maternal depression

How to Best Cope with Maternal Depression

Maternal depression symptoms can impact the well-being of both women and their families. Research shows that maternal depression affects about one in nine women during pregnancy and up to one year after childbirth. This type of depression has a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Crying
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability

Maternal depression can affect women of all ages and ethnicities. One’s unique biology, hormonal changes, stress, and other factors may make some more susceptible to maternal depression than others.

There are four types of maternal depression:

  1. Prenatal: Occurs during pregnancy, causing emotional highs and lows that interfere with a woman’s ability to function.
  2. Baby Blues: Often start in the first few days after childbirth, and may be present for up to two weeks following delivery.
  3. Postpartum: Refers to baby blues that extend beyond two weeks of childbirth, and persist for up to three months after delivery.
  4. Postpartum Psychosis: Begins within two to four weeks after childbirth, with symptoms including hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, and other forms of psychosis.

Maternal depression may affect both a woman and her child’s behaviors. In a study of 875 mothers in Chile over a 16-year period, researchers found that half of the study participants were depressed, and one-third were severely depressed. Researchers discovered that children of severely depressed mothers had a lower average verbal IQ score than children without depressed mothers. They also stated that children of severely depressed mothers had a small vocabulary and poor comprehension skills in comparison to children of mothers without depression.

How to Treat Maternal Depression

Maternal depression treatment can benefit both a woman and her child. For example, a study of 80 depressed mothers and their children was used to evaluate the impact of different maternal depression treatment options on both mothers and their children. All of the mothers in the study had been previously diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, but had no history of Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia. Comparatively, approximately one-third of the children in the study had a psychiatric disorder. Study researchers noted that finding the right maternal depression treatment is critical for both a woman and her child, but doing so often requires trial and error. They also indicated that the right maternal depression treatment helps reduce a woman’s depression symptoms and behavioral issues, and frequently helps her child do the same.

There are many options to treat maternal depression, including medications and psychotherapy. Antidepressant medications may help women manage their maternal depression symptoms, and research indicates that certain antidepressants have not been shown to adversely impact breastfeeding infants. Meanwhile, psychotherapy can help a woman explore the thoughts and feelings associated with her maternal depression and find ways to cope with her depression symptoms.

At Achieve Medical Center, we provide comprehensive and compassionate care to women who are experiencing symptoms of maternal depression. Our clinicians understand and respect the unique bond between a mother and child, and take into consideration all the aspects of that relationship when collaborating with patients about a treatment plan. To learn more about our current maternal depression treatment options, please contact us online or call us at (858) 427-5060.

Insomnia and depression

Understanding the Link Between Depression and Insomnia and How TMS Can Help

Depression and insomnia are often related conditions. To better understand the link between depression and insomnia, let’s first examine each condition individually.

Depression, often diagnosed as Major Depressive Disorder, is a medical illness that affects the way a person acts, feels, and thinks. It can cause feelings of sadness, low energy, weight changes, sleep pattern changes, decrease interest in or enjoyment from previously pleasurable activities, and many other symptoms.

Insomnia is a medical disorder that makes it difficult for a person to fall or stay asleep. There are two types of insomnia: acute and chronic. Acute insomnia refers to a sleep disruption that happens for a short period of time; for example, a person may experience acute insomnia after a stressful event such as the loss of a loved one. Chronic insomnia refers to disrupted sleep that lasts for three months or longer. The insomnia can either be due to another medical or psychiatric condition, or can be independent. Insomnia is associated with a variety of physical and mental issues, and can impair a person’s ability to function properly

Research has highlighted the correlation between depression and insomnia. In a study published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, researchers evaluated patients dealing with depression and insomnia to determine if there was a “genuine” relationship between the two conditions, and in fact, found that there was a genuine relationship beyond a simple overlap of symptoms. Their results showed that insomnia treatment may help reduce depression symptoms and that both depression and insomnia symptoms could be treated at the same time.

In a study published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, researchers examined the association between sleep disturbance and major depression. Researchers found that depressed patients frequently experience sleep disturbances that alter the function of the brain’s neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that carry signals to cells across the body. They also indicated that depressed patients who managed their sleep disturbances improved their quality of life and had a decreased rate of depression recurrence.

Does Insomnia Trigger Depression, or Vice-Versa?

Insomnia does not necessarily cause depression on its own, but can often be a sign of clinical depression. If a person experiences frequent sleep disturbances, he or she may be dealing with clinical depression.

A lack of sleep can make it difficult for an individual to manage his or her depression symptoms. The longer a person deals with insomnia, the worse their depression symptoms may become. If depression and insomnia continue to go untreated, an individual may struggle with both physical and mood-related symptoms that prevent them from enjoying life.

How to Treat Depression and Insomnia

Medications and psychotherapy are two of the most common treatments for depression and insomnia. In some instances, patients use both medications and therapy to treat their depression and insomnia symptoms. A variety of therapeutic interventions are available for the treatment of depression, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

A doctor may prescribe medications that help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep or help a patient stay asleep. He or she may also recommend antidepressants to help treat depression if that is suspected to be playing a role. Each medication treatment program is tailored to a patient, and a trial-and-error approach may be required to ensure that a patient can use medications to treat depression and insomnia without experiencing intolerable side effects.

CBT involves the use of a structured program to identify behaviors and thoughts that cause depression and insomnia. It requires a patient to work with a mental health counselor who helps him or her discover the root cause of depression and insomnia symptoms. Then, a plan is developed to help a patient change his or her behaviors and thoughts. Alternative therapies to CBT are also available, depending on what would be best for each individual patient.

In addition to medications and CBT, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy is quickly becoming a top choice to treat depression and insomnia. TMS therapy may be performed on its own or in conjunction with medications and CBT to help patients alleviate depression and insomnia symptoms.

A Closer Look at TMS Therapy to Treat Depression and Insomnia

TMS is a revolutionary therapy for Major Depressive Disorder. It involves the use of magnetic pulses sent to the brain which stimulate neurons involved in the regulation and production of mood symptoms, all with the goal of treating the symptoms of depression.

A TMS therapy program requires five sessions per week, conducted over the course of six weeks. Each TMS treatment session lasts 20 minutes, and a patient can resume his or her normal activities after a session. Plus, TMS therapy does not require medications, anesthesia, or electrical shocks, and the treatment’s side effects are often minimal.

Schedule a Depression and Insomnia Treatment Consultation with Achieve Medical Center Today

Achieve Medical Center takes a multidisciplinary approach to treat depression, insomnia, and other medical disorders. We offer comprehensive mental health and wellness services for children and adults, and we work diligently to provide our patients with the best care and support. To schedule a treatment consultation with Achieve Medical Center, please contact us online or call us at (858) 427-5060.

What Is Psychiatric Medication Management?

What Is Psychiatric Medication Management?

Psychiatric medication management, commonly referred to as psychopharmacology, helps people take a comprehensive and personalized approach to identify the right medications to address their mental health symptoms.

Psychopharmacology involves working with a psychiatrist who understands the complexities associated with mental illness. This psychiatrist recognizes that each patient is different, and he or she understands that there is no one-size-fits-all medication to treat all types of mental illness. Thus, a patient can discuss his or her mental health concerns with a psychiatrist, who then works with this individual to develop a personalized psychopharmacology program.

With psychopharmacology, a patient receives a full diagnostic assessment that allows a psychiatrist to identify and diagnose mental and physical health issues. Following diagnosis, a psychiatrist may recommend one or more medications to help a patient safely and effectively manage his or her mental illness.

A patient who begins a psychopharmacology program receives ongoing medication management and follow-up care. A psychiatrist tracks his or her patient’s progress throughout treatment to ensure that he or she can achieve the best possible results. Psychiatric medication management can occasionally require coordinating with other prescribing providers such as primary care physicians, cardiologists, or OB/Gyn, all in order to ensure that there are no adverse medication interactions.

Is Medication the Best Option to Treat Mental Illness?

Psychopharmacology is one of several options to treat mental illness. Other mental health treatment options include:

  • Psychotherapy is used to help people identify and resolve problems that contribute to mental illness.
  • Ketamine therapy involves low-dose infusions of ketamine to help reduce symptoms of mental illness.
  • Neurofeedback is a form of brainwave training designed to help the brain perform at its fullest capacity.
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS therapy) involves the use of magnetic pulses delivered to the brain to stimulate neurons responsible for depression symptoms.

At Achieve Medical Center, we offer psychopharmacology and other mental health services. To schedule a free consultation with Achieve Medical Center, please contact us online or call us today at (858) 427-5060.

Neurofeedback: How Optimizing Your Brain Can Help Treat Depression and Anxiety

Neurofeedback: How Optimizing Your Brain Can Help Treat Depression and Anxiety

Neurofeedback, also referred to as electroencephalography (EEG) biofeedback, is a type of brainwave training used to teach the brain how to operate at its fullest capacity. Neurofeedback is sometimes mistaken as biofeedback; however, it is crucial to note the differences between biofeedback and neurofeedback.

Biofeedback refers to a method used to obtain information about the body, such as tracking skin temperature or blood pressure. It promotes the use of conditioning to help people gain control over involuntary body processes.

Comparatively, neurofeedback focuses on feedback from brainwaves. It helps people gain control over neurological issues and prevent them from recurring.

Neurofeedback to treat depression and anxiety is now an available form of treatment. In addition to treating depression, neurofeedback is commonly used to address the following issues:

  • Insomnia
  • PTSD
  • Addiction
  • Trauma
  • Stress
  • Autism
  • Brain injury

A typical neurofeedback training session involves the use of advanced computer technology that helps to optimize the brain’s performance. To start a neurofeedback session, a provider asks a patient a series of questions; that way, the provider can evaluate the patient and ensure he or she is a good candidate for neurofeedback.

During a training session, sensors are placed on top of a patient’s ears and scalp. These sensors enable a neurofeedback technician to analyze the patient’s brain activity and examine frequencies that regulate brain function. The sensors are only used to examine electrical activity from the brain, and they do not administer any frequencies to the brain.

As a patient’s brain activity is monitored, he or she watches fractal images created from brain activity. Meanwhile, neurofeedback training is used to help the patient regulate his or her brain’s performance. In doing so, neurofeedback drives self-regulation of the brain.

Neurofeedback sessions require anywhere from 15 to 35 minutes to complete. Side effects of neurofeedback are minimal, and patients usually require several treatment sessions to achieve the best possible results.

With neurofeedback, the brain gradually heals itself via neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to recognize synaptic connections. Neuroplasticity promotes nervous system changes and helps a patient achieve long-lasting neurofeedback training results.

As a neurofeedback session progresses, a patient’s brain generally transitions from an uncomfortable state to a more focused and relaxed state. This ultimately trains the brain to control arousal and excitement levels, enabling a patient to use neurofeedback to treat depression and anxiety.

Is Neurofeedback a Safe, Effective Treatment for Depression and Anxiety?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has cited neurofeedback as a “Level 1” treatment for evidence-based child and adolescent psychological interventions. Additionally, neurofeedback patients sometimes report improved mood, more restful sleep, and increased focus following treatment.

At the same time, it is important to remember that depression and anxiety treatment results vary. Thus, it is paramount to consult with a doctor to evaluate different depression and anxiety treatment options. This allows an individual to work with a doctor to determine a safe and effective way to treat depression and anxiety symptoms.

Doctors sometimes recommend antidepressant medications to combat depression and anxiety. These medications may help an individual address his or her depression and anxiety symptoms. Conversely, they may also cause nausea, vomiting, and other intolerable side effects. In certain instances, antidepressants have no impact, and patients continue to experience depression and anxiety symptoms despite their medication use.

Also, doctors may recommend neurofeedback and other alternative therapies to alleviate depression and anxiety. Alternative therapies used to treat depression and anxiety include:

  • Ketamine Therapy: Ketamine therapy involves the use of an FDA-approved anesthetic shown to relieve depression and anxiety symptoms. It delivers results similar to those associated with antidepressants, but these results may last only a few days or weeks.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, commonly referred to as “talk therapy,” helps an individual build the coping skills necessary to deal with depression and anxiety. Many forms of psychotherapy are available, including individual, play, and group therapy options. Each type of psychotherapy is designed to help a patient identify the root cause of depression and anxiety symptoms and explore ways to treat these symptoms.
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): TMS therapy involves the use of magnetic pulses to stimulate neurons in the brain. It is non-invasive, has few side effects, and does not require any medications. Plus, TMS therapy is FDA-approved to help treat and heal the brain.

There is no shortage of depression and anxiety therapies, and choosing the right treatment may be difficult. Fortunately, Achieve Medical Center is a unique, multidisciplinary, private psychiatric and mental health practice that helps patients find the right depression and anxiety therapy.

At Achieve Medical Center, our philosophy is to deliver comprehensive and compassion care to children and adults. To accomplish our mission, we work as a team to analyze our patients on a biological, psychological, and social level. This enables us to help each patient discover the best way to manage his or her depression and anxiety symptoms.

Schedule a Neurofeedback Training Consultation at Achieve Medical Center

For individuals who are considering neurofeedback or other alternative depression and anxiety therapies, Achieve Medical Center is available. We offer six locations in Southern California and three locations in Oregon, along with expert staff who understand what it takes to treat depression and anxiety symptoms. We also allocate the necessary time and resources to learn about our patients and their depression and anxiety treatment goals. In doing so, we work closely with each of our patients to help them achieve long-lasting depression and anxiety symptom relief.


Achieve Medical Center provides free consultations for individuals who are considering neurofeedback or other depression and anxiety therapy options. To schedule a consultation with Achieve Medical Center, please call us today at (858) 427-5060.

What Causes Panic Attacks and How to Manage Them

What Causes Panic Attacks and How to Manage Them

A panic attack refers to a sudden period of intense fear. Panic attacks usually reach their peak within minutes of onset, and common panic attack symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Fear of losing control and/or dying
  • Palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness

Most people experience one or two panic attacks during their lifetime. However, people dealing with recurring panic attacks may be diagnosed with panic disorder.

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder linked to ongoing panic attacks. It is more common in women than men, and people may start to experience panic disorder symptoms at a young age. Panic disorder sometimes makes it tough for people to engage with family members and friends. In extreme cases, panic disorder prevents people from leaving their homes.

If you or someone you know is dealing with panic attacks or panic disorder, help is available. In fact, if you can identify the root cause of a panic attack or panic disorder, you can treat the issue and discover ways to prevent it from getting out of hand.

What Causes a Panic Attack?

There is no known cause of panic attacks. However, research indicates any of the following factors may play a role in a panic attack:

  • Genetics
  • Stress
  • Changes in the way the brain functions

There are several factors that may increase a person’s risk of experiencing a panic attack, too. These factors include:

  • Family history of panic attacks
  • Excess caffeine or nicotine consumption
  • Major life changes, such as a divorce or the birth of a child

A panic attack generally occurs without notice and may be triggered by the body’s natural fight-or-flight response to danger. In some instances, a panic attack happens when there is no sign of danger.

How to Manage Panic Attacks

If you experience a panic attack, you should seek medical treatment immediately. And remember, a panic attack may be uncomfortable, but it is not dangerous. If you get medical help right away, you can address your panic attack symptoms and identify ways to keep these symptoms from recurring.

Additionally, there are many things you can do to manage a panic attack as it happens, such as:

1. Practice Deep Breathing

During a panic attack, you may start breathing rapidly and shallowly from the upper lungs, and this may lead to shortness of breath, nausea, confusion, dizziness, and other physical symptoms. Conversely, if you notice your breathing rate and pattern begin to change, take a deep breath. You then can gently and slowly inhale air through the nose, fill your lower and upper lungs with air, and exhale slowly through the mouth. Thanks to this deep breathing exercise, you can slow down your breathing, relax your muscles, and overcome your panic attack symptoms.

2. Close Your Eyes

A panic attack sometimes occurs in a busy environment filled with bright lights, loud noises, and other stimuli. In this scenario, it may be difficult to focus, and panic attack symptoms may escalate quickly. When faced with this type of situation, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. This exercise allows you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and focus on what’s most important — overcoming your panic attack.

3. Take a Walk

If you are dealing with a panic attack, a walk may help you alleviate your panic attack symptoms. Walking can trigger endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals in the brain that help reduce pain or stress. Plus, walking is gentle on the body and is unlikely to raise your stress levels. Of course, if you are hyperventilating or struggling to breathe due to a panic attack, you should avoid walking or other physical activity until you catch your breath.

4. Use a Focus Object

Selecting a focus object may help you stop a panic attack. A focus object can be anything in clear sight, and as you look at this object, you can study its color, shapes, patterns, size, and other features. As a result, you can prioritize your focus object — and increase the likelihood that your panic attack symptoms will disappear.

5. Envision a Happy Place

When a panic attack strikes, think about a happy place you have already visited or want to visit. Whether it’s a serene beach or an awe-inspiring cabin in the mountains, you can picture yourself in your happy place to help calm your mind and body. With this approach, you can minimize stress and keep your panic attack symptoms at bay.

Take Steps to Address Panic Attacks

For people who continuously experience panic attacks, many treatment options are available, including:

  • Medications: Benzodiazepines, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and other medications have been shown to help people manage their panic attack symptoms. On the other hand, these medications sometimes cause unwanted side effects or do not deliver the desired results.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, aka “talk therapy,” helps people identify their panic attack triggers. It typically involves working with a therapist who helps a patient understand the root cause of his or her panic attacks and find ways to prevent these attacks from occurring.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and recreational drugs may help an individual stop his or her panic attacks. Furthermore, aerobic activity and sufficient rest may help a person maintain a healthy lifestyle that lowers his or her risk of panic attacks.

Finding the right treatment to manage panic attacks can be challenging, but the team at Achieve Medical Center can help. We are a multidisciplinary psychiatric and mental health practice committed to providing comprehensive and compassionate care to all of our patients. We also focus on the biological, psychological, and social aspects of each patient to provide him or her with the best support possible.


Our team can meet with you and help you explore panic attack treatment options. To schedule a consultation with Achieve Medical Center, please contact us today at (858) 427-5060.