Tag Archives: loved ones

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.

Helping Your Loved Ones with Advance Directives

Long View: Helping Your Loved Ones Even After You’re Gone

I have been very self-directed for quite some time, which is one of the reasons I recently got all my advance directives in place. It took some education and investigation, but I feel comfortable with the decisions I’ve made. I was relieved to be done with it until a longtime friend asked, “Hey, what about your obituary?”

Ok then. It took some consideration, but I started to realize it was my opportunity to share what was important in my life — the special people I have known and loved and what I was passionate about. Maybe everyone didn’t know my favorite color was orange but might think it’s okay if they found out after the fact.

This was also my opportunity to suggest where donations, if any, should go and why I felt a particular charity warranted their attention. Many of you can guess it would be food-focused in nature.

I would also get to share all the places I have lived, including Mobile, AL, Eugene, OR, and Perth, Western Australia, among others. Listing these remote locations would make it seem that I was slightly more fascinating in life than most people would have suspected.

I also made arrangements to have my earthly remains (ashes) sent to family in Mobile to be scattered into the Gulf of Mexico, which is close to the place where I was born. I understand there may be laws that prohibit this activity, but my family is resourceful and will honor my wishes I am sure.

In short, I am comforted to know that my wishes will be known and respected after I am no longer concerned with such issues. These types of directives are most useful to those we leave behind. Relieving a little of the burden from your loved ones is probably one of the kindest actions you can take now. All it takes is a little planning, information, and forethought.

Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. He is known for his inability to parallel park, and if you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange (and he paints!)

Allergy-Friendly Recipes

Allergy-Friendly Recipes

It’s Food Allergy Action Month. These healthy allergy-friendly recipes can help you protect your kids, their friends, and all your loved ones.

First up are these no-bake snacks, Healthy Chewy No-Bake Granola Bars, safe for the kids.

Healthy Chewy No Bake Granola Bars

 

These Gluten-Free and Vegan Goldfish are also lighter than the grocery store staple.

Homemade Gluten-Free + Vegan Goldfish (Allergy-Free, Grain-Free)

 

Whip up Gluten-Free Monster Cookies that are also nut-free for the next class event your kids have.

Gluten Free Monster Cookies (Nut Free, Vegan).

 

Need a kid-friendly breakfast for the next sleepover? Try Life-Saving Pancakes that are gluten-free and egg-free.

Life Saving Pancakes
Image and Recipe via Petite Allergy Treats

 

These Allergy-Friendly Brookies are the perfect combo of cookie and brownie, without the allergies.

Allergy-Friendly Brookies
Image and Recipe via nutritionicity

 

Skip the drive thru with these Allergy-Friendly Chicken Nuggets.

Allergy-Friendly Chicken Nuggets
Image and Recipe via Instructables

 

This beautiful Raspberry, Lime, and Coconut Cheesecake is perfect for an allergy-friendly dessert for guests.

Raspberry, lime and coconut cheesecake

Tough Talks to Plan for the Future

Covered Bridge: Tough Talks Now Can Save Hurt Feelings Later

Have you ever noticed how much stuff you have packed in your house? It seems to have a life of its own! There was a point where I thought, “If I bring one more thing home, something will pop out of a window.” The thought of moving with all these treasures in tow is daunting.

Now imagine if you had to do so without notice or against your wishes. That would be a nightmare.

Sadly, I remember that a few short years ago, when my grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, his primary care doctor told him and my grandmother that it was time to downsize from their 4-bedroom home on 15 acres in the country to something a little more manageable.

He felt a part of his independence was being taken from him. But fortunately for him, being newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he had a little more say in his plans for the future.

I am sure some of you have older friends and family members who could find themselves in that situation or worse. At some point, they might not have a say in their future and need to transition suddenly from independent living to a group or assisted-living facility, whether the move is short-term or permanent.

It seems that talking about this tough situation ahead of time could save everyone a lot of pain later.

There are some early signs that it is time to talk about moving options. A change might be in order if they have trouble getting dressed or making their own food. Sudden changes in behavior or severe forgetfulness are more alarming and require fast action to protect your loved one.

Help your friends or loved ones have this conversation with their primary care doctors to assess their needs and their next steps and to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible.

There you have it. And it wouldn’t hurt for all of us to plan for the future by simplifying our lives and possessions as we go along!

Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.

Purposeful Connections

Vantage Point: Purposeful Connections

Everyone knows that February is the month of love. It’s the month with the holiday where we buy our loved ones candy, flowers, a card, and maybe even dinner as a token of our love for them. We purposefully connect.

With that being said, how much time do we really spend purposefully connecting with the people around us, including loved ones, outside of designated holidays?

Technology has really enhanced our social connections with those far away, but in my opinion, it may be hampering our social connections with those close to us. What would happen if we took the time to connect to the people in our lives, no matter the day or relation?

If you want to connect to those in your life more, these are my ideas to get started:

  1. Call (yes, actually call) a friend or family member that may have moved away or who you haven’t talked to in a while, and start up a conversation. If the conversation sparks that I’ve-really-missed-this-person feeling for you, maybe invite them to something, like coffee.

  2. Give a compliment to someone, and really mean it! Plus, don’t forget to smile. If you want extra credit, maybe leave a nice note for your loved one where they will see it. No texts, actual paper and a pen.

  3. Limit technology time. I know this is a popular suggestion, but maybe just limiting the times that family can be on their phones, tablets, or video games, or even limiting phone usage while out at dinner will help.

And if you’re looking to make more meaningful social connections, volunteering in the community might be a good idea. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, all while giving back. The Harman Center is always looking for volunteers. Contact them at 509-575-6166 for more information.

This isn’t a be-all-end-all list, but it’s a list to get your creative ideas going. What are other ways that you can connect with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even strangers? Someone in your life or community might really benefit from a kind smile and a sincere compliment. You never know what people are going through.

Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a homegrown girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world. When not attending community events or providing Medicare education throughout the Valley, she can be found indulging in her hobbies of homesteading, pioneer cooking, and learning new survival techniques. She also has a strong love for all things Halloween.

Discovering Effective Alzheimer's Disease Treatments

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

This month is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Take the Purple Pledge to support people facing it today.

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The first trial that’s trying to prevent Alzheimer’s before symptoms start is happening now from BBC News.

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It’s important to know the signs of Alzheimer’s to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Intelligence Therapy

 

This touching story from the New York Times Magazine will remind you why we must end Alzheimer’s.

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Find facts and figures and resources, or find a walk to support a cure.

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Studies like this one are working hard to figure what exactly causes Alzheimer’s, from The Economist.

MRI Image Brain On Black Background

Doctors and scientists are getting close to effective treatments in the journey to end Alzheimer’s, from Forbes.

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Pre-Planning for the End of Life's Stroll

Vantage Point: Pre-Planning Is Key Part of Life’s Stroll

There is nothing like a summer evening stroll—the sounds of people reminiscing on front porches, American flags flapping in the warm breeze, birds chirping, and children’s laughter. Smells of barbecue and freshly mown lawns tickle the nose as eyes feast on the sights of gardens overflowing with flowers and kids riding bikes as their wet swim trunks leave a trail of water from the city pool.

I think back to summers past and family celebrations. These are the nights I want to remember when the days turn shorter, darker, and colder. Walking past the town cemetery, I think about a recent visitor in our Health Alliance office. A distraught spouse tearfully informed us of an unexpected passing. She seemed so lost, not knowing what to do next, and looking over the tidy headstones, I decided I don’t want that experience for my loved ones.

Reaching out to Beth Pent, continuing family care and pre-need counselor at Jones & Jones-Betts Funeral Home, I learned funeral planning can be a lot like wedding planning. There are seemingly unlimited choices to reflect your expressed wishes and unique style, and planning ahead provides peace of mind. Everyone will need to have final arrangements someday, and if you don’t take care of it, the burden of planning and funding it will fall to the grieving next of kin.

Even if you choose not to have a service, there is still a long checklist of responsibilities and state- and county-required documents survivors must take care of, in addition to the transportation and handling of the body. Some choices require authorization, so pre-planning can record everything you think the executor of your estate will need to know to carry out your wishes.

Consulting with a trusted resource, like Beth, not only helps you determine your pre-made decisions, such as final resting place, but it also helps relieve family members from having to guess and possibly argue over what you would have wanted. Pre-planning encourages you to consider your loved ones and is a way you can help them through their grief.

Funerals can be a celebration of life, and I want mine to serve as my last gesture of love by taking care of everything I can ahead of time. I want it to feel like a midsummer-evening stroll that evokes a sense of family, friends, and community.