All posts in Mental Health

Eight Mood Boosters for the Winter Blues

When the Days are Darker, Shorter, and Colder, What Can You Do to Boost Your Mood?

Little boy enjoying playing with his young mom and dad. Toddler kid holding hands with parents. Children play outdoors in snow. Kids sled in winter park. Outdoor active fun for family vacation.On December 21, the day of the Winter Solstice, Buffalo will receive only about nine hours of daylight. The average high temperature in December is about 36 degrees, with a low of 24, and we accumulate about 27 inches of snow. In a month that brings such dark, cold, snowy days that it can be easy to sigh, sit on the couch, and adopt the mantra of, “I’ll be inside binge watching Netflix until Spring.”

Winter months don’t have to result in your seasonal hibernation, however. If cold, dark days leave you feeling uninspired, unmotivated, and unhappy, it’s time to change your perspective on winter and learn how to become the master of your mood. Here are eight tips to help you beat the winter blues this year.

  1. Stay Active. It may not feel as motivating to go for a long walk on a winter day as it does during the summer, but bundle up and head outside when the sun’s out, and you’ll benefit from exposure to much-needed sunlight, and endorphin-boosting exercise. Oh, and don’t forget your sunscreen. Winter sun can damage your skin too.
  2. Start a Project or a New Hobby. Once the holidays are over, your calendar may be pretty open, and without weekend trips to the lake to look forward to, you may find you have extra time on your hands. Rather than spend that time watching Netflix or college basketball all winter, try a new hobby or start a project. Maybe it’s finally time to try skiing (which gets you active, outdoors, and exposed to sunlight), or repaint your guest room.
  3. Stay Warm. Being warm is a mood booster. While you may not have much control over the office thermostat, keep your home heated to a comfortable temperature, and warm your body from the inside out with warm foods and beverages, like healthy soups and decaffeinated teas.
  4. Don’t Let Your Diet Suffer. You may naturally feel more motivated to eat healthy during the summer when weekly trips to your local farmer’s market send you home with fresh fruits and veggies, but you have to keep the diet drive alive in winter too. While you may be more tempted to reach for high-calorie comfort food on cold days, make sure you’re fueling your body with healthy foods to keep your energy up.
  5. Sing a Song. Music has been proven to help improve one’s mood. On days when you’re just not feeling motivated, or when your daily commute through the snow has you on edge, pump your favorite tunes and sing along.
  6. Seek Exposure to Artificial Light. A light box or UV lamp that is designed to produce mood-boosting vitamin D rays has been scientifically proven to help boost your mood. These devices are inexpensive and are particularly helpful for those who work long hours indoors, or who experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a mood disorder often triggered in the winter.
  7. Stay Social. A simple way to boost your mood in the winter is to surround yourself with people who make you happy. Make sure you’re spending time with family and friends during the winter. When winter driving can be unpredictable, it can be easy to cancel plans, or not make them in the first place. Make an effort to get out of the house and spend time with your loved ones. You’ll all benefit from time together doing activities you enjoy. Volunteering is another way to stay active, interact with your community, and give you a reason to smile.
  8. Get Out of Town. It may seem like cheating, but planning a vacation to somewhere warm and sunny during winter months can give you a temporary break from the monotony of winter and help you push through the rest of the season when you come home.

Talk to Your Doctor.

If you feel like nothing you’ve tried helps you improve your mood or keep you motivated during the winter, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with more complex forms of SAD and depression. Make an appointment to talk to your doctor. He/she can diagnose a more serious condition, and put a treatment plan in place to help you conquer your mood once and for all.

And remember depression might be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as hypothyroidism or postpartum depression or a Vitamin D deficiency. The team of physicians at Chouchani, Sayegh and Robinson MD are here to help diagnose any conditions and discuss treatment options. Give us a call today.


Stress Less This Spring with These Nine Mood Busters

Stress Less This Spring with These Nine Mood Busters

What does your stress feel like? Is it a weight on your shoulders? A nervousness in your gut? A pounding in your head? What causes these feelings of stress? Work deadlines? The busy schedule that comes with being a mom? The pressure to make everyone around you happy and comfortable?

Believe it or not, you can reduce your stress levels, no matter what is causing them, and mitigate the stress symptoms that are bringing you down. Read on for nine mood busting tips that will help you take control of your mind, body, and soul, control your stress, and carry on with confidence.

  1. Deep Breathing. Breathing exercises are one of the most effective ways of learning to quiet your mind, calm your racing heart, and lower anxiety levels. When you feel your stress levels escalating, take a five-minute break and focus on your breathing. Place your hand on your belly, and slowly inhale through your nose and then exhale through your mouth, feeling your breath move from your abdomen to the top of your head. This simple exercise can help you learn to control your anxiety levels and reduce feelings of stress.
  2. Meditate. Meditation has been proven to help ease anxiety and improve your mood. Even a few minutes per day of quiet, inward reflection and focused breathing can help train your brain to better manage stressful moments when anxiety flares.
  3. Exercise Regularly. A regular fitness routine, especially one that involves cardio or yoga, can help you reduce stress. It may seem like the last thing you have the energy to do after a stressful day is haul yourself to the gym, but in reality, a quick sweat session can reduce stress, release tension, and help calm your nerves.
  4. Maintain a Healthy Diet. Well-nourished bodies are better able to cope with stress. Your diet has a profound impact of your mental and emotional health. If you smoke, regularly consume alcohol or illicit drugs, over-consume sugar, and/or drink caffeine, consider cutting back on these stress-boosting diet factors.
  5. Rely on Your Social Network. We don’t necessarily mean Facebook. When times get tough, reach out to the family and friends in your life who you can rely on for emotional support. Unburden your worries on a sympathetic ear. Talking through your problems can help you see solutions to your stresses and find your internal calm. Face-to-face support is always better and encourages you to get out, get moving, and enjoy a change of scenery.
  6. Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule. Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling agitated, restless, and stressed the next day. Make sure you get enough sleep—whatever the right number of hours is for you—to allow you to wake up feeling refreshed, comfortable, and ready to take on the day.
  7. Find the Humor. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress and is an inexpensive, and effortless way to reduce stress. Put on your favorite comedy or get together for a girls’ night out. What’s most important is that you give your stress somewhere to go by emitting it as laughter.
  8. Sing and Dance. Music can have a powerful effect on our emotions. Crank up your favorite tunes and sing, or dance. Movement and song can help release tension, give you a reason to smile, and help you focus on less emotionally strenuous factors in your life. If you prefer soothing music to upbeat music, consider a playlist of classical tunes, or ocean sounds. Listen to it while you relax quietly, focusing on your breathing and heart rate.
  9. Manage Your Time. One of the biggest stress factors that many people face is an overburdened schedule. Remember that it’s okay to say no to requests and invitations. Rather than packing each and every day full of work, volunteer shifts, social engagements, and favors to others, make sure each day includes a period of time that is just for you to ensure self-care and a daily moment of stress-free mental and physical rest.

Remember, your mood can be controlled by you and the decisions that you make to choose a healthy life. Don’t feel overwhelmed if you’re wondering where to start. Choose just one of these mood-busters, and then add more to your daily routine one at a time until you feel you have taken control of your stress factors. Remember, you can always talk to your doctor. He or she can give you advice for how to further manage the stress factors in your life so you can be the best version of you for your family, your friends, and yourself.


Three Tips for Enjoying the Holiday Season

Holiday stressThe holiday season is in full swing! While the holidays are, for many, the most wonderful time of the year, they can also be fa la la frustrating. Between parties, shopping, gift wrapping, baking, traveling, and unpredictable weather, not to mention our normal day-to-day responsibilities, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can take a toll on our mental and physical well-being. To ensure you are able to enjoy the holidays this season, and to help you mitigate the risk of holiday stress, read our three tips to help you enjoy the holiday season.

Stay Organized

A normal week for you may already include work, your kids’ extracurricular activities, volunteering, and other appointments. Add to that holiday parties, concerts, community events, and shopping, and you can easily find yourself double or triple booked. Rely on a calendar or day planner to keep you organized. Whether you prefer a paper planner or a calendar app on your smartphone, there are plenty of tools that will help you plan your daily schedule.

Remember, before you commit to attending the town tree lighting, or you make plans with your church group to deliver holiday gifts, check your calendar to see what else you had planned for that day. Make sure you’re not taking on so many activities that the stress of participating in so many events diminishes the enjoyment you feel at each one. Know that it’s okay to pass on an activity, event, or invitation if you can’t fit it in, or if you just need a break. The holidays are about friends and family, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise your own wellbeing.

Eat Healthy and Stick to Your Exercise Routine

The holidays bring with them an overwhelming amount of food that is not normally part of our usual routines. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, you may find yourself participating in a work potluck, three parties, and a cookie exchange, not to mention the fact that you may be the recipient of gifts of candies, cakes, and baked goods from friends and family.

It can be hard to pass-up those holiday treats that we only get once a year, like frosted sugar cookies, yule logs, and rum balls, but keep in mind that if over the course of the holiday season your diet slips, you’ll be feeling it come New Year’s.

Commit to indulging in only your absolute favorite holiday treats. Otherwise, make healthy decisions at parties and events. Sample just a small amount of holiday appetizers, or stick to the veggie tray and just sip one glass of wine. Remember that parties and events are about spending time with loved ones. With that focus, food will easily take a back seat.

Also, remember to stick to your regular exercise routine. This can be especially difficult when you start adding extra holiday events to your calendar, but make sure you are prioritizing exercise, even if that means saying no to an invitation. If you maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine, you’ll sleep better and feel better throughout the season, and start 2017 out on the right foot.

Set a Budget

One of the most frustrating aspects of the holidays can be the financial strain it can cause. You may find yourself shopping for dozens of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, co-workers, and other family members, or making extra-large holiday charitable donations, or chipping-in for the office holiday party, or even indulging in a new dress for that swanky holiday party you’ll be attending.

To ensure you don’t over-spend and end-up with a pile of holiday debt and the stress that comes with it, set a budget for all things holiday: gifts, donations, and extra events. Most importantly, stick to that budget. It can be hard to pull back when you find a special gift you really want to give, but remember, what’s more important than what you give to someone, is the time you spend with them.

By staying organized, eating healthy, and maintaining a budget, you can focus on what really matters this holiday season—the joy you feel spending time with those you love.


Stress Less with these 10 Simple Stress Busters

Meditation in stress reliefStress. Just hearing the word can conjure that knot in your stomach, sweaty palmed, anxious feeling. Stress is more than just a mental state. High levels of ongoing stress can cause serious physical effects on your body. For many women, stress symptoms include headaches, fatigue, chest pain, sleeplessness, and stomach aches. While life’s stress triggers are not always in our control, managing stress is in our control. Follow these ten simple steps to reduce stress and stay healthy.

  • Focus you breathing. Breathing from your diaphragm helps bring oxygen to your blood, which can instantly produce a calming sensation. To focus your breathing, place your hand on your abdomen and inhale slowly through your nose, making sure that you can see your hand move out as your abdomen expands. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly. Repeat until you feel you have achieved your desired level of calm.
  • Exercise regularly. Your body will be better able to physically battle stress when you keep it in fighting shape.
  • Eat a healthy diet. The foods you consume can do a lot to mentally and physically prepare you for life’s stressors. A diet high in processed foods, saturated or trans fats, and sugars can amplify your body’s physical reactions to stress. A healthy, balanced diet will help counter the impact of stress by strengthening your immune system and lowering blood pressure.
  • Just say no. Avoid smoking, alcohol, and recreational drugs. These chemicals can accentuate stress hormones and further damage your body’s protective immune system.
  • Give yourself a mental break. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, and especially if you feel the physical signs of stress coming on, like a racing heart or a headache, physically separate yourself from whatever situation is causing you stress. Take a walk outside, sit quietly for five minutes, or go someplace where you can gather yourself and refocus on what truly matters.
  • Seek soothing sounds. Research shows that listening to calming music can reduce feelings of anxiety, lower blood pressure, and slow your heart rate. Tune in to classical music, nature sounds, or whatever your favorite style is that puts you in the mood to smile.
  • Get plenty of sleep. When your body and mind are over-tired, it can be more difficult to focus, manage your time effectively, and make good decisions – all stress triggers. Make sure you are getting at least six hours of sleep every night, no matter what is on your “to-do” list.
  • Meditate. For many, meditation is an effective technique for calming the mind, lowering the heart rate, and refocusing priorities. Meditation emphasizes the power of positive thinking, which is another important trick for managing high stress levels.
  • Build an emotional support system. Whether you just had a bad day, or you are coping with a life event that has raised your stress levels over time, everyone needs someone they can turn to for emotional support. Identify who in your life you can rely on when you need help managing stress. It may be a spouse, sibling, best friend, life coach, or religious leader.
  • Laugh. Laughter is an important stress-reducing technique. When you find you need a mental break from stress triggers, turn your attention to something that will make you laugh. Flip on your favorite comedy, scan some funny online videos, or play with your toddler.

No one can fully protect themselves from life’s greatest challenges, but by understanding that you can control how you manage your stress, you can feel confident that you can successfully manage whatever life events come your way.


More than Just Beauty Sleep: Why Sleep Matters More for Women than Men

Woman sleepWe’ve all been there. It’s Friday night and you decide to stay in with your husband. Half way through the movie, you’ve fallen asleep on the couch, and the next morning, you’re left trying to explain why couldn’t stay awake past 9:30 p.m. If you’re constantly feeling like you require more hours of sleep each night than your husband, know that there is science to help support your sleepiness. Studies show that women’s brains are more complex than those of their male counterparts, resulting in a greater need for more nighttime ZZZ’s.

According to researchers, women tend to use more of their brains on a daily basis. Women are more likely to spend time multi-tasking, a behavior that maximizes their brains and requires more energy. To help revive them each night, women need about an extra 20 minutes of sleep compared to men.

Despite the fact that women need slightly more sleep than men, they are often pushing their bodies to the limit and are too often running on empty. Just a few of the reasons why women tend to get less overall sleep than men include such factors as being awoken by their male partners or children, pregnancy, and greater levels of stress and worry. The consequences of such exhausting behavior can be severe. Research has found that women who don’t get enough sleep are at risk of suffering from depression and are more likely to experience feelings of anger and hostility.

As if these side effects weren’t enough to make you start turning in early, researchers have also found that women who don’t get enough sleep are at a greater risk of overeating throughout the day. Data supports that women who go to bed earlier eat over 200 calories less than those who stayed up later. In addition, research finds that women who go to bed between 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. each night are more likely to eat healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and foods high in fiber. Women who stay up later, however, tend to eat more processed meats, foods higher in saturated fats, and consume more caffeine.

If you are among the millions of women suffering from lack of sleep and its side effects, know that you can obtain more hours of higher quality sleep at night by making small, simple changes to your daily routine. Follow these steps to get more quality nighttime shuteye:

  • Plan to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol before bed.
  • Reduce the amount of daily caffeine you consume.
  • Eat your bigger meals earlier in the day.
  • Try not to drink too much liquid before bed.
  • While napping can help your body catch-up on lost sleep, avoid the temptation if it makes it difficult for you to go to bed at your normal bedtime.

If you believe you aren’t getting enough regular sleep, start listening to your body and make a plan to prioritize your health and wellbeing by striving for a better night’s sleep. Your body, mind, and soul will thank you.

And if you are having trouble falling or staying asleep, talk to your doctor. He/she can help you develop a plan to get back on a healthy routeneTru.


Why Less Stress is Best for Your Overall Health

Happy moment of Indian CoupleStress can have a serious impact on your overall wellbeing. It can negate your ability to sleep, focus, fight off illness, and even maintain a healthy diet and exercise schedule. While you cannot always control the external factors that cause increased levels of stress, there are ways to reduce the impact that stress places on your mind and body. By reducing the amount of stress that you feel on a recurring basis, you can improve your overall health, wellness, and happiness.

The body’s response to stress

When you experience stress, your brain undergoes a change in the rate of certain naturally occurring chemicals, including the neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals in turn increase the production of such hormones as adrenaline. The release of these “fight-or-flight” hormones causes such physical changes in your body as a speeding heart rate, higher blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. If not managed, over time these increased rates of hormones and chemicals can lead to the development of such physical conditions as stomach ulcers, stroke, asthma, and heart disease. In addition, the tensing of muscles that results from continued stress can trigger tension headaches, migraines, and other musculoskeletal conditions. Many health care professionals even believe that chronic stress can increase rates of cancer, or heart attack.

Stress can also wreak havoc on your digestive system, as it interferes with the body’s ability to absorb necessary nutrients, and influences how quickly food moves through the body. As a result, the body experiences triggers to either eat more, or less than normal, which can result in such digestive issues as nausea, pain, vomiting, heartburn, constipation, acid reflux or diarrhea, in addition to unnecessary weight loss or gain.

The mind’s response to stress

Stress not only affects your body, it can hurt your mental and emotional wellbeing. Stress can cause such emotional disorders as depression, anxiety, phobias, and panic attacks. Chronic emotional stress can also decrease your ability to focus, make decisions, and remember tasks and facts. In addition, when stressed your emotions can fluctuate wildly, with periods of stress causing us to feel irritable, frustrated, angry, or insecure. Such extreme moods can impact relationships with friends and family, which may be the most emotionally destructive side effect of stress.

While the impact of chronic stress on your day-to-day life can be severe, you do not have to resign to suffer, especially if you feel that your stress triggers are out of your control. There are many ways to reduce the levels of stress chemicals that your body produces when times get tough. To properly manage your stress, practice these techniques:

  • Meditate. Meditation encourages the relaxation of the mind and can reduce stress and tension.
  • Exercise regularly. It may feel impossible to commit to a regular exercise routine if your stress is caused by a hectic schedule, but committing to even twenty minutes of mild to moderate exercise four times a week can help counteract the side effects of stress by releasing positive stress-reducing endorphins and improving sleep. If you are looking to ease into a new exercise routine, consider beginning with a walking schedule.
  • Practice yoga. Like meditation, yoga can relax both the mind and body, helping to mitigate the physical and emotional symptoms of stress.
  • Eat healthfully. Along with regular activity, eating a diet complete with healthy whole foods can reduce the side effects of stress. During difficult times, your body needs vitamin B, magnesium, and calcium. Talk to your doctor about supplementing your diet with vitamins if necessary.
  • Avoid caffeine and sugar. For those who crave chocolate during times of stress, this infamous comfort food can cause more harm than good. Caffeine and sugar are stimulants that can contribute to stress and depression.
  • Increase quality sleep hours. Getting enough sleep is essential to reducing stress. Since stress can physically drain the body, not getting sufficient hours of sleep can exacerbate stress symptoms.

By implementing proper stress-reducing techniques and committing to a well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep, you can protect yourself from the side effects of stress and ensure that life’s pressures don’t drain your emotional or physical wellbeing.



Becoming Aware of Your Own Mental Health

Sad woman holding her forehead with her hand on white backgroundUnderstanding the signs of depression and anxiety

You’re having a bad day. Again. You’re feeling anxious and nervous, or even sad and hopeless. Everyone has moments of anxiety or sadness, but how do you know what your intermittent feelings of anxiousness or despondency are more than just a series of bad days? How do you know when you’re facing a more serious health issue and should seek treatment? Read on to learn more about anxiety and depression and their symptoms, and then take our brief questionnaire to determine if you should speak to a health care professional.

Mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression impact men and women differently, and for some women, only appear during pregnancy or the postpartum period. Two of the most common issues that women face are anxiety disorder and depressive disorder.

Anxiety Disorder

There are a variety of diagnosable anxiety disorders, including:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Social phobia, or social anxiety disorder

It is believed that anxiety disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, the environment, psychological factors, and development factors. Unlike the mild levels of nervousness that many people experience when faced with a finite stressful experience, anxiety disorders typically last at least 6 months, with symptoms escalating if untreated. Each anxiety disorder has different symptoms, but all are predicated upon an excessive, irrational fear and dread

Depressive Disorders

Depressive disorders are a more extreme, and interruptive form of the sadness that individuals can experience from time to time. When an individual suffers from depressive disorder, it can interfere with day-to-day functioning. Like anxiety disorder, depressive disorder comes in many forms that span the severity continuum including:<

  • Minor depression
  • Dysthymic disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Psychotic depression
  • Season affective disorder (SAD)
  • Bipolar disorder

Scientists believe that depressive disorders are caused by genetic, biological, chemical, hormonal, environmental, psychological, and social factors. While signs and symptoms vary depending on the diagnosed condition, in general, symptoms of depressive disorder may include:

  • Persistent sad, “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Fatigue or decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Suicidal ideation or attempted suicide
  • Physical pain in the form of persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems

If you feel that you are experiencing something more than occasional nervousness or despondency and that you may be suffering from anxiety or depressive disorder, complete the questionnaire below.

In the past month, have you (check all that apply):

 Experienced repeated feelings of hopelessness or emptiness?
 Experienced severe and unexplainable mood swings?
 Felt like you are constantly worried about things you cannot control?
 Worried about the amount of alcohol you consume on a daily or weekly basis?
 Felt more than twice a week like you have little interest in activities, hobbies, work, friends or family?
 Had difficulty sleeping more than twice per week?
 Felt like you have no energy on most days?
 Felt like you are worthless, a failure, or have let down your family, friends, or co-workers?
 Had trouble concentrating or remembering details on a daily basis?
 Felt like the world would be better off without you, or considered suicide?

If you checked 3 or more of the statements above, make an appointment to speak with your health care provider today. There are many available treatments for mental health disorders, and your physician can properly diagnose your condition and help you find a treatment plan that will work best for you.

Drs. Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello are concerned for the overall health of our patients.  We can recommend options and specialists to help you overcome anxiety and/or depression.


5 Powerful & Natural Mood Boosters For Women

Beautiful girl enjoying music in parkHave you ever had one of those days where everything seems to go wrong? Your car won’t start, it starts to rain and you don’t have an umbrella, you forget your coffee or your lunch or you can’t find your keys… of course you have. We all do! But next time your day starts to go wrong, try one or more of these proven ways to boost your mood and make you feel better instantly.

  1. Turn on Some Tunes. Whether on your car radio or your iPod, put on some music and dance or sing along! (yes, you can dance in the car. Carefully.) A 2003 study in the journal Psychology and Education found that people who listened to music of any kind were instantly happier, calmer and more relaxed. If you’re stressed, music can calm your nerves—literally! It’s the music itself—not the lyrics—that affects mood. So listen to something with an upbeat rhythm and melody.
  2. Do Unto Others. Try doing something nice for others. Buy a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line at the drive-through, donate to a cause or volunteer your time. Spending as little as $5 on someone else can help you experience increased feelings of satisfaction, according to a 2008 study in the journal Science. And when researchers analyzed 37 studies on volunteering, they found that people who offered their time had a better sense of well-being, were happier with their lives and were less likely to feel sad and anxious.
  3. Get Outside. Even when the weather is lousy, spend at least five minutes outdoors to help chase your blues away. Appreciate the sun, the snow, the rain or wind, whichever you’re experiencing. And if at all possible, take a quick walk. Research has proved that performing a low-intensity workout outside for even just five minutes can raise your self-esteem and mood levels. Take a walk around the block to calm down and get a positive outlook on life.
  4. Look Through Pictures That Will Make You Smile. Believe it or not, researchers from the United Kingdom found that looking at happy photos beat out chocolate, wine and watching TV when it comes to lifting your mood. Go through your Facebook feed or go through old photo albums to reminisce over happy times in your life.
  5. Take a Break From the World. Have you ever meditated or done yoga? If not, try! Sometimes, to boost your mood, you just need a quiet place to breathe. And study after study has shown that meditation can ease anxiety and increase positivity in your mood. Regular yoga practitioners have been found to have higher levels of depression-fighting neurotransmitters. Both practices require you to turn off the outside world to focus on your breaths and your thoughts, which may help you rationalize and rebalance after something has thrown you for a loop.

Chouchani, Sayega and Bagnarello MD cares about your overall health including your mental health. If something feels off or not right, please discuss it with us at your next appointment or make an appointment today.  


Warning Signs Of Post-Partum Depression And Where You Can Find Help

Mother With Baby Suffering From Post Natal DepressionAfter giving birth, you may get the “baby blues” for a week or two. You might experience mood swings, feelings of ambivalence toward motherhood, mild depression, and the tendency to burst into tears for no apparent reason. This stage is probably a result of hormonal changes, the isolation new mothers often feel, residual discomfort or pain, and most certainly lack of sleep! But some women, up to 1 in 7, experience a much more serious mood disorder—postpartum depression (PPD).

Unlike the baby blues, PPD doesn’t go away on its own. It can appear any time, even months, after delivering a baby, and it can last for many weeks or months if left untreated. PPD can affect your ability to take care of your baby, or yourself, or both. And PPD can affect any woman, regardless of health, experience, marital status, income, age, race or ethnicity, culture or education.

What are the warning signs of PPD?

The top 10 signs of postpartum depression include:

  1. Change in appetite, either an increase or a decrease.
  2. Change in sleep, whether you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep, or you want to sleep all the time.
  3. Anxiety, agitation or irritability, including worrying constantly about your baby or being fearful of leaving the house or visiting public places.
  4. Decrease in energy, concentration, or ability to accomplish tasks. This can include having trouble getting up, out of bed, and going in the morning.
  5. Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed.
  6. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness, or worrying that you’re not a good parent.
  7. Inability to care for yourself or your baby.
  8. Complete lack of libido.
  9. Negative feelings towards or disinterest in your baby.
  10. Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.

If you have any thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, DO NOT WAIT! Contact your healthcare provider IMMEDIATELY!

If you experience one or more of the other signs and symptoms of postpartum depression for two weeks or more, it is time to seek additional help from your obstetrician, midwife, primary healthcare provider or a therapist or social worker

You may need counseling, medication or both. Don’t be embarrassed to seek help! You are not alone, and you are not the only one to have the feelings you’re experiencing.

The doctors at Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello care for our patients before, during and after pregnancy. Your health (including your mental health) is a priority for a happy mom and baby.  


Parenting pros: Finding time for yourself after the birth of a new baby

Family yogaBeing a new parent not only means experiencing new joys in your life, but it also adds a heaping pile of new responsibilities. While attempting to schedule appointments and playdates, maintaining responsibilities at work and keeping house and home in order, it can be extremely difficult to fit any time for yourself into an already-packed schedule. However, there are some simple ways to scoop up a few seconds for yourself and restore some serenity to your routine.

Seek out “child-friendly” facilities:

Some stores, gyms and other commercial enterprises offer kid-friendly rooms or babysitting services while their parents shop, workout or accomplish other necessities in a timely and efficient manner. Those few extra minutes of silence and privacy could really help you accomplish all you’re trying to do while still soaking up some personal time.

Most childcare places have a time limit, but just having the chance to absorb the additional ten to 30 minutes of peace can truly restart and refresh your day. Not to mention give you the chance to remember everything you had on your shopping list.

Treat yourself as well as you would treat others

Make sure to treat time you’ve blocked out for yourself like you would treat any other important commitment. Even if you’ve only allocated yourself ten minutes from your busy day, consider those minutes just as precious as if they’re the ten minutes you’ve scheduled for your baby’s doctor appointment, or the five minutes you’re taking to fill up your gas tank.

Just like others are deserving of your time and attention, you’re just as deserving of some valued alone time where you can choose to do whatever you wish and take pride in that decision without feeling guilty.

Read, Write and Listen

After hours of kid’s television, baby talk and nursery rhymes, keeping your brain from feeling like mush might feel like an impossible task. However, keeping a book on hand or an audiobook uploaded to your music player or burned to CDs keeps your mommy mind engaged and on edge while wandering through a stimulating crime fiction novel or best-selling biography.

Keeping a journal, blogging, tweeting or utilizing Pinterest boards and Facebook pages can be a creative and fulfilling way to chronicle your parenting experience while also interacting with other parents and sharing ideas and advice. Some parents also use social media as a way to chronicle their children’s lives, adventures and daily quirks and silliness in hopes that they’ll have a chance to share it with them later.

While posting information about your child on social media can be a difficult judgment call to make, there are ways to protect your online privacy and keep your memories within the family and safe from online strangers, usually made available under the website’s privacy settings.

Stick together

You’re not the first parent to struggle, and you certainly won’t be the last. Find another parent and work out a babysitting schedule so that you’re trading shifts throughout the month. Make a plan so that some nights you have time solely to yourself while your friend watches both children, and other nights you take them both while your friend has time alone to themselves.

Having another parent to talk with and rely on for help and advice can really make the whole parenting adventure less intimidating and, at points, more fun for both of you.

Though being a new parent can be incredibly stressful, there are simple ways to find small moments during the day for relaxation. Taking the time to take care of yourself is not only better for you, but it’s better for your relationship with your child as well. Your baby deserves a happy, healthy mom as much as you deserve time that’s all your own.

Our team of physicians at Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello MD are here to help you stay healthy before, during and after your pregnancy. Check back often for more parenting tips and women’s health tips in the patient education section of the WNY-OBGYN website.