Tag Archives: Postpartum depression

Save Your Sanity

A “sick” patient who goes for medical consultation does not always have a physical ailment that can be diagnosed and treated quickly. About 36 per cent of these patients suffers from mental illnesses, and of these 20 per cent has “somatisation” — that is, depression showing up as exhaustion, dizzy spells, intolerance to noise, tingling sensation, pain or insomnia. Their thoughts, emotions and behaviour are affected. They are always “sick”, and this makes it difficult for them to hold down a job or relate to people.
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Serious mental illnesses (psychotic disorders) are present in 0.5 per cent of this population. Such people may suffer from schizophrenia, wherein they hear voices inside their head and which command them to do strange things. They may also be paranoid — that is, convinced that everyone (even close friends and family) is determined to harm them. Depression may cause them to become unproductive, addicted to alcohol or drugs, or have suicidal thoughts. Panic and anxiety can be so extreme that he or she is unable to leave home. Maniacal behaviour may cause reckless spending or sexual promiscuity.

Mental illness is a chronic disease, just like diabetes or arthritis. Unfortunately, it is not viewed as such. The patient and his or her family may conceal the illness because they are ashamed of it. They hope it is a passing phase brought about by “bad fate”, religious or moral transgressions, or is a result of witchcraft. If the patient is a catatonic schizophrenic — that is, remains immobile in a bizarre statue-like position for hours or even days — people around may not always understand the situation. Undiagnosed patients may be denied treatment and stigmatised, or even confined, chained or beaten.

Both men and women are prone to mental illness, but the spectrum of disease slightly differs in the sexes. Men are more prone to schizophrenia and women to depression. In addition, women suffer a specific type of depression called post natal depression (PND). This can set in one to six months after the birth of a child and can last weeks or months. During this time, women feel anxious, guilty and suicidal, as they are unable to cope with the baby. Unfortunately, though it is a self-limited treatable condition, it is often ignored. The patients are at times even accused of being “possessed” and treated by quacks.

Centuries ago, Hippocrates postulated that the brain is an organ with particular functions, just like the liver or heart, and that it is prone to disease and malfunction. Scanning techniques such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) have demonstrated that he was right. Blood flow to certain areas of the brain and its actual physical size differs in those with mental illnesses.

The heart responds to exercise with an increase in its rate. Similarly, the brain responds to life events with the release of chemical neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, noradrenaline, gamma-amino butyric acid and acetylcholine. An imbalance, the excess of any chemical, a change in the ratio or relative deficiency leads to gradations of depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

Mental illnesses tend to run in families and have a genetic basis. Members carry genes that predispose them to neurotransmitter imbalances. The genes manifest themselves if the environmental factors are conducive. Children may be victims of abuse if one or both parents are mentally ill. They may witness alcoholism, other addictions or domestic violence. Discipline may be haphazard and academic performance unstructured and poor. This may predispose them to mental illness in later life.

If an unprovoked person suddenly becomes violent or starts talking gibberish, the diagnosis of mental illness is easy. In the early stages of mental illnesses — when the symptoms may be subtle — or in paranoid schizophrenics (who may be persuasive and appear rational in their delusions), the diagnosis is not so obvious. Conversations and interviews with the patient and relatives and verbal tests eventually lead the psychiatrist to the diagnosis. There are no confirmatory blood or imaging tests. It is a subjective diagnosis that requires expertise and years of training.

Mental illnesses may be difficult to treat, even in the best of hands. Drug combinations and dosages have to be individualised. Medication has to be continued long term. The neurochemicals in the brain take time to change, and hence the response is gradual and not dramatic. Relapses can occur, especially if dosages are missed. Psychotherapy (talking to the patient) and social rehabilitation have to take place simultaneously.

The duration of therapy and pace of improvement is often discouraging. It may make the relatives fall prey to charlatans who promise a “miracle cure”. However, their methods are unscientific and may cause harm. Religious organisations with untrained personnel are not a substitute for psychiatrists or psychotherapists. And last but not the least, marriage does not cure mental illness.

Mental illness can be prevented by —

• Early identification of problem behaviour

• Adequate social support and social networking

• Learning mechanisms for coping with stress

• Effective community care

• Physical fitness plays a positive role. A family that exercises for 40 minutes a day will be physically and mentally healthy.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Chat Reduces Post-Natal Depression


An intimate chat with a peer cuts down the chances of postnatal depression by half among high risk women, a new study has shown.
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Cindy-Lee Dennis, associate professor at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, examined the effectiveness of phone-based peer support to prevent postnatal depression among high risk women.

After web-based screening of more than 21,000 women from seven health regions in Ontario, 701 high risk mothers were recruited and randomised to receive standard postnatal care or standard care and the support of a peer volunteer (who had experienced postnatal depression themselves).

Mothers who received peer support had half the risk of developing postnatal depression at 12 weeks after birth compared to those in the control group.

Mothers were receptive to receiving telephone-based peer support and more than 80 percent said they were satisfied with their experience and would recommend this support to a friend.

In an accompanying write-up, Dennis said: “Women and family members need to be educated about postnatal depression so they can recognise the symptoms.”

“Treatment needs to be convenient and accessible to new mothers.” Although antidepressants are effective, many women are reluctant to take medication, especially when breast feeding, said a Bloomberg release.

She called for a coordinated multidisciplinary approach to identify postnatal depression involving all health professionals who come into contact with new mothers including midwives, doctors, nurses and health visitors.

Sources: These finding were published in the British Medical Journal Online.

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Getting Back In Shape After Childbirth

Following the birth of a child, a new mother is often overwhelmed by the tasks of parenthood. Besides adjusting to her new lifestyle, the mother must turn her attention to her own body. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and the growth of the fetus in the uterus have tremendous effects on the mother’s body. The pelvic floor, which is a group of muscles which support the abdominal organs, is often weakened and stretched during pregnancy and childbirth. To restore strength to these muscles a woman must perform a series of exercises..…CLICK & SEE

During the nine months of pregnancy, the woman’s body continues to change and evolve to meet the needs of the unborn baby. However, within weeks after the baby is born, the mother can take steps to enhance the healing in her body. With proper exercise, a new mother can speed her recovery time and simultaneously feel better about herself.

A Post Partum Exercise Regimen

Strengthening of the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles represent the foundation of a post-partum exercise program. During childbirth, the abdominal muscles are often stretched and the pelvic floor muscles traumatized. Although the uterus will return to normal size within six weeks, specific strengthening exercises are required to restore the tone to the abdominal muscles.

Specifically, patients need to practice a series of four exercises designed to promote the strength of the affected muscles. First, identify the pelvic floor muscles by partially emptying the bladder and stopping the urine flow. This exercise promotes the strength of the pelvic floor muscle. Secondly, while laying supine, flatten the stomach and hold for five seconds. (Don’t forget to keep breathing). The third recommended exercise is called the “straight curl up.” To perform this exercise, the woman should lay on the ground with her feet flat on the floor. Then, she should reach forward toward the knees, lifting her shoulders off the floor. During each motion, the woman should pause and slowly return to the starting position. Finally, the diagonal curl up will boost the strength of the abdominal muscles. To perform this exercise, the woman should again rest on the back with the knees flexed and the feet flat. Then, to complete the exercise, the woman must diagonally reach across her body with her right hand extending toward her left knee. Then slowly return to the starting position and resume the exercise, only this time reaching her left hand to her right knee. The performance of these exercises will allow the new mother to restore healthy and strong muscles.

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Restoring Back Strength

As a mother gets back on her feet following delivery, moderate exercise is important. Experts often recommend walking (and pushing a stroller) because it restores back strength and posture. During pregnancy and childbirth, the muscles of the back tend to shorten, leading to a rotated pelvis. Physical therapists call this forward rotation a lordosis, “sway-back” position.

To correct this condition after pregnancy, a woman can perform several other exercises. The first exercise referred to as a “bridge,” requires the woman to rest on the back with her knees bent and feet flat. Then, she must gently lift her hips toward the ceiling. A second exercise designed to improve posture center on pelvic tilting. In this exercise, the woman must rest on her back and contract the abdominal muscles while simultaneously flattening the arch of the back into the floor. This exercise will strengthen the abdomen and reduce the possibility of the “sway back” position. Finally, women who just gave birth to a baby must guard against awkward lifting positions that can cause back complications. The mother must instead remember the proper lifting techniques of bending at the knees and keeping the head and chest high. By practicing these and other post partum exercises, women can maintain their health and enjoy their new bundle of joy.

Yoga Exercises under the guidance of some expart is the best way to rejuvenile yourself and mentain good health,mind and soul all along.

Source:Therapy Services Associates