It can be tough to acknowledge depression during what is supposed to be a joyous time. But as many as 1 in 5 women have symptoms of depression during pregnancy. You’re at higher risk if you have a history of depression.
Hormonal changes or stress can worsen existing depression. Pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness, fatigue, and mood swings can also contribute. It’s important to your growing baby that you take care of yourself, eat well, sleep well, and get regular prenatal care. You may worry that antidepressants may harm your unborn baby. While there are risks associated with antidepressant use in pregnancy, not treating depression may be more risky than taking medicine. Work with your doctor to find the best solution for you.
Your ob-gyn or primary doctor may screen you for depression at a routine office visit. He can ask you a series of questions to determine your risk for depression and can offer treatment if necessary.
Also called an exercise electrocardiogram, treadmill test, graded exercise test, or stress ECG, an exercise stress test can tell your doctor how well your heart handles physical activity. You typically walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike while your doctor watches your heart rate and blood pressure.
Your doctor uses this test to:
See if your heart gets enough blood when you’re physically active
See how likely you are to have coronary heart disease
Check for abnormal heart rhythms
Find out how well your heart medications are working or see if any procedures you’ve had done have improved the blood flow in your heart vessels
Help figure out a safe exercise program for you
How Should I Prepare for the Exercise Stress Test?
Your doctor will give you specific instructions on what to do before your stress test. If you have diabetes, ask them if you should take your medication before the test.
If you take insulin to control your blood sugar, ask your doctor how much medication you should take the day of the test and if you should eat a light meal.
If you take pills to control your blood sugar, you may be told to wait and take your medication after the test.
If you have a glucose monitor, bring it with you to check your blood sugar levels before and after your exercise stress test. If you think your blood sugar is low, tell the lab technician right away.
Don’t drink or eat foods with caffeine for 24 hours before the test. Caffeine can affect the results of your test.
You may be told not to take certain heart or blood pressure medications the morning of the test that could affect your results. If you have any questions about your medications, ask your doctor. Don’t stop taking any medication without talking with your doctor first.
If you use an inhaler for your breathing, you may need to bring it with you.
On the day of the test, wear soft-soled shoes that are good for walking and comfortable clothes. Don’t bring any valuables.
If sexual issues are preventing true closeness between you and your partner, you may want to consider some form of therapy.
If the problem is a lack of knowledge about sex, your health care provider or a sex therapist can teach you (and your partner) about the sexual response cycle and the elements of sexual stimulation. Armed with this new knowledge, many couples can go forward on their own.
Psychotherapy can help a woman identify problems in her life that may be expressed as sexual problems.
For some women these problems are fairly clear, including past sexual or other abuse, rape, or traumatic sexual encounters.
For others, the problems may be less clear-cut, involving unresolved emotional issues or dissatisfaction with other areas of life.
In either case, the therapist usually focuses on resetting the woman’s attitudes toward sex.
The goal is to get rid of old attitudes that get in the way of enjoyable sex, establishing new attitudes that increase sexual responsiveness.
If the problem relates to your relationship, couples counseling is recommended. (You don’t have to be married to go to a “marriage counselor.
The couples therapist is trained and experienced at helping couples recognize, understand, and solve their problems.
First, the counselor explores the relationship to find the trouble spots.
The counselor will recommend exercises and activities that will improve the couple’s communication and trust.
If that can be accomplished, often the sexual problem can be solved more easily.
A Couples therapist may take couples therapy one step further by focusing on the couple’s physical relationship. After identifying the couple’s attitudes about sex and the sexual problem, the sex therapist recommends specific exercises to refocus the couple’s attention and expectations. Specific objectives may include any of the following:
Learning to relax and eliminate distractions
Learning to communicate in a positive way what you would like
Learning nonsexual touching techniques
Increasing or enhancing sexual stimulation
Minimizing pain during intercourse
Sex therapists often use what are called “sensate focus” exercises to treat sexual problems. The exercises start with nonsexual touching and encourage both partners to express how they like to be touched. The goal is to help both partners understand how to recognize and communicate their preferences.
Benefits of Group Therapy for Mental Health
Probably the biggest advantage of group therapy is helping a patient realize that he or she is not alone — that there are other people who have similar problems. This is often a revelation, and a huge relief, to the person.
Being in group therapy can also help you develop new skills to relate to others. The dynamics of a group often mirror those of society in general, and learning how to interact with the other members of the group can help you in your relationships outside the group. In addition, the members of the group who have the same problem(s) can support each other, and may offer suggestions to dealing with a particular problem that you may not have thought of.
You may be uncomfortable at first when it comes time to discuss your problems in front of strangers. However, the fact that others are facing the same type of situation as you may help you open up and discuss your feelings. In addition, everything that takes place within the group therapy session is kept confidential.
What to Expect in Group Therapy
Group therapy sessions vary, but the basic format is a small group of patients meet on a regular basis to discuss their feelings and problems and provide mutual support. Unlike self-help support groups, sessions are guided by a professional therapist who is specially trained in group therapy. The therapist acts as moderator and may suggest a “theme” or topic for the group’s discussion. Sometimes, the therapist will allow the group members to pick the topic for the session.
As part of the group therapy session, members try to change their old ways of behaving in favor of newer, more productive ways. Typically, there is a great deal of interaction and discussion among the members of the group. The members may also undertake specific activities, such as addressing certain fears and anxieties.