June Wellness Corner

Recognizing Postpartum Depression

Becoming a parent is often associated with a lot of positive emotions – the joy of meeting your little one, the delight of introducing them to friends and family, and, for some, the relief of no longer being pregnant. What is less talked about is that giving birth can also be associated with a lot of negative emotions and physical feelings.

“Baby blues” happen to many people after they have given birth. Caring for an infant around the clock is quite an adjustment, and some feelings of exhaustion and being overwhelmed are natural. Often these feelings clear up quickly.  However, if these feelings stick around or worsen, postpartum depression may be involved.

Postpartum depression is a blanket term for a host of feelings someone may suffer after giving birth or completing the adoption process,, including anxiety, extreme fatigue, irritability, lack of interest in the baby, mood swings, and lack of hope. There are many potential factors that cause PPD, including drastic changes in hormone levels, exhaustion of new schedules, and social and psychological changes. It’s important to note that PPD is a medical issue. It does not occur because a new parent has done anything wrong.

Changes in your feelings:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day every day
  • Feeling shame, guilt or like a failure
  • Feeling panicked or scared a lot of the time
  • Having severe mood swings

Changes in your everyday life:

  • Having little interest in things you normally like to do
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Eating a lot more or a lot less than is normal for you
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions

Changes in how you think about yourself or your baby:

  • Having trouble bonding with your baby
  • Thinking about hurting yourself or your baby
  • Thinking about suicide (killing yourself)

If these symptoms persist beyond two weeks, worsen, or severely interfere with regular life activities, talk to your doctor about finding help. Often combinations of medication and therapy help new parents get back on track. If you are having thoughts about hurting yourself or someone else, call 911. You can also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HELLO to 741741.

Physical Health Corner People, Pets & Vets

Exercise balls are a staple of many gyms, typically stacked next to foam rollers and yoga mats, and have many uses. There are simple exercises that you can do with them at the gym, at home, or even at work to strengthen your low back and core. Keeping these muscle groups strong will help your posture and make lifting heavy items easier and safer.

The simplest way to use an exercise ball is to use it in place of a chair. Its instability means you will have to activate your abdominal muscles and your low back in order to stay upright. Focus on keeping your spine straight – don’t slouch over. If you want to add an element of difficulty, use the balls of your feet to bounce slightly up and down. This will keep your core and low back even more engaged.

If you prefer a standing exercise, try wall squats. Place the ball at the small of your back between your spine and the wall. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and then squat downward, not leaning too hard into the ball, and then stand back up. It’s important to not let your knees extend over your toes – if this happens, you’re squatting too deeply.

To specifically engage your core, you can do abdominal crunches on the ball. Sit centered on the ball with your feet steady on the ground in front of you. Tighten your abs and lean back as far as you comfortably can. Stay there for 3 or 4 seconds before steadily bringing yourself back to a seated position. Repeat this 10 or so times until those muscles feel fatigued.

While these may seem like small things, these exercises can do wonders for muscles you use every single day – give it a try!

Social Health Corner People, Pets & Vets

While credit cards can be helpful in certain situations, they can also land you in debt. The interest rate on unpaid balances each month can be up to 30%. Month over month, that initial charge can balloon into an unmanageable amount and negatively impact your credit score.

There are some steps to take to get out of credit card debt. First, examine your spending habits to find out how you got in debt to start with. Compare how much money you spend to how much you earn. If the former is higher than the latter, you either need to cut back on expenses or bring in more income. With this knowledge, you can make a budget to follow (click HERE for tips on creating a budget).

Now that you’re aware of how much you have to spend, make sure to pay more than the minimum required amount for each card. This will incrementally reduce the amount of money you have to pay interest on. To avoid paying extra for late fees, consider automating your monthly payments, especially if you have a guaranteed, steady income stream.

There are two main tactics to tackling the debts themselves, the avalanche method and the snowball method. With the avalanche method, you pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate first while paying the minimum on other cards. This helps you take out the most expensive debt first. The snowball method entails paying off the smallest debt first, and then building on that win to pay off more expensive ones. Getting out of credit card debt isn’t easy, but it can be done!

If you would like additional information on emotional and mental health, you can confidentially contact me at the information below.