Tag Archives: mood swings

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.

Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager – Ages 15 to 17

Yearly well-child visits for your teenager help them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

What Happens at Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager

Your teen needs to have yearly well-child visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your teen is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Your Teenager’s Development

Your teen’s doctor can help you keep track of their key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, and social skills.

At each visit, your doctor will ask you and your teen questions to help make sure your teen is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on and put your mind at ease.

Each teenager grows differently. Some kids take longer to hit puberty, to be romantically interested in peers, or to worry about their future. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.

Developmental milestones for most teens ages 15 to 17 include:

  • Spending more time outside the family, like with friends, peers, and dates
  • Worrying about their future, like going to college
  • More interest in romantic and sexual relationships
  • Wanting to try new things, which could include tobacco, drugs, or alcohol

See more milestones for your teens.

Health Information & History

At well-child visits for your teenager, your doctor will ask you and your teen to answer some questions about your teen’s health and maybe even your family history.

  • Health questions, like:

    • Do you often get any type of pain or headaches?

  • Behavior and emotion questions, like:

    • Do you have trouble following directions?
    • Do you often feel sad or bored?
    • Is there someone you can talk to about your problems?

  • Eating habit questions, like:

    • What do you eat on a normal day?

  • School and activity questions, like:

    • Do you like going to school?
    • What do you like to do on the weekends and after school?
    • Do you participate in any physical activities?

  • Safety questions, like:

    • Do you always wear a seatbelt in the car?
    • Are you experiencing any kind of violence?
    • Do you or your friends use any tobacco, alcohol, or drugs?

  • And family and friends questions, like:

    • Have there been any changes in your family recently?
    • Do you have close friends?

  • Sexuality questions, like:

    • Do you have any questions about your body?
    • Are you dating?
    • Do you know how to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancy?

  • Future questions, like:

    • Have you started to think about what you want to do after high school?

Physical Exam

At well-child visits for your teenager, you can expect their doctor to:

  • Measure their height, weight, BMI, and blood pressure
  • Check their body and limbs
  • Take their temperature
  • Check their vision and hearing
  • Decide if they need any lab tests, like a blood test
  • Give them any shots or screenings they need

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your teen’s doctor can help you with important information about:

  • Caring for your teen
  • Managing any conditions or diseases they might have
  • Puberty
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
  • Preventing violence in relationships or dealing with bullying
  • Preventing STDs and pregnancy

Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.

Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your teen’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight, dealing with depression, and more.

Prepare for Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of well-child visits for your teenager.

Know Your Family and Teen’s History

Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.

You should also make a list of any important changes in your teen’s life, like a divorce in the family, the death of a loved one, a big move, a new school, or the serious breakup of a relationship or a friendship.

Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your teenager’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.

This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health so that you’re always organized to talk to your teen’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor and Help Your Teen Get More Involved

Prepare for well-child visits for your teenager by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:

  • Health conditions, like asthma, allergies, or acne
  • Talking to them about:
    • Sex
    • Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
    • Bullying
  • Making sure your teens eat right and get enough exercise
  • Changes in their behavior or mood or loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Sexual development
  • Helping them stay at a healthy weight
  • Internet safety
  • Helping them drive safely
  • Preventive care they need
  • What to do if they get sick or hurt

After starting puberty, your teen’s doctor will usually ask you to leave the room during the physical exam. This will help them build trust with their doctor and teach them to take control of their health care. Plus, it gives them some privacy at what can be an embarrassing time of physical changes.

At this age, your teens can also start to help managing their care. They can call to schedule appointments, help fill out medical forms, and prepare their own questions to ask the doctor.

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your teenagers. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your teen’s member number to see what preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your teen’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your teenagers or start searching for doctors in our network.

Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen – Ages 11 to 14

Yearly well-child visits for your preteen help them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

What Happens at Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Your preteen needs to have yearly well-child visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your preteen is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Your Preteen’s Development

Your preteen’s doctor can help you keep track of your child’s key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, and social skills.

At each visit, your doctor will ask you questions to help make sure your preteen is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on and put your mind at ease.

Each child grows differently. Some preteens take longer to start puberty or be interested in the opposite sex. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.

Developmental milestones for most preteens ages 11 to 14 include:

  • Interest in looks and fashion
  • Mood swings
  • Worrying what their peers think
  • Gaining a clearer sense of right and wrong
  • Getting better at problem-solving
  • Wanting more independence
  • Challenging the rules and their parents

See more milestones for kids ages 9 to 11 or preteens 12 to 14.

Health Information & History

At well-child visits for your preteen, your doctor will ask you to answer some questions about your child’s health and maybe even your family history.

  • Health questions, like:

    • Have they started showing signs of puberty?
    • Do they often complain of any type of pain?

  • Behavior and emotion questions, like:

    • Do they have trouble following directions?
    • Are they sad or bored?
    • Do they show signs of depression?
    • Do they have someone to talk to about their problems?

  • Eating habit questions, like:

  • School and activity questions, like:

    • Do they like going to school?
    • What do they like to do on the weekends and after school?
    • Do they participate in any physical activities?

  • Safety questions, like:

    • Does anyone in your home have a gun? Is it locked and secure so they can’t access it?
    • Are they experiencing any kind of violence?
    • Are they using any tobacco, alcohol, or drugs?

  • And family and friend questions, like:

    • Have there been any changes in the family, like a new sibling?
    • Do they spend time with friends or a boyfriend or girlfriend?

  • Sexuality questions, like:

    • Have you talked to them about puberty?
      • Most girls start puberty between the ages of 9 and 13, and most boys start between the ages of 10 and 13.
    • Are they dating?
    • Have you talked to them about preventing STDs and pregnancy?

Physical Exam

At well-child visits for your preteen, you can expect their doctor to:

  • Measure their height, weight, BMI, and blood pressure
  • Check their body and limbs
  • Take their temperature
  • Check their vision and hearing
  • Decide if they need any lab tests, like a blood test
  • Give them any shots or screenings they need

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your preteen’s doctor can help you with important information about:

  • Caring for your preteen
  • Managing any conditions or diseases they might have
  • Puberty
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
  • Preventing violence in relationships or dealing with bullying
  • Preventing STDs and pregnancy

Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.

Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your child’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight, dealing with depression, and more.

Prepare for Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of well-child visits for your preteen.

Know Your Family and Preteen’s History

Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.

You should also make a list of any important changes in your preteen’s life, like a divorce in the family, the death of a loved one, a big move, or a new school.

Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your preteen’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.

This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health, so that you’re always organized to talk to your preteen’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor and Help Your Child Get More Involved

Prepare for well-child visits for your preteen by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:

  • Health conditions, like asthma or allergies
  • Getting ready to talk to them about:
    • Sex
    • Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
    • Bullying
  • Making sure your kids eat right and get enough exercise
  • Helping them stay at a healthy weight
  • Internet safety
  • Preventive care they need
  • What to do if they get sick or hurt

Once your preteen starts puberty, your child’s doctor will usually ask you to leave the room during the physical exam. This will help them build trust with their doctor and teach them to take control of their health care. Plus, it gives them some privacy at what can be an embarrassing time of physical changes.

At this age, your preteens can also start to help managing their care. They can call to schedule appointments, help fill out medical forms, and prepare their own questions to ask the doctor.

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your preteens. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your preteen’s member number to see what preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your preteen’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your child or start searching for doctors in our network.

Protectiion From Traumatic Brain Injuries

Long View: Play It Safe to Help Avoid Traumatic Brain Injuries

Many years ago, I really looked forward to our high school homecoming. Looking back, we were involved in a number of hazardous activities, but at the time, they were the norm.

We pressed in around an enormous bonfire with little or no supervision. We rode on the back deck of a convertible, and sometimes the driver would tap on the gas just to give us a thrill. We consumed enormous quantities of high-fat, high-sodium foods – no wait, we did that all year. And to top it off, most of these activities were at school, which could have been full of asbestos. Our hard-charging football team was known for its defensive rushing, and the crack of the helmets could be heard above the roar of the crowd.

Traumatic brain injuries can be caused by injuries from all kinds of sports, especially the high-impact ones, like soccer, boxing, football, baseball, lacrosse, skateboarding, and hockey, particularly in youth.

Cognitive symptoms can include:

  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Mood changes or mood swings
  • Feeling depressed or anxious

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“The long-term impact of all types of traumatic brain injuries is an area that is receiving a lot more attention and research,” Dr. Jim Burke, a senior medical director at Health Alliance, told me. “The key focus now should be on prevention and treatment options for current patients with this diagnosis.”

Bob Slesinski works in Purchasing at Carle Foundation Hospital. One of his passions for the last 20 years has been coaching high school basketball teams.

“Attitudes have changed since we were playing basketball in high school,” he said. “With prevailing research, we are much more attuned to the symptoms of traumatic brain injuries, and it seems proceeding with caution will be the best course.”

“Carle Foundation offers a seminar for area coaches that helps us be more aware of methods to avoid traumatic brain injuries and gives us useful tips on what to do when we suspect there has been a concussion during a game or practice.”

As usual, the more you learn, the more you know. It was once common not to wear seatbelts, too. It’s hard to believe that was the norm at one time.

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