, especially at the beginning of your time abroad.

  • Many international programs also have Facebook groups where former and new students can exchange tips and experiences. Joining these groups to make connections and prepare before leaving home.

  • Make friends with people from the same country as you. When you’re missing home, spend time together. Your shared experience of studying abroad can make you feel a little closer to home.

How Assist America Can Help

Assist America provides useful services that can reassure parents and students studying out-of-state or abroad.

For example, Assist America can help students find where and how they can refill certain prescriptions before they even leave home, so they can plan their departure with peace of mind.

Students who know they will need to see a doctor while away from home can call us or Assist America for referrals. Assist America also provides emergency trauma counseling for students on the phone, with referrals for follow-up sessions with specialists.

Finally, students going to a foreign country can use the Pre-Trip Information tool on Assist America’s website and the mobile app to familiarize themselves with their destination.

App Store Google Play

 

 

 

App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google LLC.

Herbal/Prescription Interaction Awareness Month

Herbal/Prescription Interaction Awareness Month

July is Herbal/Prescription Interaction Awareness Month. Just because something is natural or a “supplement” doesn’t mean it’s safe, especially if you’re taking other prescription drugs.

Herbal supplements with cranberry extract as a primary ingredient can interact with blood thinning medications, so you shouldn’t take both at the same time.

Cranberry Extract Interactions

 

Ginkgo, most commonly taken to improve memory, has been shown to interact with aspirin, diuretics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and blood thinners.

Ginko Interactions

 

Echinacea, largely used to fight the cold and flu, can interact with some chemotherapy agents, caffeine, liver medications, and meds that decrease your immune system.

Echinacea Interactions

 

Saw palmetto, a popular active ingredient in supplements, can be dangerous during pregnancy and can  interact with birth control, hormone therapy, and medication that prevents blood clots.

Saw Palmetto Interactions

 

Fish oils, taken for heart and bone health, may interact with high blood pressure meds, birth control, and some meds that prevent blood clots.

Fish Oils Interactions

 

Keep a list of all your prescriptions and supplements and talk to your doctor about them to make sure there aren’t any interactions. You can also learn more by reading warning labels on your medications or talking to your pharmacist.

Talking About Drug Interactions

Hemochromatosis Screening Awareness Month

Hemochromatosis Screening Awareness Month

It’s Hemochromatosis Screening Awareness Month, and hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder where your body accumulates too much iron.

Patients usually don’t show serious signs until they’re over 40 years old, so it’s important to get screened in routine blood tests.

Hemochromatosis is especially common in those from European ancestry, affecting approximately 1 in 400 of them. Talk to your doctor about when you should be screened.

Blood Test Screenings

 

If you suffer from hemochromatosis, your body absorbs too much iron from your diet, as much as 4x too much, and since your body only has a few ways to get rid of iron, it accumulates over time in your liver, bones, joints, pancreas, and skin.

Getting Screened for Hemochromatosis

 

The extra iron in your system can cause organ damage, and iron deposits can darken your skin. It can also increase your risk of diabetes, heart attack, arthritis, and some cancers.

Risks of Hemochromatosis

 

The wrong level of iron in the brain has been tied to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.

Brain Disease and Hemochromatosis

 

Symptoms of hemochromatosis include chronic fatigue, joint pain, especially in your knuckles, memory fog, an irregular heartbeat, and abdominal pain.

Hemochromatosis Symptoms

 

Getting iron levels down with therapeutic blood removal, or phlebotomy, is the most common treatment. Regular blood donations and a hemochromatosis-friendly diet can help you lower iron levels.

Hemochromatosis Treatment