Home' Aurora : Aurora June 2013 Contents WITH TANYA RUSSELL
BY TRACEY EDSTEIN
Bringing baby home soon?
Longing for sleep
BY TRACEY EDSTEIN
QI've been diagnosed
with depression and
have commenced taking
antidepressant medication. I am
experiencing some relief, but I
continue to struggle with insomnia.
I believed that antidepressant
medication would help but it has not.
I have had insomnia for many years
and I spend hours awake, thinking.
What else can I do?
AInsomnia can be a stubborn
symptom of depression and I
recommend you return to your
doctor to discuss this in more detail.
It would be worthwhile reviewing your
progress on antidepressant medication
and your doctor can advise whether
any changes need to be made. It is also
important to rule in or out any other
medical conditions that may contribute to
insomnia. For example, it is quite common
for women (and less commonly, men) to
have undiagnosed thyroid problems which
can cause mood disturbances as well
as insomnia. Other medical causes may
include asthma, allergies, menopause,
various medications and chronic pain.
Once you have been given definitive
advice from your doctor, try some of the
night (between 10pm-11pm is ideal). If
you are a shift worker, create a routine
where your brain understands that you
are preparing for bed. For example, you
may have a shower before bed, read
a book for a few minutes or engage
in another non-stimulating activity
(crosswords, Sudoku, watching TV).
• Avoid caffeine and smoking for a few
hours before bed. These are both
stimulants and won't help your mind
• Avoid alcohol to help you sleep. There
are long-term negative effects on sleep,
physical and mental health associated
with alcohol use.
• Try to get regular exercise a few times
per week but do not exercise late in the
• Ensure your bedroom is quiet, dark and
• Before bed, you may snack on foods
that contain tryptophan, an amino acid
that can promote sleep: dairy products
such as milk and cheese; proteins
such as turkey, beef, pork, shellfish and
eggs; soy products; nuts and seeds.
Don't have a whole meal as you may
be creating another problem (weight
gain, indigestion) but perhaps select
something small from this list.
Once you are in bed try some of the
tips below. If you are still awake after 30
minutes or so, get up, do something non-
stimulating and return to bed when you are
drowsy again. Repeat this process until
you fall asleep:
• Focus on deep breathing. In through
your nose, out through your mouth. This
should physically relax you.
• Go through alphabetical lists: from A-Z,
boys' names, girls' names, foods etc.
You will notice that intrusive thoughts
Pregnant? Expecting your first
baby, and maybe feeling a mixture
of joy, excitement, apprehension
and exhaustion? Read on to learn
of a program that could ease
your concerns and enhance your
Bringing a new life into the world is
probably the single biggest change a
mother-to-be and her partner will ever
experience. It will make demands on
the couple's time, energy, priorities and
relationship. The first time round, these
emotions are heightened, and with
couples not necessarily living close to
extended family, the support of earlier
times may not be so readily available.
Enter "Bringing Baby Home", a research-
based and tested educational intervention
course about to be piloted in Newcastle
by CatholicCare Social Services Marriage
& Relationship Educator, Robyn Donnelly.
"Bringing Baby Home", said Robyn, who
has been trained to facilitate the program,
is "aimed at expectant parents with their
first or second child.
"Participants ideally come before the
child's arrival; however, babies up to five
months are welcome with parents at the
"I am passionate about this course and it's
my hope that couples will not only learn
really practical and helpful strategies, but
also enjoy being with others at a similar
milestone stage of their lives."
The aims of "Bringing Baby Home" are:
• To assist expectant couples and
parents of infants and toddlers equip
themselves with the knowledge and skills
needed to cope constructively with the
changes brought about by the birth of a
• To assist couples in learning how to
strengthen their friendship,
increase intimacy and regulate
conflict within the couple
relationship through Gottman's
Sound Relationship House
• To increase relationship
satisfaction for long-term
benefits to the couple and their
"Bringing Baby Home" will
begin in Newcastle in July.
If you are expecting or have
not long welcomed your first
second child, and are interest
in developing your relationshi
enhance family life and ease t
stresses involved in the trans
to parenting, please contact R y
on 4979 1172. Feel free to share this
Tanya Russell, is
Team Leader. Each month
Tanya will address an issue.
The advice provided is general
in nature and does not replace
ongoing support and advice
from your health professional.
To talk to someone about
P 4979 1172. Email your
question to aurora@
mn.catholic.org.au or write to
PO Box 756
Todd and Sophie Smith are eagerly looking forward
to bringing baby home.
will still pop up. Just go back to A and
start again. You don't have to actively
push these thoughts away, rather
distract yourself. When you are trying to
fall asleep, I don't recommend you try to
think of positive memories or fantasies.
This could stimulate your mind and take
your thoughts in all sorts of directions.
The distraction must be neutral so
listing alphabetically is a good option.
• If intrusive thoughts continue, write
them down to get them out of your
head. You can deal with them at
Sleep medications should be carefully
considered as a last resort. Traditional
medications can be addictive and they
may improve quantity, but not quality,
of sleep. There are new medications
that contain melatonin, and this class of
drug enhances sleep quality. Talk to your
doctor about this if your sleep issues
are not resolved. You may also consider
trying natural alternatives. There are some
companies who produce sleep remedies
that also act on the worrying thoughts
and stress. These could be a good
option for people who 'think too much'.
Check with your doctor first about any
possible interaction with antidepressant
Counselling is an option to work on the
nature of intrusive and worrying thoughts
as they may be a symptom of depression
requiring further support.
Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
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