How To Declutter Every Room In Your House To Reduce Anxiety And Stress

Declutter Your Life is a month-long initiative to help you manage stress and boost your health by learning the principles of banishing clutter and restoring a sense of order to your world.

Bills and junk mail are piling up on your kitchen counter, dirty clothes are spilling out of the hamper onto your bedroom floor, and let’s not even talk about the state of your spare room right now. At some point or another, this has likely been your home. (If not, kudos.) And even if you don’t realize it, the disarray can mess with your mental health.

“If our home, car, and office space feel hunky and disorganized, we tend to feel overwhelmed as if we don’t even know where to start,” says Sherry Benton, PhD, a psychologist who serves as founder and chief science officer of TAO Connect. “Every task, from eating breakfast to driving to work can feel complicated by the mess we are contending with.” The opposite is true, too: “When our space feels put together and tranquil, we feel more tranquil,” she says.

Research backs this up. A 2009 study in The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that women who described their homes as cluttered and stressful were more depressed than those who described them as restorative spaces. This isn’t surprising, considering plenty of studies have linked a tidier home to healthier habits—like exercising and making smart snack choices—which can really pay off for your overall health and outlook.

The problem, Benton points out, is that the relationship between your mind and your living space is often circular. “When someone is anxious, depressed, or has some sort of ADD, it can be difficult to focus on organizing one’s space.” In fact, hoarding is often a symptom of mental illness, such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (Are you depressed or just bummed out? Take this quiz to find out.)

10 silent signals you’re way too stressed out:

But for the average person, how much mess is mood-wrecking? That all depends on your personal comfort level. “Many people have areas they really want to have organized and other areas where this is less of a concern,” says Benton. “For example, I really like having my spice rack in alphabetical order, which drove my husband nuts for years. I rarely even think about organization (or lack thereof) in the garage, but he’s very particular about it.”

Take note of the clutter zones that heighten your stress or hinder your daily routine, brush up on these five no-fail decluttering strategies from a professional organizer, and schedule some time to start tidying. We know the task seems daunting, so we found inspiring transformations of six spots throughout the house that will show you exactly what to do.

Man who died in train tragedy was tormented by prospect of lifelong battle with severe anxiety

A tortured apprentice engineer who killed himself in front of a train was tormented by the prospect of a lifelong battle with his illness.

Nicholas Afzal, 20, from Bramhall, had a ‘bright future’ ahead of him. But he had been diagnosed with severe anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder as a young teen, a coroner’s inquest was told, and ‘didn’t want to take medication for the rest of his life’.

Over the years Nicholas had battled his condition with various methods including cognitive behavioural therapy, visits to a psychiatrist, mindfulness techniques and medication.

But after ‘losing hope’ he died of multiple injuries at Bramhall train station on July 25 last year.

He had been keen to come off medication and wanted to manage his condition using solely therapy but father Mohamed Afzal told South Manchester Coroner’s Court that by June 2017 his son was ‘losing hope’ and the family decided more help was needed.

As a result, Nicholas had two appointments at the private Priory clinic, in Altrincham, where he was given three types of medication to take – sertraline, citalopram and pregabilin.

The court heard all were prescribed at initially low doses but seen as vital in order to get Nicholas to a stage where measures such as cognitive behavioural therapy would work. It then took his family three weeks to persuade him to start taking this medication, which he eventually did two days before his death.

Mr Afzal told the inquest: “There was a sense of despair, the word he used was torment. I think he just wanted some peace.

“He had a low mood and was quieter that weekend. He was in constant fear of a relapse, that seemed to be the drive.

“He didn’t want to take medication for the rest of his life. I think it was because he had been taking it from about 13 or 14. After six years I think he had lost hope that there would be a life without medication.

“There was always a possibility (of suicide) but as a parent it is a little difficult to accept that could happen. We would have hoped he would come to us.”

Stockport Coroner’s Court

It was said that Nicholas had previously talked about suicidal thoughts but not of any plans to take action.

Following a breakdown in October 2016 he had gone to Wilmslow train station, where he spent 30 minutes sat on the platform before leaving again. He later told a therapist of the incident but said he ‘didn’t want to do it again’.

Doctor Jaya Gowrisunkur, from the Priory, said: “The challenge with Nicholas was getting him to take any medication, he was very clear he did not like it.

“For therapy to work you have to initially address and reduce the symptoms through medication.”

In recording a conclusion of suicide, South Manchester Senior Coroner Alison Mutch said: “Nicholas Afzal was a young man blessed with a supportive and loving family. They tried to support him with the anxiety that afflicted him so much through his life.

“He had a bright future ahead of him, he was well-regarded by his employers who were sympathetic and supportive to him. Nicholas felt it was the time for him and did not wish to go on anymore.”

Helplines and websites

Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at .

Childline (0800 1111 ) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.

PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.

Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information.

Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts. Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.

The Sanctuary (0300 003 7029 ) helps people who are struggling to cope – experiencing depression, anxiety, panic attacks or in crisis. You can call them between 8pm and 6am every night.

Got a story or an issue you want us to investigate? Want to tell us about something going on where you live? Let us know – in complete confidence – by emailing, calling us on 0161 211 2323, tweeting us @MENnewsdesk or messaging us on our Facebook page . You can also send us a story tip using the form here .

ADHD affects adults too

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not limited to children — 30% to 70% of kids with ADHD continue having symptoms when they grow up. In addition, people who were never diagnosed as kids may develop more obvious symptoms in adulthood, causing trouble on the job or in relationships.


Signs of adult ADHD include the following which people often overlook identifying the disease. Keeping a close eye may help to some extent.

Running late: Adults with ADHD may be chronically late for work or important events. Adults may realise that their tardiness is undermining their goals, but they just cannot seem to be on time.

Risky driving: One of the hallmarks of ADHD is difficulty keeping your mind on the task at hand. That spells trouble for teens and adults when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle. Studies show that people with ADHD are more likely to speed and have accidents.

Distraction: Adults with ADHD may have trouble prioritising, starting and finishing tasks. They tend to be disorganised, restless, and easily distracted. Some people with ADHD have trouble concentrating while reading.

Outbursts: Adults with ADHD may have problems with self-control. This can lead to difficulty controlling anger, impulsive behaviours and blurting out rude or insulting thoughts.

Hyperfocus: Some adults with ADHD can focus intently on things they enjoy or find interesting — the ability to hyperfocus. But they struggle to pay attention to tasks that bore them. People with ADHD tend to put off boring tasks in favor of more enjoyable activities.

What causes ADHD?

In people with ADHD, brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are less active in areas of the brain that control attention. Researchers do not know exactly what causes this chemical imbalance, but they think genes may play a role, because ADHD often runs in families. Studies have also linked ADHD to prenatal exposure to cigarettes and alcohol.

Diagnosing ADHD in adults

Many adults do not learn that they have ADHD until they get help for another problem, such as anxiety or depression. Discussing poor habits, troubles at work, or marital conflicts often reveals that ADHD is at fault. To confirm the diagnosis, the disorder must have been present during childhood, even if it was never diagnosed. Old report cards or talking with relatives can document childhood problems, such as poor focus and hyperactivity.

Complications of adult ADHD

Coping with the symptoms of adult ADHD can be frustrating in itself. At the same time, many adults with ADHD struggle with depression, anxiety, or obsessive compulsive disorder. They are also more likely to smoke or abuse drugs. People with ADHD can limit these problems by seeking proper treatment.

Medications for ADHD

The most common medicines for ADHD are stimulants. It may seem ironic that people who are restless or hyperactive get help from stimulants. These drugs may sharpen concentration and curb distractibility by fine-tuning brain circuits that affect attention.

Counselling for ADHD

Most adults with ADHD improve when they start medication, but they may continue to struggle with poor habits and low self-esteem. Counselling for ADHD focuses on getting organised, setting helpful routines, repairing relationships and improving social skills. There is evidence that cognitive-behavioural therapy is particularly helpful in managing problems of daily life that are associated with ADHD.

Diet tips for adults with ADHD

Some experts believe foods that provide quality brain fuel could reduce symptoms of ADHD. High-protein foods, including nuts, meat, beans, and eggs, may improve concentration. Replacing simple carbs with complex carbs, like whole-grain pasta or brown rice, can help ward off mood swings and stabilise energy levels.

Outlook for adults with ADHD

Adults with ADHD do not outgrow the condition, but many learn to manage it successfully. Long-term treatment can reduce problems at home and at work, bringing patients closer to their families and their professional goals.


Source: WebMD

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Market to Witness Growth …

This press release was orginally distributed by SBWire

Albany, NY — (SBWIRE) — 01/26/2018 — Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may be defined as an anxiety disorder that is characterized by unreasonable and uncontrollable thoughts and fears that lead an individual to perform repetitive behaviors. Obsessive-compulsive disorder compels a person to get stuck on a particular thought or fear. For example, a person afraid of contamination may wash his/her hands repetitively in an order to make sure his/her hands are clean. Likewise, a person may check a gas stove multiple times to be sure that it’s really turned off. Usually people affected with obsessive-compulsive disorder possess both obsessions as well as compulsions; however, in many cases individuals may have either obsessions or compulsions.

The treatment involves psychotherapy as well as medication. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a specific type of psychotherapy that has been useful in treating people with OCD. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) teaches a person multiple ways of thinking, reacting and handling a particular situation. Most commonly used medications for treating OCD include antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. A child suffering from PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections) is prescribed antibiotics for treating strep infections and SSRI medicines (citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, sertraline and paroxetine).

The Market For Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is expected to grow globally under the influence of high prevalence of OCD and life style changes causing changes in thinking processes. According to International OCD Foundation, approximately 2-3 million adults are living with OCD in the United States. The International OCD Foundation also states that nearly 500,000 American children have OCD. A large number of cases of OCD go unreported as many people are not aware that there is any such specific disease. Also, many people hide their illness in order to avoid embarrassment.

Request to View Brochure of Report –

Geographically, the market for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has been segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World (RoW). North America was the largest regional market in 2013, followed by Europe, Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World (RoW). One of the major factors responsible for North America’s leading position in this particular market is well established health coverage in the region and high level of awareness regarding the illness. In Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World (RoW) regions, the market is expected to grow in coming future owing rise in prevalence of people with OCD and increasing wareness regarding the disease. Japan, China, India, Australia and New Zealand are the most potential markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

Some major companies and research institutions that are extensively engaged in the development, manufacturing and marketing of OCD drugs include Abbott Laboratories, Pfizer Ltd., Merck Co., Sanofi, Novartis AG, University of South Florida, Ortho-McNeil Janssen Scientific Affairs, LLC and Indiana University.

Pre-Book Full Report –

For more information on this press release visit:

Resources for Healthcare Providers Treating Intrusive Thoughts


Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts: Breaking the Cycle of Unwanted Thoughts in Motherhood

What if I’m having scary thoughts?

Beyond the Blues: Postpartum OCD

*Disclaimer: Many of the articles listed below with Obsessive-Compulsive in the title also mention or review the nature of intrusive thoughts that are subclinical and not related to an OCD diagnosis. Red notations are ours to highlight relevance for specific providers. Some are available online as pdfs. If you are unable to find them, you can try finding access to an academic database through your local university library.

Risk of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Pregnant and Postpartum Women: A meta-analysis.
Russell, E.J. Fawcell, J.M. Mazmanian, D.
(2013) Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 74(4): 377-385.

Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Speisman, Storch, Abramowitz.
Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic Neonatal Nursing. 2011 Nov-Dec;40(6):680-90

Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms in Pregnancy and the Puerperium: A Review of the Literature
Abramowitz JS, Schwartz SA, Moore KM, Luenzmann KR.
Journal of Anxiety Disorders. 2003;17(4):461-78.

New Parenthood as a Risk Factor for the Development of Obsessional Problems
Fairbrother, Abramowitz,
Behaviour Research and Therapy 45 (2007) 2155–2163

Postpartum Obsessive‐Compulsive Disorder
Speisman, Brittany B. et al.
Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic Neonatal Nursing , Vol 40, Issue 6, 680 – 690

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in the Postpartum Period: Diagnosis, Differential Diagnosis and Management.
Sharma V, Sommerdyk C.,
Womens Health (Lond). 2015 Jul;11(4):543-52

The Impact of Perinatal Depression on the Evolution of Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive symptoms.
Miller ES, Hoxha D, Wisner KL, Gossett DR.
Archives of Womens Mental Health. 2015 Jun;18(3):457-61.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Postpartum Obsessions and Compulsions that Involve Infant Harm.
Hudak R, Wisner KL.
American Journal of Psychiatry. 2012 Apr;169(4):360-3.

New mothers’ thoughts of harm related to the newborn.
Fairbrother N, Woody SR.
Archives of Womens Mental Health. 2008 Jul;11(3):221-9.

Obsessions and Compulsions in Postpartum Women Without Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Miller ES, Hoxha D, Wisner KL, Gossett DR.
Journal of Womens Health (Larchmt). 2015 Oct;24(10):825-30

Obsessions and Compulsions in Women with Postpartum Depression.
Wisner KL, Peindl KS, Gigliotti T, Hanusa BH.
Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 1999 Mar;60(3):176-80.

Detection of Postpartum Depressive Symptoms by Screening at Well-Child Visits.
Chaudron LH, Szilagyi PG, Kitzman HJ, Wadkins HI, Conwell Y.
Pediatrics. 2004 Mar;113(3 Pt 1):551-8.

Postpartum Depression: What Pediatricians Need to Know.
Chaudron LH.
Pediatric Review. 2003 May;24(5):154-61.

Detection, Treatment, and Referral of Perinatal Depression and Anxiety by Obstetrical Providers.
Goodman JH, Tyer-Viola L.
Journal of Womens Health (Larchmt). 2010 Mar;19(3):477-90


7 Signs You May Have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, Not To Be Confused With OCD

I avoid walking to cafes 10 minutes away because I’m scared that’s too much time out of my workday. I’m afraid to spend money on basic necessities. I’m obsessive about food. I haven’t received any psychological diagnosis regarding these things, but when I read descriptions of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), I think, “holy crap, that’s me!”  

“If you feel that you are a perfect person in an imperfect world, you probably have OCPD,” Laurie Endicott Thomas, MA, ELS, author of Don’t Feed the Narcissists! The Mythology and Science of Mental Health, tells Bustle. “Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) is not the same thing as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Both conditions are based on some sort of underlying fear. However, OCD is classified as an anxiety disorder, whereas OCPD is classified as a personality disorder. People with OCD typically realize that they have a mental disorder, whereas people with OCPD typically do not.” It’s not known, Thomas adds, whether OCPD is primarily genetic or a combination of learned behaviors.

Whether or not I actually have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, I do know I have an obsessive-compulsive personality. And that can be a useful framework to think about things, especially in the interest of noticing when my hard work and organization have crossed the line into neurosis.

Here are some signs, according to experts, that you might have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, or at least an obsessive compulsive personality.

1You Follow Self-Imposed Rules Even When It Makes No Sense

Ashley Batz/Bustle

People may follow certain rules in order to get things done, but people with OCPD have rules they follow even when it makes no sense, says Thomas. They may start to feel restricted by their own self-imposed rules, but they can’t get out.

2You’ve Struggled With Disordered Eating

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

There’s a large overlap between OCPD and eating disorders, says Thomas. People with it “can have extraordinary self-control and a remarkable ability to delay gratification,” she says. Someone with OCPD may have the same mentality toward work and money, for example, that an anorexic does toward food: Deprive yourself of your desires to achieve a goal, then when you reach it, set an even higher goal.

3Your Mind Sucks The Fun Out Of Every Activity

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

If you plan a trip to your favorite city but get so obsessed with budgeting and scheduling that you don’t look forward to it (*raises hand*), that’s a classic OCPD behavior. People with OCPD can suck the joy right out of everything through excessive attention to logistics, Camille Drachman, MSW, LCSW, SEP, clinical director for Sierra Tucson, tells Bustle.

4You’re So Perfectionistic, You Can’t Get Anything Done

Hannah Burton/Bustle

This is another example of people with OCPD following rules even when it’s counterproductive. They may try their best to perfect their work in the interest of being star employees, but then they miss deadlines, harming their work. People with OCPD are often perfectionists to the point that they can’t complete a task, says Drachman.

5You Can’t See Other People’s Perspectives

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

People with OCPD can be as rigid in their views as they are in their habits, often looking down on people who don’t agree with them, says Drachman. They may find themselves getting into a lot of arguments where they and the other person are just talking past each other.

6You Hoard Possessions Or Money


Many people with OCPD engage in compulsive saving, skimping on necessities even when they have more money than they know what to do with, says Drachman. They also may hoard objects. These hoarding behaviors are often done “just in case” they need something.

7Everything Has To Be Done Your Way

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

People with OCPD tend to have trouble delegating tasks because they need things done their way, says Drachman. More generally, they tend to be very stubborn and unwilling to accommodate others’ preferences.

If you (like me) are thinking “that sounds like me!”, you’re not alone — around 7.8 percent of people have OCPD, according to a study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. Treatments for OCPD are the usual: therapy, and sometimes, medication. The good news is, the prognosis is better than most personality disorders, so the chances of improvement after getting treatment are high.

You’re obsessed and compulsive…

PETALING JAYA: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has become associated with fussiness or being a stickler, but it doesn’t mean that if you do have such characteristics, you are obsessive-compulsive.

Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said many individuals have some innate obsessions and compulsions, which are all part of their character.

“Sometimes, these traits can help us succeed as meticulous accountants or good report writers and thorough planners. It does not mean we have OCD,” he said.

He said OCD can also involve other obsessive behaviours and not just preoccupation with contamination or counting, as portrayed in the media.

“The obsessions in OCD can also involve hoarding, saving, meticulous accounting, swearing and arranging things to comply with a certain pattern or symmetry,” he said.

He explained that for one to be diagnosed as having OCD, the condition must be debilitating to the point of causing social and occupational dysfunction and personal distress.

“A diagnosis of OCD is only made if the obsessions and compulsions cause marked distress and are time consuming and significantly interfere with one’s social and occupational functioning,” he said, adding that the distress can be severe to the point that it could ruin personal relationships and lead to suicide.

“In short, simply because you keep checking if you have turned off your gas stove or if you have locked all your doors before you go to sleep does not mean you have OCD,” he stressed.

He added that it is possible for one to have mild symptoms of OCD that do not cause undue impairment in social and occupational functioning.

“However, this can worsen and become more severe when there is additional stress, like from a traumatic life event.

“A significant life event like death in the family or a break-up with a partner can also activate OCD in those who have a predisposition to the disorder,” he shared.

He added that, to a certain extent, the compulsive behaviour could be the manifestation of a desire for control after experiencing helplessness in situations which were beyond their control in the past.

Dr Andrew said there are differences between obsessions and compulsions, in which the former refer to uncontrollable recurring thoughts and impulses while the latter refer to patterns of repetitive behaviour.

“OCD is an anxiety disorder where one has obsessions (thoughts) which result in compulsions (behaviour) that are carried out to reduce anxiety if these compulsions are resisted,” he said.

Although there is a wide spectrum of what a person’s obsessions and compulsions could be, Dr Andrew said there are a few common symptoms.

“A common symptom of obsession would be the irrational worry or fear of dirt, germs or contamination.

“Another common presentation is uncontrollable thoughts of having things arranged orderly or symmetrically to overcome the nagging feeling of things not being in an exact place or order,” he said.

He added that other lesser known obsessive symptoms could include unwanted sexual or blasphemous thoughts or even preoccupation with throwing away objects that are perceived to be useless.

According to Dr Andrew, common symptoms of compulsion are usually the behaviour resulting from these obsessions, including excessive cleaning or handwashing, arranging things in a precise way or repeated counting and checking, or even hoarding things.

He said people with OCD may recognise that their thoughts and behaviours are excessive, but may not necessarily be able to control them.

“They do not get pleasure from their repetitive behaviour, but they do experience relief from them, or more precisely, a reduction in their anxiety levels.

“Unfortunately, the relief felt will only reinforce the belief that compulsive behaviours are necessary to curb unwanted obsessive thoughts,” he said.

What causes the disorder is not immediately clear, though Dr Andrew said one’s genetic make-up and environmental factors contribute to its development.

“Genetics do play a part as evidenced by the fact that a person with OCD is more likely to have a family member with the same condition.

“On the other hand, it is also possible that some can ‘learn’ OCD as a result of modelling after other family members who have OCD.

However, Dr Andrew said OCD is a common disorder that affects people across the board, with the World Health Organisation listing OCD as one of the top 10 leading causes of disability in the working-age group.

“We do not have absolute statistics for OCD in Malaysia, but it is safe to say that the prevalence of OCD is 1-2% of the population, cutting across all ethnic groups and affecting both males and females,” he said, though he added that it is very rare that OCD occurs in children.

He said most people are diagnosed by about age 19, typically with an earlier age of onset in boys than in girls.

“The onset of the disorder is usually gradual, but it can be sudden too, especially after a stressful life event like pregnancy, death of a spouse or loss of livelihood,” he said, adding that onset after age 35 does happen as well.

Dr Andrew stressed that people with OCD should not lose hope, as recovery is possible if the disorder is treated appropriately,

“The two main modalities of treatment are pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy, and they complement each other.

“Pharmacotherapy involves using antidepressant medications like the newer selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which increase the levels of serotonin in the brain,” he said, adding that patients with OCD tend to have lower levels of serotonin.

“Psychotherapy can also be effective for patients with OCD. Certain types of psychotherapy, including cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), can be as effective as medication for many individuals,” he said.




Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona teams up with American Well for …

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) is partnering with Boston-based American Well to offer new Telehealth options to its members. 

“Getting medical attention isn’t always easy to do if you are juggling work and family responsibilities,” Mike Tilton, vice president of sales BCBSAZ, said in a statement. “BlueCare Anywhere helps by giving BCBSAZ members the flexibility to contact a physician at any time. They have a direct line to services day or night.”

The BlueCare Anywhere program aims to connect patients with affordable and convenient services from their phones or mobile devices. The program will be focused on three areas of care: medical, counseling, and psychiatry, according to a statement. 

The company said that the medical subsection will cover common ailments like allergies, bronchitis, strep throat, and urinary tract infections. Obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks, anxiety, PTSD, depression, and bereavement can be treated by the telehealth counciling services. Psychiatry services will be able to see patients with eating disorders, anxiety, OCD, PTDS, bipolar disorder, depression, and panic attacks.  

BCBSAZ covers 1.5 million customers. The new teleheath option is now available to employers. 

Multiple Blue Cross Blue Shield providers across the country have begun to offer Telehealth options. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, for example, began to cover some video visits via Doctor on Demand in 2015. UnitedHealthcare has also jumped on board the telehealth wagon, and made deals with Doctor on Demand and American Well’s AmWell. 

American Well recently made headlines after receiving $59.2 million of funding from insurer and asset manager Allianz Group’s digital investment unit, Allianz X. The pair plan to develop a product together. 

Last year the company also announced its plans to fully integrate with Samsung Health to increase accessibility. 

‘My Biggest Fear Is What Pregnancy Will Do To My Mental Health’

New research has found that 1 in 4 women suffer from a mental health problem during pregnancy, these twentysomethings tell The Debrief how theirs has influenced how they feel about, one day, becoming a mother

Ellie would like to have children, one day. She’s not there yet but it’s certainly not something she has ruled out. However, already, there is a potential problem on her horizon which becomes more visible with every year that passes.

When we talk about pregnant women the words ‘glowing’, ‘blooming’ and ‘beautiful’ are rolled out. There is a certain amount of pressure to look and behave a certain way when you’re pregnant and, for young women suffering with mental health problems, this can be isolating because they don’t see themselves reflected in mainstream conversations about and images of pregnancy.

‘I suffered with depression for about a year’ she explains ‘and then started slipping back into it 2 years later when I started taking the pill. I stay away from anything that affects hormones because I’m predisposed towards depression and anything like the pill seems to tip the scales for me’.

Because of this, Ellie worries about the effects pregnancy might have on her mental health. ‘My mother suffered from AWFUL post-natal depression’ she says ‘coupled with that, I’m basically certain that pregnancy would send me into a depressive tailspin and terrified of getting pregnant because of it’. This doesn’t mean that she has ruled out the prospect of having a family and, as she puts it, she can’t hear her biological clock ‘ticking yet’ but it’s definitely a matter of ‘crossing that bridge’ when she comes to it and taking a view on what might happen.

The preemptive worry that Ellie already has whirring around in her brain is, by all accounts, not without cause. Earlier this month, a report published in the British Journal of Psychiatry by experts at King’s College London (KCL) found that 1 in 4 pregnant women have mental health problems. This was, they said, ‘more common than previously thought’.

The term ‘post-natal depression’ is widely recognised but the idea that you might suffer with depression during pregnancy (antepartum depression) or, indeed, another mental health problem is far less talked of. Indeed, the KCL research was the first UK-based study of its kind to investigate the prevalence of mental health problems or mental disorders amongst women who are seen by a midwife for pregnancy care. They found that women, when asked what they call ‘gold standard’ questions, experienced a range of different mental illnesses at the same time as pregnancy. 1 in 4 overall had a mental illness; 11% had depression, 15% had anxiety, 2% reported eating disorders and 2% reported obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Louise Howard, Professor of Women’s Mental Health at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, authored the report. She said that its findings demonstrated the need for pregnant women to be asked the right questions by ‘a non-judgmental and supportive health professional’ both ‘in pregnancy and after birth’.

Support during and after pregnancy is crucial. However, there are young women out there like Ellie who aren’t yet pregnant, and so not in contact with a midwife or medical professional, who have serious concerns about what a pregnancy would mean for them.

Ruchira is 23, she too is worried and is unsure where she could go for advice. ‘I have really anxious thoughts about pregnancy to be honest’ she tells The Debrief. ‘I had an eating disorder when I was 14 and luckily have recovered without relapse with help from the NHS and CAMHS. But at 18, when I went to uni I started to really struggle…I became really really depressed. I struggled to get any medical help and relied on uni counselling. After that, my anxiety became very difficult to manage and I now realise it was panic disorder and social anxiety’. All of this has left Ruchira wondering about whether a pregnancy would be manageable for her.

She explains that her most recent episode of anxiety ‘stemmed from not knowing what was happening to [her] body and a lack of control (also a common trigger for eating disorders’. As a result of this, Ruchira thinks she would ‘really really struggle’ to go through a pregnancy even though she would like to, one day.

READ MORE: The Debrief Investigates – Hormonal Contraception And Mental Health

The weight of not knowing how your body and mind would react to pregnancy can loom large for young women. The emotions that are involved are complex: guilt, fear, hope and sadness, Ruchira says she doesn’t think there is enough preemptive support or information available to help navigate all of this particularly if, like her, an eating disorder is involved.

‘One thing that people don’t talk about’ she says ‘is that post eating disorder, there are various things that can “pull you back” – even momentarily – into an unhealthy mindset.’ How would she describe these? ‘If my jeans don’t fit, for example or if I feel bloated on holiday…I’ve notices this in myself and I absolutely hate the power [the eating disorder] still can have.’ Is this why she worries about pregnancy? In part, yes. ‘The thought of being pregnant often terrifies me because I have no idea how to just accept the things that can be so toxic to me, even when I’m in a more positive place. I have considered not having children because I know that if I did decide to go ahead, I know that I would need support to make sure I didn’t go backwards.’

The experience of Lucy, 31, suggests that support isn’t always readily available and that the best practice recommended by Professor Howard doesn’t always happen. Lucy is pregnant and due to give birth imminently. In 2012 she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder. In 2015 she was reassessed by a psychiatrist who said she had ‘elements of bipolar’ which, if she lived in the US, ‘would be diagnosed as Bipolar type 2’. This didn’t affect her decision to have a baby, she has worked hard to manage her mental health and, with the help of a supportive partner, felt able to go through a pregnancy.

However, Lucy says that when she tried to discuss some concerns she was having about her mental health, she was not listened to. ‘I tried to speak to my midwife about pregnancy anxiety but she brushed it off. I thought that was pretty flippant since it states my diagnosis and the fact that I’ve come off my medication for this pregnancy in my notes’. Lucy adds, ‘I think the NHS is so strained, that unless you press the issue or it’s visibly really bad they just miss things. Saying that, I know when I am feeling really low and I know when I need help and I’m not ashamed to ask for it, so I have every confidence that I could now go into my GP and insist on it being taken seriously if I needed to. But, this is from years of dealing with having mental health issues, someone who isn’t as sure of their mental health might slip through the gaps’.

One of the people who responded to Professor Howard’s research was Maria Bavetta, the co-founder of Maternal OCD, a support group for mothers and pregnant women who suffer from the condition. She said that she wished she had ‘been given the opportunity to share [her] thoughts [during pregnancy] in a way that would have helped [her] to access specialist maternal mental health services quicker’. As she sees it, it is our duty to both ask pregnant women the right questions and to provide women with ‘a non-judgemental space’ in which they will be listened to. As Lucy says, if that doesn’t happen then women who need support will fall through the net.

Equally, there should also be support for women who decide that they do not want to have children because they have concerns about the emotional and physical impacts of a pregnancy. Tessa, who is in her early 30s, told The Debrief, that she is in the process of trying to be sterilized. ‘I have BPD and anxiety’ she explains ‘and my biggest fear for a long time has been what pregnancy would do to my emotional state. I can’t put myself through it.’

What the experiences of young women, who are not yet pregnant or planning to be any time soon, tell us is that we also need support for women with mental health problems who might one day want to have children. They need to know that they can have honest and open conversations with medical professionals about what a pregnancy might mean for them so that they can make informed choices and have a support system in place before pregnancy.

‘I have never spoken to any doctor or nurse about any of this, ever’ says Ruchira, ‘I really don’t think enough, if anything, is ever shared about the mental burden of pregnancy.’ One of the only places she has found support and solace in an honest discussion about these issues is on Youtube; ‘I watched a Youtuber I love, Samantha Maria, share that as someone who suffered with an ED she struggled with pregnancy and depression’ Ruchira explains ‘it blew my mind because she mirrored everything I’d wanted someone to say happened and wasn’t something that never happened to anyone’.

It’s fair to say that our ideas about how pregnant women should feel, look and think are still fairly retrograde – it’s all serenity, gratitude and contentment. Perhaps, if there are more narratives about motherhood and, in particular, ones that allow for it to be portrayed as complex and, sometimes, difficult then the experiences of more women will be represented. We know that one in four young women in the UK report experiencing mental health problems when not pregnant, so it can’t be any surprise that a number of young women out there are contemplating how a pregnancy would affect them as they think about their futures.

Professor Howard’s research has identified the need to support women with mental health problems during pregnancy but it’s clear that we need support for women pre-pregnancy too. No woman who wants to be a mother should fear that she can’t be because she is worried that she won’t be supported when it comes to her mental health and, equally, no woman who decides not to have children because she fears for her mental health should be judged for doing so.

*some names have been changed

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