Thursday, November 10, 2016

Did You Know? Maternal Depression And Coping

Did You Know? Maternal Depression And Coping

By Guest Blogger, Amanda M. Mitchell, Ph.D.

Pregnancy and the postpartum period can be filled with many emotions, reactions, and changes. Some people may be surprised to hear that 6.5% to 12.9% of women experience major or minor depression during pregnancy or the first year of postpartum (1). Depression can look like a collection of many different symptoms, including sadness, difficulty concentrating, guilt, and loss of interest in activities.

Depressive symptoms may be difficult to share or describe to other people, especially during pregnancy or postpartum. However, it is important that women with depression and their families are able to get the support and help they need. Studies from our lab have shown that depressive symptoms can negatively affect women’s health, including pregnancy outcomes such as birth weight (2,3). Other studies have found that depressive symptoms can negatively affect the transition into parenthood (4).

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression during pregnancy or postpartum, encourage them to reach out for professional support.

Other coping strategies to help with daily stress include:

  • Doing something you enjoy, such as hanging out with family and/or friends
  • Finding a relaxing activity (e.g., music, mindfulness)
  • Connecting with other women who are pregnant or recently had a baby
  • Seeking professional support to help with transitions during pregnancy and postpartum
  1. Gavin, N. I., Gaynes, B. N., Lohr, K. N., Meltzer-Brody, S., Gartlehner, G., & Swinson, T. (2005). Perinatal depression: a systematic review of prevalence and incidence. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 106, 1071-1083.
  2. Christian, L. M. (2014). Effects of stress and depression on inflammatory immune parameters in pregnancy. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 211, 275-277.
  3. Mitchell, A. M., & Christian, L. M. (under review). Pathways linking financial strain to birth weight: The roles of race, depressive symptoms, and pregnancy-specific distress.
  4. Paulson, J. F., Dauber, S., & Leiferman, J. A. (2006). Individual and combined effects of postpartum depression in mothers and fathers on parenting behavior. Pediatrics, 118, 659-668.

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Dr. Mitchell is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Stress and Health in Pregnancy lab ( housed in the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She received her doctorate in Counseling Psychology at the University of Louisville and completed an APA-accredited internship at the University of Utah Counseling Center. Her research examines links among cognitive and systemic coping strategies with neuroendocrine and immune functioning in the context of chronic stress.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Eliminating Mental Health Disparities

Eliminating Mental Health Disparities

by Guest Blogger, Alicia Brown, M.A.

Did you know that July is National Minority Mental Health Month? For minority individuals with mental health problems, their symptoms may go undiagnosed, under-diagnosed, or misdiagnosed due to cultural, linguistic, and/or historical factors.

When mental health problems are not diagnosed properly, appropriate treatment options may not be provided. This can result in prolonging the suffering of individuals who otherwise could have experienced a reduction in symptoms through treatment.

According to research by Smith and Trimble (2015), minority populations are significantly less likely than white European-Americans to use mental health services:

· African Americans: 21% less likely

· Hispanics/Latinos: 25% less likely

· Asian-Americans: 51% less likely

Every year, the National Network to Eliminate Disparities (NNED) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) partner to provide a series of webinars to celebrate the month. For more information, go to You can also check out the National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month Facebook page at

Want to learn more about behavioral health equity for specific minority populations? Check out this resource from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

Want to get even more involved? Check out these recommendations from the American Psychological Association (APA):

Reference: Smith, T. B., & Trimble, J. E. (2015). Foundations of Multicultural Psychology: Research to Inform Effective Practice. American Psychological Association (APA).


Alicia Brown is a psychology intern at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center where she is completing her APA accredited internship. She is getting her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Regent University.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Disaster Resources

Disaster Resources

Mass Shootings / Mass Violence

Fact Sheets and Resources

7 ways to talk to children and youth about the shootings in Orlando

Responding to the Tragedy in Orlando: Helpful Responses for LGBTQ People and Allies

Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting

Helping your child manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting

How to talk with children about difficult news and tragedies

How much news coverage is okay for children?

Building resilience to manage indirect exposure to terror

National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)

In response to the Orlando nightclub hate crime and act of terrorism, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network has developed resources to help families and communities respond:
Talking to Children about the Shooting
Psychological Impact of the Recent Shooting
Tip Sheet for Youth Talking to Journalists about the Shooting
Tips for Parents on Media Coverage
Parent Guidelines for Helping Youth after the Recent Shooting
After a Crisis: Helping Young Children Heal
Parents Tips for Helping Preschool-Aged Children after Disasters
Parents Tips for Helping School-Aged Children after Disasters
Guiding Adults in Talking to Children about Death and Attending Services
Restoring a Sense of Safety in the Aftermath of a Shooting: Tips for Parents and Professionals
Helping Youth after Community Trauma: Tips for Educators
Helping Teens with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers
Helping Young Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers
Helping School-Age Children with Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers
Sibling Death and Childhood Traumatic Grief: Information for Families
LGBTQ Issues and Child Trauma
LGBTQ Youth: Voices of Trauma, Lives of Promise (Video)
Safe Spaces. Safe Places for Traumatized LGBTQ Youth (Video)
LGBTQ Youth and Trauma: Information for Mental Health Professionals


Incidents of mass violence

Mainstream media – articles and videos

Orlando Nightclub Shooting

Here’s Why You Feel Actual Pain Over The Orlando Shooting
Research shows that following devastating news can take a major toll on mental health. But, in a way, you can’t help but follow along. Studies suggest the mind has a natural negativity bias, which compels you to pay closer attention to tragedies than uplifting news. (Huffington Post, June 13, 2016: Lindsay Holmes)

VA Deploys Mental Health Staff in Orlando After Mass Shooting
In a statement released Monday afternoon, the VA said its services would be available to veterans and department employees, as well as the general public "in the wake of the tragic mass shooting." (, June 13, 2016: Bryant Jordan)

UnitedHealthcare offers free mental health counseling to anyone, insured or not
UnitedHealth Group has opened their mental-health counseling help lines to anyone (literally anyone, you do not have to be insured by UnitedHealthcare) affected by Sunday morning’s events. (, June 13, 2016: Holly Kapherr)

The Orlando Shooting Could Have Long-Term Effects on LGBTQ Mental Health
The Orlando shooting may take an invisible toll on the mental health of LGBTQ people worldwide. What happened at Pulse was a clear act of hate-based violence, occurring in a historically safe space. (Yahoo! News / .Mic, June 13, 2016, Jordyn Taylor)

Orlando authorities could take mental health cues from Aurora tragedy
City officials have reached out to their counterparts in Florida to offer support. Some witnesses to the 2012 theater tragedy also have sought help processing the mass shooting that took place nearly 2,000 miles away, a reminder of how such incidents span both time and distance.

Could you be next? Coping with fear after the Orlando shootings
Will the shootings take an emotional toll on many who've been watching the tragedy and its fallout from afar? (CBS News, June 13, 2016: Mary Brophy Marcus)

Coping with Grief and Anxiety in the Wake of the Orlando Shooting
This article talks about the ways people were affected by the tragedy and offers suggestions on how to support those directly affected and how to look out for one’s own mental health. (Talkspace, June 14, 2016: Joseph Rauch)

Zika Virus

Fact Sheets and Resources

World Health Organization

Psychosocial support for pregnant women and for families with microcephaly and other neurological complications in the context of Zika virus: Interim guidance for health-care providers

This document from the World Health Organization describes guidance for a supportive response by healthcare providers (e.g. physicians, nurses), focusing primarily on women affected by Zika virus infection during pregnancy and their families, for their mental health and psychosocial needs. This is available as a free download at:

Assistant Secretary for Preparedness Response, Department of Health and Human Services

Promoting Stress Management for Pregnant Women during the Zika Virus Disease Outbreak: A guide for healthcare providers.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Fact Sheets and Posters in Different Languages
Fact sheets and posters are available in multiple languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Creole, and Korean. “Ideas for Talking to Your Children About Zika” is one of resources available.

Mainstream media

Zika-associated mental health burdens: is little knowledge a dangerous thing?
Today Infectious Diseases of Poverty has published an opinion piece on the recent Zika outbreak. Here, the co-author of the article explains more about how little knowledge of the virus could be dangerous to those living in areas at risk. (, April 20, 2016: Andrew Taylor-Robinson)

Fort McMurray Wildfire

Mainstream media

Fort McMurray youth feel guilty for taking town for granted before fires
Experts say parents should watch children for signs of trauma for several months. (CBC News, June 1, 2016: Marion Warnica)

Returning Fort McMurray residents face long road to recovery
Taking stock and establishing routines can help create feelings of normalcy, experts suggest. (CBC News, June 1, 2016: Amy Husser)

Texas Floods

Mainstream media

Red Cross mental health volunteers go to aid of Texas flooding victims
Red Cross Volunteer Talks About Texas Floods
Maui Red Cross Workers Deploy to Texas Flood Areas
Red Cross volunteers from Dayton head to flooded Texas
Additional Volunteers Assisting Texas Flood Victims


Books available for free download

Healthy, Resilient, and Sustainable Communities After Disasters: Strategies, Opportunities, and Planning for Recovery
In the devastation that follows a major disaster, there is a need for multiple sectors to unite and devote new resources to support the rebuilding of infrastructure, the provision of health and social services, the restoration of care delivery systems, and other critical recovery needs. In some cases, billions of dollars from public, private and charitable sources are invested to help communities recover. National rhetoric often characterizes these efforts as a "return to normal." But for many American communities, pre-disaster conditions are far from optimal. Large segments of the U.S. population suffer from preventable health problems, experience inequitable access to services, and rely on overburdened health systems. A return to pre-event conditions in such cases may be short-sighted given the high costs - both economic and social - of poor health. Instead, it is important to understand that the disaster recovery process offers a series of unique and valuable opportunities to improve on the status quo. Capitalizing on these opportunities can advance the long-term health, resilience, and sustainability of communities - thereby better preparing them for future challenges.

Free PDF:

Increasing National Resilience to Hazards and Disasters: The Perspective from the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi: Summary of a Workshop
Natural disasters are having an increasing effect on the lives of people in the United States and throughout the world. Every decade, property damage caused by natural disasters and hazards doubles or triples in the United States. More than half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coast, and all Americans are at risk from such hazards as fires, earthquakes, floods, and wind. The year 2010 saw 950 natural catastrophes around the world--the second highest annual total ever--with overall losses estimated at $130 billion. The increasing impact of natural disasters and hazards points to increasing importance of resilience, the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, or more successfully adapt to actual or potential adverse events, at the individual , local, state, national, and global levels.

Free PDF:

Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration

Natural disasters--including hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and floods--caused more than 220,000 deaths worldwide in the first half of 2010 and wreaked havoc on homes, buildings, and the environment. To withstand and recover from natural and human-caused disasters, it is essential that citizens and communities work together to anticipate threats, limit their effects, and rapidly restore functionality after a crisis. Free PDF:

Thank you to the APA Disaster Response Network for these resources

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Did You Know? Sleep Awareness Week

March 6th through the 12th is sleep awareness week?

The following tips can be implemented in your routine and may improve sleep quality.
  • Incorporate exercise into your life. Regular exercise can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. However, you want to avoid exercising within three hours of when you plan to fall asleep.
  • Maintain a consistent schedule. Try to wake up and go to bed around the same time each day (even on the weekends).
  • Avoid caffeine and foods/drinks with a lot of sugar close to bedtime as these substances can make falling asleep more difficult.
  • Avoid watching television in bed and do not read for an extended period of time in bed. You want to associate your bed with sleeping and not other activities.
  • Develop a bedtime routine such as taking a warm bath, engaging in relaxation or meditation activities, or listening to calming music. These activities can help your body get ready for sleep.
  • Make your bedroom a dark, quiet, cool place and make your bed as comfortable as possible. Consider putting up blinds or curtains if a lot of light gets in your room at night. 
  • Avoid exposure to bright light during the time right before you go to bed as light signals to your brain that it is time to be awake and not sleeping. You may also find fans or other sound machines to be helpful in reducing noise that is inconsistent with sleeping.
  • Avoid napping throughout the day and avoid large meals before bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol prior to bedtime as it can reduce the quality of your sleep.
There are several websites that provide additional information on sleep hygiene and improving the quality of your sleep. Some helpful websites are listed below. Also, remember you can consult with your doctor if you have concerns about your sleep.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Did You Know? Broken Heart Syndrome

Broken Heart Syndrome
by Guest Blogger LaKisha L. Sharp, M.S., M.A.

Did you know February is American Heart Month?

Medical research has confirmed a strong relationship between one’s emotional and physical functioning. Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy, commonly known as “Broken Heart Syndrome” is a stress-induced cardiac disorder which mimics a heart attack. Physiologically, the condition manifests when normal heart arteries are attached to an abnormally enlarged blood-pumping chamber (Maldonado, Pajouhi, & Witteles, 2013). The name of the syndrome tako-tsubo is derived from Japanese language because the cardiovascular abnormality is said to resemble the shape of a fishing pot used to catch octopus in Japan (Maldonado et al., 2013).

The exact cause of Broken Heart Syndrome is unknown however major life stressors such as death, divorce, and sudden changes in one’s financial status (e.g. loss of fortune, winning the lottery) are positively correlated with the development of said medical condition. Similarly, over 65% of persons diagnosed with Broken Heart Syndrome also have a pre-existing diagnosis of anxiety or depression (Maldonado et al., 2013). A family history of mood disorders (e.g. depression and/or anxiety) and social isolation are hypothesized to be predisposing risk factors (Maldonado et al., 2013). Interestingly, postmenopausal women, aged 68 years or older are disproportionately diagnosed with Broken Heart Syndrome compared to men (Derrick, 2009).

The primary signs and symptoms of Broken Heart Syndrome include:
  • Chest pain (Angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat (Arrhythmia)
  • Cardiogenic shock (Diminished blood-pumping/circulation)
The American Heart Association and Cardiomyopathy UK are both helpful, quick reference websites which contain additional information about Broken Heart Syndrome, the management of stress, and treatment options.


Derrick, D. (2009). The “broken heart syndrome”: understanding Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Critical Care Nurse, 29(1), 49-57.

Maldonado, J. R., Pajouhi, P., & Witteles, R. (2013). Case Reports Broken Heart Syndrome (Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy) Triggered by Acute Mania: A Review and Case Report. Psychosomatics, 54(1), 74-79.

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LaKisha L. Sharp is a fourth year doctoral student in clinical and forensic psychology at Fielding Graduate University. She previously completed Masters Degrees in criminal justice at Tiffin University and clinical psychology at Fielding Graduate University, respectively. For over 12 years, LaKisha has been employed as a forensic probation officer supervising a caseload of adult, severely mentally ill, felony offenders sentenced to a term of community control supervision as part of Cuyahoga County’s Common Pleas Court Mental Health Docket. LaKisha was recently appointed as faculty to the Ohio Supreme Court’s Judicial College to teach cognitive behavioral therapy to all newly hired probation and parole officers in the state.