Total 226 Blog Posts

  • 05 Oct
    Mandavi Pandey

    Postpartum illnesses: Psychosis, Anxiety and OCD

    Although postpartum depression is one of the most common emotional problems new mothers face, psychosis, anxiety and OCD are also found to occur, though this is much rarer. Go through this article to understand a bit more about them so that you can help yourself or someone you know from sinking deeper into these emotional issues without help.

    Postpartum illnesses: Psychosis, Anxiety and OCD

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    Postpartum Psychosis is a rare illness, compared to the rates of postpartum depression or anxiety. It occurs in approximately 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 deliveries, or approximately .1% of births. The onset is usually sudden, most often within the first 2 weeks postpartum.

    Symptoms:

    Symptoms of postpartum psychosis can include:

    • Delusions or strange beliefs
    • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
    • Feeling very irritated
    • Hyperactivity
    • Decreased need for or inability to sleep
    • Paranoia and suspiciousness
    • Rapid mood swings
    • Difficulty communicating at times

    A history of bipolar disorder, or any illness on the psychotic spectrum, even if in a family member, can contribute significantly. The birthing process puts hormones into overdrive and this can sometimes alter neurochemistry of the brain, leading to disturbance.

    Post-partum Anxiety

    Approximately 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety. Sometimes they experience anxiety alone, and sometimes they experience it in addition to depression.

    Symptoms

    The symptoms of anxiety during pregnancy or postpartum might include:

    • Constant worry
    • Feeling that something bad is going to happen
    • Racing thoughts
    • Disturbances of sleep and appetite
    • Inability to sit still
    • Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea

     

    Risk factors for perinatal anxiety and panic include a personal or family history of anxiety, previous perinatal depression or anxiety, or thyroid imbalance. Sometimes, postpartum panic disorder, which is characterized by panic attacks can also occur.

    On the spectrum between psychosis and anxiety lies OCD. OCD is a problematic issue because it can make the mother undertake dangerous cleaning habits with the infant, that may be very harmful for it.

    Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed of the perinatal disorders. It is estimated that as many as 3-5% of new mothers and some new fathers will experience these symptoms. The repetitive, intrusive images and thoughts are very frightening and can feel like they come “out of the blue.” 

    Symptoms of perinatal OCD can include:

    • Obsessions, also called intrusive thoughts, which are persistent, repetitive thoughts or mental images related to the baby. These thoughts are very upsetting and not something the woman has ever experienced before.
    • Compulsions, where the mom may do certain things over and over again to reduce her fears and obsessions.
    • A sense of horror about the obsessions
    • Fear of being left alone with the infant
    • Hypervigilance in protecting the infant
    • Moms with postpartum OCD know that their thoughts are bizarre and are very unlikely to ever act on them.

    Having a previous diagnosis of anxiety or family history of it can be a risk factor for OCD.

    Please feel free to ask questions and post comments.

    -eWellness Expert

  • 04 Oct
    Shiva Raman Pandey

    Could Your Common Cold Have A Psychological Cause?

    Are you falling ill too often? It could be linked with your stress levels. Research shows that there are very important and obvious linkages between stress and illness. High levels of stress are known to decrease the strength of our immunity level, which is why germs and disease agents can affect us more easily. A common cold is actually the body’s response to attacking disease agents. When the body prepares its fighter cells, it needs you to be resting. The process of raising one’s immunity can also increase body temperature. That is why we sometimes get fever and cold together.

    Could Your Common Cold Have A Psychological Cause?

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    In fact, it is estimated that a lot of illnesses have stress as a major factor. General physicians suggest that up to 70 % of the cases that they see have at least some component of stress. Usually, stress and back pain as well as other localized pain are also linked. It seems that a lot of people who go to their doctor, do not need just medications, but an understanding of the effects of stress and how to handle it.

    Why does this happen? Why does stress give us physical symptoms?

    To understand this, one must look at the evolutionary perspective. According to this, a lot of the ways in which our bodies and minds function is affected by how we evolved. From the point of view of evolution, the development of the prefrontal cortex (which allows us to think, plan and feel complex emotion) is a new aspect and may yet be unaccomodated for. Therefore, ‘stress’ in prehistoric times meant that there’s a lion lunging at you, and the body had to go into overdrive.

    The body would produce the relevant resources to deal with this threat to life. This would mean more blood flow to the limbs to run, increased heartbeat, and so on. Such threats were not an everyday occurrence. However, now-a-days, the daily stress we face is not the life threatening kind. But our brain still cannot distinguish between the two. So each time you feel stressed, blood flow and other vitals get disrupted to make way for a stress response.

    It must be understood that we encounter stress in much more frequency as compared to the prehistoric man. Therefore, our system might be going into over-drive several times a day! On top of that, we make our organs weaker by faulty eating, smoking or drinking. The combined effect of all this is that stress starts to affect our health in very obvious physical ways.

    Work-life balance is a key to handling stress. Consumerism never makes us feel that we have enough and we keep pushing ourselves to earn more and spend more. It is an endless cycle that takes a toll on our mental health. Even though modern medicine has increased average life expectancy, we are still struggling to make the quality of our life as high. Stress still rules our working day. This needs to change.

  • 04 Oct
    Mandavi Pandey

    Does my Partner have Post-Partum Depression? How Can I Help?

    If you are a partner to a new mother, this could be a question on your mind. You could have noticed some signs and symptoms like lack of joy in her, or she sits staring in space for long and does not show a lot of affection for the baby. You might be confused and scared. The first thing to do before you can help your partner, is to address your fears.

    Firstly, Baby Blues and PPD look similar, so make sure it’s not the former before you panic needlessly.

    Secondly, PPD is common and treatable; you just need to know how. Thirdly, this isn’t anyone’s fault.

    Does my Partner have Post-Partum Depression? How Can I Help?

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    If it is PPD that you are up against, then involving mental health professionals is required. Talk to your partner’s obstetrician and physician for some primary referrals. Generally, both medication and psychotherapy may be required to work on PPD and improve the relations of the mother with the new-born as well as other people in the family.

    There are many ways you can help the situation.

      They are as follows:

    • Do not ignore PPD. The longer it remains ignored and unaccepted, the longer it can wreck havoc in her life as well as everyone else’s who is connected to her.
    • Support her by helping out at home and with the baby. If it is possible, hire part-time help.
    • Get her treatment, both pharmacological and psychological.
    • Give her supportive messages: That you love her, you understand that she feels terrible, that her emotional problems does not mean she isn’t a good mother, you believe in her, it will get better, and that you are glad that she is trying her best to fix it.
    • If there are people in your social circle who are likely to be supportive, call them over sometimes. If you are unsure or if you feel that they may add to the problem, then reduce contact with them.
    • Do certain tasks together, like bathing the baby or taking the baby out. Especially when caring for the new born together, it sends strong messages of support.
    • Do not tell her that this is what one needs to go through for a child, or it’s just a phase, or she caused it, or any other critical comment of that nature.
    • Be sure to be supportive and encouraging and not expect quick fixes or solutions. Accompany her on doctor/therapist visits.
    • Make sure you are managing your stress well, unwinding and relaxing when you need too. This will make sure you have the energy to handle the multiple demands.

    Above all, you have to give yourself the credit that’s due. If you have reached this page looking for information, you are no doubt willing to do whatever it takes, and you should be happy that you share a bond with her that makes you want to do so. With love and affection, PPD can be overcome.

    Please feel free to ask questions and post comments.

    -eWellness Expert

  • 04 Oct
    Mandavi Pandey

    Baby Blues or Post-Partum Depression?

    Baby Blues and Post-Partum Depression

    Having a child is perhaps one of the greatest joy to humans. Months of hardship, careful living and lifestyle changes followed by the awe-inspiring birthing process, really is a rollercoaster ride for the parents, and they love the child all the more because of it. However, sometimes, the mother may not feel the best after the birth. There are two types of emotion or mood related issues that can occur. One of them is baby blues and the other is post-partum depression. Less commonly, post partum anxiety, OCD or psychosis can occur as well.

     

    Signs and symptoms of baby blues — which last only a few days to a week or two after your baby is born — may include:

    • Mood swings
    • Anxiety
    • Sadness
    • Irritability
    • Feeling overwhelmed
    • Crying
    • Reduced concentration
    • Appetite problems
    • Trouble sleeping

    Post-partum depression, on the other hand, lasts much longer and is much more severe. Starting from the time of birth it can last to even 6 months after the birth. Untreated, it may prevail for longer, and interfere with the mother’s care-taking abilities and attachment with the infant.

    Post-partum depression symptoms may include:

    • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
    • Excessive crying
    • Difficulty bonding with your baby
    • Withdrawing from family and friends
    • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
    • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
    • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
    • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
    • Intense irritability and anger
    • Fear that you're not a good mother
    • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
    • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
    • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
    • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
    • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

    Post-partum psychosis/OCD and anxiety are rare but may occur nonetheless. The signs are as follows:

    • State of agitation or anxiety
    • Confusion and disorientation
    • Obsessive thoughts about your baby
    • Hallucinations and delusions
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Paranoia
    • Attempts to harm yourself or your baby

    Postpartum psychosis may lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviors and requires immediate treatment.

     The good news is that of these conditions are treatable. Please contact a registered mental health professional at the earliest in order to get the relevant help.

     You can read our other articles on what causes these conditions, what are certain genetic and environment risk-factors, what the effects of these conditions are and how to get help and get better. These articles will help you stay informed and take the right decision at the earliest.

    If you are having suicidal thoughts, have attempted to harm yourself or the baby, it is advised that you talk to a supportive friend or a loved one and get yourself admitted to a hospital for observation and emergency care.

    Please feel free to ask questions and post comments.

    -eWellness Expert

    Image source

  • 04 Oct
    Mandavi Pandey

    Post-Partum Depression: Risk Factors and Causes

    As a brief introduction to the symptoms of post-partum depression and other mood issues related to the birth process in this article (link to first article) indicates, these issues can have debilitating effects on the new mother. Studies show that 1 out 10 new mothers in the US has PPD and many more are at

    risk.

    Understanding Post-Partum Depression: Risk Factors and Causes

     

    Along with the mother, the father or second parent can also get affected because PPD and mood patterns associated with it can put a strain on the relationship, cause communication problems, fights and lead to worry for the second parent. It may also increase their stress as they may have to care for the new mother, the baby, any other children in the family, as well as tend to household and work duties. Children of women with untreated PPD can exhibit ADHD, ADD and apathy, to name a few issues. They are also likely to have an insecure attachment style which is associated with emotional, social and academic problems in children.

    Therefore, it is of utmost important to understand the risk factors and causes of PPD to know if you need to seek help in dealing with it. Causation has been largely attributed to hormonal processes that happen in the body during pregnancy and delivery. Since hormones are intricately connected to emotions, sometimes, the strain of pregnancy and birth can wreck havoc with mood. The actual delivery can be a painful process and can act as a trigger too.

    Postpartum depression can develop after the birth of any child, not just the first. The risk increases if:

    • You have a history of depression, either during pregnancy or at other times
    • You have bipolar disorder
    • You had postpartum depression after a previous pregnancy
    • You have family members who've had depression or other mood stability problems
    • You've experienced stressful events during the past year, such as pregnancy complications, illness or job loss
    • Your baby has health problems or other special needs
    • You have difficulty breast-feeding
    • You're having problems in your relationship with your spouse or significant other
    • You have a weak support system
    • You have financial problems
    • The pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted

    It is important to address this immediately, because PPD can develop into anxiety, psychosis or major depressive disorder. Do not wait if you have even a mild sensation of mood disturbance, combined with a couple of risk factors. It is imperative not to leave PPD untreated. It can ruin relationships and affect the growth of the new-born.

    If you are a partner for a mother with PPD, love and comfort, and not giving up are important. You need to understand that this is not the true mother, but the mother under the hold of a crippling emotional issue. Urge them to get therapy and medication. Make sure that you also get support and care and are not overburdened.

    Get help from a professional mental health specialist at the earliest.

    Please feel free to ask questions and post comments.

    -eWellness Expert