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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

Atrial Fibrillation Month

Atrial Fibrillation Month

It’s Atrial Fibrillation Month, and atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib or AF, is a type of irregular heartbeat that can raise your risk of other health problems. Learn more.

Making Sense of Irregular Heartbeat

 

For most people, their heart beats between 60 and 100 times a minute. Those with AFib can have heart rates as high as 175 beats a minute.

AFib can feel like drums or thunder pounding in your chest or even flip-flopping in your chest. Talk to your doctor if you’ve experienced this kind of discomfort.

How AFib Feels

 

If you’re experiencing AFib and other issues, like shortness of breath with light physical activity, lightheadedness, dizziness, or fatigue, your heart might not be getting enough blood and oxygen out to your body.

AFib and Other Symptoms

 

AFib raises your risk of stroke by 5 times. It can allow clots to form, which can cause strokes that can cause serious damage to your tissue and brain.

AFib and Your Risk of Stroke

 

Some people may just have to cut caffeine in their diet to improve their AFib. Others may need special medication and treatment to address the underlying cause.

Cutting Caffeine for AFib

 

If you suffer from heartbeat irregularities, changes in your lifestyle, like being physically active, quitting smoking, or managing stress and your blood pressure can also help.

Improving AFib

Pregnancy Discomforts

Dealing with Pregnancy Discomforts

Pregnancy Discomforts

Some parts of pregnancy can be uncomfortable, and that’s normal. While you should still tell your doctor about small pregnancy discomforts, here are some tips that can help:

Nausea & Vomiting

  • Eat small meals regularly
  • Eat carbs, especially in the morning after you get up
  • Avoid greasy and spicy foods

Fatigue

  • Rest or nap when you can
  • Ask for help with tasks
  • Go to bed earlier than you would’ve before your pregnancy

Dizziness

  • Stand up slowly
  • Hold onto walls or other supporting structures for balance
  • Ask your doctor about taking a vitamin supplement

Hemorrhoids

  • Drink plenty of water and juice
  • Eat more fruit and veggies for fiber
  • Ask your doctor about medication

Swelling & Fluid Retention

  • Lay on one of your sides
  • Elevate your legs while resting
  • Wear support hose

 

Make sure you pay attention to your body and that it’s not just a discomfort though. These signs of early labor can help you know when you need to get to the doctor.

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.

Fibroid Awareness Week

Fibroid Awareness Week

It’s Fibroid Awareness Week. Fibroids are muscular tumors, usually benign, that grow in the wall of the uterus for women.

Fibroids can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit. 20% to 80% of women develop them by age 50.

Fibroid Size and Frequency

 

Not all women with fibroids have symptoms, but those who do can have pain, pressure on the bladder, frequent urination, or even a swollen abdomen.

Fibroid Symptoms

 

Risk factors for fibroids include age, family history, ethnic origin, obesity, and eating habits, like eating too much red meat. Eating plenty of green veggies is associated with a lower risk of fibroids.

Risk Factors for Fibroids

 

If you get pregnant and have fibroids, you might have more problems during your pregnancy. OB-GYNs are used to this situation, though, so talk to your doctor about your fibroids when you find out you’re pregnant.

Pregnant with Fibroids

 

Your doctor can diagnose you with fibroids through an exam or imaging tests like ultrasounds, X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans.

Diagnosing Fibroids

 

There are treatments for fibroids, including meds and surgery, if you have pain, they’re large, or you want to get pregnant.

Fibroids and Your Future

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Animal Poison Prevention

Animal Poison Prevention

It’s National Animal Poison Prevention Week, and there are ways for you to protect your pets, especially in your home.

Not all food you eat is safe for your pets. Don’t give your pets chocolate, onion, garlic, coffee, avocados, raisins or grapes.

Feeding Pets Smart

 

You should also never give your pets fruit pits, like peach pits, or any bones, which can splinter and damage their digestive system.

Smart Snacking for Pets

 

Store your pets’ medications somewhere separate from your own so you never accidentally give them human meds.

Pet Medication Storage

 

Make sure your meds are stored in a secure place so your pets can never accidentally get into them.

Protecting Your Pets from Your Meds

 

Always keep cleaning supplies in a secure place that your pets can’t get to. These chemicals can be very harmful for them.

Cleaning and Your Pets

 

Make sure your pets can’t get to batteries, potpourri, yarn, rubber bands, or floss in your home, all of which can be harmful.

Also protect pets from insecticides, antifreeze, plant food and fertilizer outside. And know which plants are poisonous to them.

Protecting Pets from Poisoning

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