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Non-Drug Treatments for Depression

Depression during pregnancy and postpartum is fairly common, affecting anywhere from 15% to 25% of women. Antidepressants [link antidepressants] are an important part of the treatment arsenal for depression. But clinicians, and women themselves, are increasingly concerned about their use in pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Specifically, do antidepressants taken during pregnancy cause birth defects?

Influenza Virus in Pregnancy

Influenza is a viral infection that affects the respiratory tract. It is especially risky in pregnant women and increases the risk of premature delivery, abortion, and stillbirth. Pregnant women are also at an increased risk of complications from the virus. These complications include pneumonia followed by ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) requiring hospitalization and mechanical ventilation.

Head Lice

Head lice or Pediculus humanus capitis, attack as many as 12 million children every year. Lice are spread by direct contact with infested hair. Sharing combs, brushes, beds, and hats may also contribute to the spread of these parasites. Lice infestations in the U.S. are more frequent in girls and lead to stigma and absenteeism from school or day care.

Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy

Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) also known as “morning sickness” is one of the most common conditions of pregnancy that affect approximately 80% of pregnant women.  Although the cause is still unknown (many theories exist), we do know that most women have resolution of symptoms by the time they are 16 weeks pregnant.

Breastfeeding May Protect Against Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune enteropathy triggered by components of the gluten protein found in many cereal grains. Also known as “non-tropical sprue” and “gluten-sensitive enteropathy,” this condition afflicts about 1% of the US population with cramping, bloating, and mal-absorptive diarrhea upon exposure to gluten. Many more people likely have atypical or subclinical presentations that remain undiagnosed.

Depression in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Clinical depression is more than just sadness. Although there are clear patterns, the symptoms can be very different from person to person. The most common symptom is called “anhedonia,” or no longer taking pleasure in fun activities. Some people become insomniacs, some sleep most of the day. Other people start abusing drugs and alcohol, while some simply get irritable and short-tempered. No lab or imaging tests can help diagnose depression, only the clinical judgment of a health-care practitioner. There are several clinical tools available to help diagnose depression.

Skin Care for Acne

Adult acne during pregnancy and breastfeeding is a common problem. Under these circumstances, the adrenal glands secrete higher levels of androgen hormones that cause the sebaceous glands in the skin to increase in size and production. The extra oil clogs the enlarged pores and promotes the growth of bacteria, especially Propionibacterium acnes.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease in Pregnancy

Gastroesophageal reflux is a back flow of stomach contents into the esophagus. This phenomenon occurs in virtually everyone from time to time. The sphincter muscle that divides the esophagus from the stomach must open periodically to allow food and saliva entry into the stomach, and is not always able to close again quickly.

Increased Risk of Pyloric Stenosis with Formula Feeding with Bottles.

Pyloric stenosis (PS), also known as infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis, is caused by hypertrophy of smooth muscles of the pylorus.  The pylorus is the outlet of the stomach and therefore its constriction leads to obstruction, often observed as projectile vomiting in the newborn infant. Its cause is unknown but presents as a palpable mass in right upper quadrant of abdomen. It is a common condition that requires surgery in first few days to months after birth, suggesting that environmental factors could be a trigger.

Bright Light Therapy for Depression

Some people dread the change of seasons. Shorter, darker days mean fatigue, oversleeping, too many carbs, and having a general sense of malaise: a pattern known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Seasonal affective disorder is depression that occurs during late fall and winter months, as darkness occurs earlier in the day. Symptoms include depression, lethargy, difficulty waking, and craving carbohydrates, which often leads to weight gain. Seasonal depression may be an issue for some of the women we see. Fortunately, safe treatments for pregnant and breastfeeding women are available.
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