Postpartum Depression

What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is a type of depression that you may get after having a baby. It is quite common. In fact, one study estimates 1 in 7 mothers experience postpartum depression. It is important to take note that postpartum depression affects all kinds of parents, whether you are a biological, non-biological, or an adoptive parent. It also does not just affect first-time parents. You can get it even if you did not have it with your other children.

Postpartum depression can start anytime during your baby’s first year of life. However, it is not uncommon for most parents with postpartum depression to feel its effects during the first three weeks after the birth of their child.

With parenthood, comes a lot of adjustment. Sometimes this adjustment is very stressful and poses challenges as you learn to navigate your new role. Balancing care for yourself and a newborn can be overwhelming, demanding, and exhausting. For many women, it is common to experience the “baby blues”; often described a feeling sad, stressed, anxious, lonely, tired, or weepy following the birth of their baby. The “baby blues” typically last a week or two and will go away on their own. However, if you are experiencing deep emotional pain that comes after childbirth, such as sadness, feelings of hopelessness, or guilt because you may not feel like you want to bond with, or care for, your baby; you may be experiencing postpartum depression.

What are the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression may start within 12 months of having a baby. Not every parent experiences postpartum depression the same. Postpartum depression can include any of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling down or depressed for most of the day for several weeks or more
  • Crying a lot, sometimes for no real reason
  • Feeling distant and withdrawn from family and friends
  • A loss of interest in activities (including sex)
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Feeling tired most of the day
  • Feeling angry or irritable
  • Having feelings of anxiety, worry, panic attacks or racing thoughts
  • Difficulty with concentration, focusing, memory
  • Feeling unable to care for your baby or do basic chores

Many parents with postpartum depression feel a lot of guilt because they believe they should be handling parenthood better. Many women describe feeling nothing- rather just emptiness and numbness, as though they are going through the motions. Some parents with postpartum depression feel like they are in a fog. It can feel as though you are living strangely apart from everyone else, almost like a wall between you and the rest of the world.

What causes postpartum depression?

The following factors are believed to increase your risk of developing postpartum depression:

  • History of depression: whether you’ve had depression before or it runs in your family
  • Hormones: your hormone levels rise when pregnant and suddenly drop once your baby is born. This quick change can trigger depression in some women
  • Stress: emotional stressors, including financial strain, job changes, illness, or the death of a loved one
  • Mixed feelings about the pregnancy
  • Changes in social relationships
  • Lack of a strong support network
  • Raising a child with special needs or an infant that is challenging to care for
  • Alcohol or drug abuse problems

If you have a history of depression it is important to let your doctor know while you’re pregnant in order to help reduce your risk of developing postpartum depression.

How to treat your postpartum depression:

It is important to know that postpartum depression is not your fault. You may feel scared to reach out for help for fear that you will be judged. However, keep in mind that postpartum depression is a medical condition that can be treated. It is important to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional if you are having symptoms of postpartum depression. There is no need to suffer alone- there is help out there. With proper support, you will be making positive changes that that will have a huge impact on your daily well-being.

Counseling with cognitive behavior therapy and interpersonal therapy have been shown to be effective in treating postpartum depression. In both forms of treatment, you will meet with a counselor for individual weekly sessions to help reduce your symptoms of postpartum depression.

There are also some changes you can make at home to help manage some of the symptoms related to postpartum depression, such as:

  • Find time to exercise- even if it’s just walking outside
  • Surround yourself with a supportive network of family and friends
  • Eat regular, nourishing meals
  • Sleep
  • Include fun things in your day
  • Relaxation or meditation
  • Ask someone to watch your child so that you can have a break

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Postpartum Depression 2018-02-11T00:03:22+00:00

Parenting with Depression

Parenting with Depression

Depression is a serious mental illness that affects 1 out of 20 Americans 12 years of age and older. It is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 10% of adults aged 40-59 reported current depression. Depression, if not properly treated can lead to other serious injuries and diseases.

Those that suffer from depression experience a serious mood disorder that inhibits the ability to function—work, eat, sleep, etc. Which is why parenting might seem out of the question for some. How can you care for your children when you first need to take care of yourself? Though depression has its own set of challenges, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a loving and caring parent to your children.

Below we discuss living with depression as well as tips for parenting with depression.

What is depression?

Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, depression is a constant feeling of sadness and loss of interest. This severely affects your daily activities and the ability to live your life. Depressive episodes are long term and can be improved through medication and counseling.

Depression can take on several forms. Below are the most common:

  • Dysthymic Disorder—Those with dysthymic disorder have a mild type of depression where episodes can last for two years. They may also experience times of major depression. However, it is less debilitating as a person is still able to complete their daily activities.

  • Postpartum Depression—Women with postpartum depression experience intense feelings of anxiety, sadness or despair after giving birth due to changes in hormone levels. This hinders their ability to complete daily tasks. Learn more about Postpartum Depression.

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—Those with SAD have depression symptoms during the winter months, due to less natural sunlight. This depression is usually absent during the spring and summer months but will return again in the winter.

  • Psychotic depression—Those with psychotic depression have severe depression and some form of psychosis, such as delusions and hallucinations.

  • Atypical Depression—Those with atypical depression have symptoms of depression but can have a positive mood during a positive event. This type of depression doesn’t follow the typical patterns and symptoms of depression.

Although there is no single cause for depression, some risk factors include genetics, environmental factors, and psychological factors. Major life changes and trauma can also trigger depression.

How can you cope with depression?

Getting out of a depressed state depends on your long-term treatment plan and action goals. The key is to start small and find ways that will help boost your mood, even if you don’t feel like it. Typical treatment for depression includes psychotherapy and medication.

Although there’s no “one-size-fits-all” treatment for depression, through trial and error you can develop a long-term treatment plan that works best for you. Exercise is another form of treatment that can help those with depression.

In addition, part of coping with depression is involving your family and friends in your treatment. Having support and staying connected can positively affect your mood. Have friends and family attend doctor’s visits, therapy sessions, etc. so they can understand your illness better and can know how to help you.

Tips for Parenting with Depression

Find activities that you and your children enjoy

A great small step in overcoming your depression is participating in something that makes you feel good. Work with your child to find an activity that you both will enjoy. From going to the park to completing an art project or going out to eat—the key is to do something that relaxes you.

Have a support group on hand

As mentioned previously, it’s important to have friends and family that know of your condition and are there to support you. They should be reliable people that you can call on at a moment’s notice when you need extra help around the house or when you need to vent your frustrations. Also, have emergency plans in place that put your children in proper care while you tend to your symptoms.

In addition, know that you are not alone in the struggles of depression. Find groups (in person or online) where you can share your experiences with depression. You’ll not only grow your support group but will learn a lot from others.

Adjust expectations

No one is a perfect at parenting, so don't be too hard on yourself. When your depression episodes hit, take the time to get the proper rest and treatment you need. The world will not end if you can’t clean the house that day or if you need your kids to entertain themselves. The key is not to push yourself too hard, as you may trigger even more stress. Again, reach out to your support group when you need help.

Educate yourself

Read books and online articles about how to power through parenting. Again, there could be some helpful tips that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.

Self-care

Lastly, at the end of the day, it’s important that you take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, go outside, get enough sleep and stay on top of your treatment plan. As you learn to manage your symptoms, you’ll be able to balance your needs with your child’s needs. That is a big key when it comes to parenting.

At Well Street, we are proud to be the only e-counseling service designed for parents, families, kids, and teens. Our services include treating those with ADHD/ADD, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, mood disorders, conduct and oppositional defiant disorders, depression, and sleep disorders. Our low-cost subscriptions give you 24/7 access to a counselor and weekly 1:1 sessions by chat or video.

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Parenting with Depression 2018-06-07T15:03:23+00:00

Parenting with Bipolar Disorder

Parenting with Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that affects approximately 5.7 million adults or about 2.6% of the U.S population ages 18 and older. Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness, treatment for bipolar disorder through medication and counseling can help you not only manage mood swings but better function within your daily tasks and relationships.

Moreover, those that suffer from bipolar disorder may wonder about the additional challenges of raising a family. Parenting is a difficult role for anyone, as you learn how to balance your own needs with your children’s needs. Though bipolar disorder has its own set of challenges, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a loving and caring parent to your children.

Below we discuss living with bipolar disorder as well as tips for parenting with bipolar disorder.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is classified as a mental illness where a person experiences extreme changes in mood, including mania and depression, and struggles to complete day-to-day tasks. These mood shifts can vary from multiple times a day to a couple of times during the year. In some cases, people with bipolar disorder can experience both mania and depressive emotions.

The four common types of bipolar disorder include:

  • Bipolar I Disorder—Those with bipolar I disorder have extreme manic episodes that last for a minimum of 7 days and may require hospital care. A person can also experience depressive episodes or a combination of both manic and depressive episodes.

  • Bipolar II Disorder—Those with bipolar II disorder have one or more extreme depressive episodes as well as an episode of hypomania. The hypomanic symptoms are not at the same level as full-blown manic episodes found in bipolar I disorder. Normal moods between extreme depressive episodes can occur.

  • Cyclothymic Disorder—Those with cyclothymic disorder have several hypomanic episodes and less severe depressive episodes for two-plus years. Although this is a milder form of bipolar disorder, the intensity can vary over time.

  • Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)–Those with NOS have a bipolar disorder that doesn’t follow a specific pattern of the three disorders listed above.

Although there is no single cause for bipolar disorder, some risk factors include family history, genetics, and brain structure/chemistry.

Coping with bipolar disorder

Living with bipolar disorder is more manageable than it may seem when proper treatment is in place. Those that struggle with bipolar disorder are those that fail to become an active participant in learning about their condition and being involved in developing and executing their treatment plan. That said, it’s important to create a long-term treatment plan with your physician that includes both medications as well as counseling. Ask questions and through trial and error, find what helps you overcome your mood swings and helps you function in your daily life. Learn more about some of the therapy methods used in the treatment of bipolar disorder.

Furthermore, Adele C. Viguera, MD, psychiatrist and associate director of the perinatal and reproductive psychiatry program at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio explains, “Parenting with a bipolar disorder can be immensely challenging, but is often a good motivation for patients to stay compliant with their medication.” As mentioned above, in order to take care of your family, it’s vital that you take care of yourself.

In addition, part of coping with bipolar disorder is involving your family and friends in your treatment. Have them attend doctor’s visits, therapy sessions, etc. so they can understand your illness better and know how to help you.

Tips for Parenting with Bipolar Disorder

Develop a schedule and stick to it

In order to maintain treatment, you’ll most likely need a schedule set in place. Your daily actions have a direct impact on your emotional well-being. When you have a schedule in place, it can stabilize your moods. This is especially important when it comes to sleep. Too little sleep can trigger bipolar symptoms.

In addition, it may be beneficial to create a routine around your child’s schedule. If you need more sleep, try to sleep at the same time as your child. Make doctor and therapy appointments while your child is at an activity or school.

Keep track of your symptoms

As with any emotional or behavioral illness, it’s important to monitor your symptoms. If you feel like you’re starting to experience symptoms of bipolar disorder, seek help as soon as possible. Have emergency plans in place that put your children in proper care while you can tend to your symptoms.

Develop your parenting strengths

It’s easy to get down on yourself, especially when you suffer from bipolar disorder, but instead of focusing on your faults, work to develop your strengths as a parent. The more positive behavior you display to your children, the better they can model after you as well as see the benefits of developing their own talents.

Set healthy living goals

In addition to treating your mental health, it’s important that you also look after your physical health. This includes eating a healthy diet, incorporating exercise and getting enough sleep. Such goals can include going to the gym 3-5 times a week, eating 5-10 fruits and vegetables daily and get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Avoid alcohol as it could trigger bipolar symptoms.

Make time for your children

Lastly and most importantly, give your best time to your children. Plan activities that they love to do that won’t cause stress or anxiety on your part. It’s a great way to create memories with your children and to develop a deeper bond.

At Well Street, we are proud to be the only e-counseling service designed for parents, families, kids, and teens. Our services include treating those with ADHD/ADD, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, mood disorders, conduct and oppositional defiant disorders, depression, and sleep disorders. Our low-cost subscriptions give you 24/7 access to a counselor and weekly 1:1 sessions by chat or video.

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Parenting with Bipolar Disorder 2018-02-11T00:09:07+00:00

Parent Training

Parent Training for ADHD and other Childhood Disorders

Parent training is a treatment modality in which parents are provided with resources to help them parent a child with a behavioral, emotional, or developmental disorder. It is essentially a program of education to help parents adjust their behavior to the developmental needs of their child. For instance, parents of children with disruptive behaviors are taught how to set rules and define consequences for disobeying those rules. There are many different types of programs available – each specifically designed to address the symptoms of the disorder.

Parent training has become increasingly more popular as a form of treatment due in large part to recent research supporting its effectiveness. One study on the effectiveness of parent training in preschool children with ADHD found it reduced symptoms in a number of indexes, including the participants’ inattention and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, aggression, and rule-breaking behaviors. Parent training is also shown to be effective in decreasing anxious symptoms, withdrawn/depressed symptoms, affective problems, poor social skills, somatic problems, early conduct disorder, disruptive behaviors, and overall improve a child's well-being.

In addition to helping parents cope better with their child’s symptoms, these programs help improve parent-child interactions. With many parents reporting to have improved relationships with their children after participating in a program. Parent training programs are also shown to have a positive influence on parents’ own view of their mental well-being and a decrease in family stress.

These type of training programs typically last about 10 weeks. Participating in a program with an online therapist can be highly effective as well as convenient for busy families. Therapists at Well Street are available today to design a parent training program for you and your family.

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Parent Training 2018-02-12T11:56:27+00:00

When Parents Suffer from Anxiety

Parenting with Anxiety

Parenting with anxiety can have you feeling like you’re failing the most important people in your life, your children and spouse. Joy can become swept away and special moments turn into grey ones, clouded by constant worrying. Anxiety can prevent you from being the parent you want to be. Irrational thoughts begin to flood your mind, your heart begins to race uncontrollably and your body can turn into jelly. You suddenly find it difficult to be present with your children because you have become a captive to your thoughts. Often times, leaving you feeling powerless.

While everyone has some degree of anxiety, those of us with disorders have an overwhelming amount that can seep into our daily lives, making parenting harder. If you do have anxiety, know that you are not alone. In fact, 18% of the adult population has some kind of anxiety at any given time.

With proper treatment and adoption of any or all of the seven strategies below, you can reclaim your life from anxiety and be the parent you want to be for your child.

  • Go for a walk or exercise. Exercise has been shown to be a great way to relieve anxiety and can include anything from running, joining an aerobics class, circuit training, or yoga.
  • Take a timeout. Finding time to meditate or just taking a break for 15 minutes and engaging in deep breathing exercises can help you calm down when you feel your anxiety creeping up.
  • Play with your hands. You can even involve your children on this one, depending on their age. Play with modeling dough, build something with Legos, color, paint, draw, etc. because by doing so you are taking your mind off your worries. Plus, you’re accomplishing something tangible!
  • Sleep. I know this can be difficult with children, especially with younger ones. But, keep in mind that sleep is paramount to good mental health. Try to sleep when your kids are sleeping and not stay up too late when they are sleeping.
  • Eat well. Nutrition plays a big role in your mood and overall health. Try to eat a balanced diet that includes fiber and protein, giving you longer and slower energy to burn. For some parents, cutting back on caffeine has also shown to help reduce their anxiety. Some parents have also found chamomile tea to be helpful and provide a sense of calm.
  • Connect with friends. Having someone in your circle to talk to can really be helpful in gaining a new perspective. You may also find that voicing your concerns can help you feel more empowered. It’s also helpful to have someone that you can rely on to help you with your children when you really need it. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help!
  • Seek therapy. Therapy can really help you learn more about your anxiety and reshape your automatic thoughts before they impact your feelings. A therapist can also help you learn new relaxation techniques and retrain your brain. With therapy, you may find that your high anxiety days are fewer and farther between. You will also learn to recognize potentially bad days or moments much faster.

Keep in mind that there is hope and that your anxiety is treatable. It’s a work in progress and some people benefit from a multifaceted approach to treating it. Don’t’ let your anxiety deny you the joys of parenting and watching your children grow.

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When Parents Suffer from Anxiety 2018-02-11T00:34:28+00:00

Parenting the ADHD Child

Parenting a Child with ADHD

If you have a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you know how challenging and overwhelming it can be when your child doesn’t listen, finish what was started, or do what was asked. Not to mention, how physically and mentally exhausting it can be to constantly feel like you have to monitor your child. Despite the difficulties ADHD can cause both you and your child, there are some simple strategies that can help control and reduce the symptoms related to ADHD. If you suspect your child may have ADHD, try the free Heads Up Checkup symptom checker. The following tips can help your child overcome daily challenges and bring greater calm to your family.

Establish structure in your home.

Children with ADHD are more likely to complete tasks when the tasks occur in predictable patterns and in predictable places. By creating and sustaining structure in your home, you are helping your child know what to expect and what they are expected to do. The following strategies can help you create and maintain structure at home:

  • Establish simple and predictable rituals for meals, homework, play, and bed. For instance, have your child lay his or her clothing out and his or her school bag packed and placed in the same, accessible spot the night before.
  • Place your child’s schedule in a place that he or she can see.
  • Place clocks and timers throughout the house, especially in your child’s bedroom. A timer can be especially helpful for homework and transitions.  For instance, you can use a timer when you want to transition your child from playtime to bedtime.
  • Make sure your child has a specific, regular place for doing homework, away from distractions.
  • Build lots of regular breaks into homework time.
  • Give your child a special notebook for writing down assignments.
  • Help create a quiet, private space for your child to unwind.
  • Do your best at organizing your home and help your child understand that everything in your home has its own place.
  • Make sure all other caregivers are familiar with your child’s daily routine and everyone adheres to your child’s scheduled routine.

Keep your child busy.

For many children with ADHD, idle time may only exacerbate their symptoms. If this is the case, help keep your child engaged in activities outside of the home that he or she enjoys, such as joining an organized sport, taking an art class, music lessons, or dance.  When home, help your child by organizing activities for him or her, such as helping you cook or bake, playing a game with a sibling, or engaging in an art activity.  Lastly, try to encourage your child to spend time outside.  Recent research has indicated a reduction of ADHD symptoms in children who spend time in nature.  Whatever you do, be mindful of your child to make sure he or she does not feel overwhelmed with all the scheduled activities.

Ensure a proper diet.

All children benefit from healthy, regular meals. Try keeping sodas and foods high in sugar outside of the house. Foods high in sugar can affect your child’s mental state, which in turn can exacerbate hyperactivity in your child. Help create healthy eating habits in your child by scheduling nutritious meals and snacks. It is also helpful to make sure your child eats something nutritious at least every three to four hours, whether that is an apple or granola bar.

Encourage good sleep hygiene.

Lack of sleep makes everyone less attentive than usual. However, it can be even more harmful to a child with ADHD.  Without adequate sleep, your child can become overstimulated and have trouble falling asleep. Below are some approaches you can take to help create better sleep hygiene in your child:

  • Decrease the amount of time your child spends watching television, playing video games, or using a tablet/cell phone. Instead, increase the amount of time your child is engaged in activities and exercises during the day. In fact, it has been shown that exercises lead to better sleep.
  • Eliminate caffeine from your child’s diet.
  • Have your child engage in quieter activities before bedtime, such as drawing or reading.
  • Set a consistent, age-appropriate bedtime for your child and stick with it.
  • Help create a calming bedtime ritual for your child, such as a bath or cuddling.

Establish consistent expectations and rules.

Whatever rules you have as a parent should be clear and easy to understand and follow for your child with ADHD.  When establishing rules, it is helpful to make direct eye contact, give your verbal directions one at a time, and check for understanding. It is also helpful to have the rules written down and placed in a place that is visible to your child. It is also important to establish rewards and consequences and explain what will happen when the rules are followed and when they are broken. Try to stick with the rules and follow through every time with a reward or consequence. Look below for some help in creating a reward and consequence system in your home.

  • Reward your child with privileges, praise, or activities, rather than with food or toys.
  • Change your rewards frequently because children with ADHD get bored if the reward is always the same.
  • Make a chart with points or stars awarded for good behavior, so your child has a visual reminder of his or her successes.  Place this chart next to where you have your rules in the house.
  • Immediate rewards work better than the promise of a future reward, but small rewards leading to a big one can also work.
  • Always follow through with a reward.
  • Consequences should be spelled out in advance and occur immediately after your child has misbehaved.
  • Try time-outs and the removal of privileges as consequences for misbehavior.
  • Remove your child from situations and environments that trigger inappropriate behavior.
  • When your child misbehaves, ask what he or she could have done instead. Then have your child demonstrate it.
  • Always follow through with a consequence.

It’s also important to note that praise and encouragement are really important for children with ADHD because they usually receive complaints about their behaviors.  Simple praise for appropriate behavior or task completion can go a long way for your child with ADHD. Try to be on the lookout for good behavior, even for small achievements that may not be a big deal in your other children.

Stay positive!

Granted this may seem impossible some days. But, keep in mind that you set the stage for your child’s emotional and physical health. You can help positively influence your child’s ADHD symptoms. Below are some tips to help keep you staying positive:

  • Keep in mind that your child’s behaviors are related to his or her disorder. Often times, he or she is not acting out intentionally.
  • Believe that your child can mature, learn, and succeed because with proper help and changes in the house, he or she will.
  • Take care of your self both physically and emotionally. Your stress levels can spill over to other aspects of your life, including your energy and patience. Try to eat right, exercise, and engage in activities that help you wind down.
  • If you are fortunate enough to have help from family members or friends to babysit your child, use it for yourself. Many parents feel guilty about leaving their child, however, you may find that you feel rejuvenated from just stepping away for a short time. Thus, giving you more energy to handle your child’s behaviors.

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Parenting the ADHD Child 2018-02-12T16:18:48+00:00