Good advice if you are feeling under the weather

Under the Weather

Learning how to manage everyday illnesses with confidence and common sense is a great life skill. Whether you are dealing with a cold, flu, tummy bug or other minor complaint, you can trust the advice on this website. It comes from doctors and pharmacists in Ireland. was developed by the HSE (Ireland’s Health Service Executive).

Check out our topics:

COLD – Colds are caused by a virus. Find out what will help you to get better and how long it will take.

COUGH – A cough often follows a cold and can last for up to three weeks. Anything longer and you should see your doctor.

EARS – Earaches and ear infections can be painful, but most don’t need an antibiotic – just pain relief and time.

FLU – Often confused with a cold. Learn the difference between a cold and the flu and how to take care of someone with flu.

RASH – Usually caused by an allergy or infection. Here’s when to see the Doctor.

TEMPERATURE – Always a worry, particularly in a baby or young child.Here’s what to do.

THROAT – A sore throat will normally clear up by itself within about a week.

TUMMY – How to get through a bout of vomiting, diarrhoea, or both.

Post Natal Depression: A guide for Mothers, Family and Friends

After giving birth, most mothers experience some degree of mood swings. There are 3 main kinds of post natal mood change:

  • Baby blues
  • Puerperal psychosis
  • Postnatal depression

Baby blues.

So common they are considered normal for new mothers

They usually begin 2-4 days after baby is born.

You may have crying spells, increased feelings of vulnerability, loneliness and weariness.

Although distressing baby blues will pass quickly usually within weeks.

You will need as much help as you can from partner, family and friends to get as much rest as possible.

Postpartum psychosis.

Occurs in 1-2 per 100 childbearing women within the first 2-4 weeks after delivery

The onset of postpartum psychosis is rapid , as early as 2-3 days after birth.

The mother develops paranoia, grandiose or bizarre delusions , mood swings, confused thinking and grossly disorganized behaviour that represents a dramatic change for her.

Postnatal depression.

Post natal depression falls somewhere between the baby blues and postpartum psychosis.

It may affect up to 1 in 7 new mothers or even more.

Symptoms may start as baby blues and then get worse or they may take some time to develop.

It may be most obvious when your baby is 4-6 months.

The earlier it is recognised , diagnosed and treated the faster you will recover.

Postnatal depression can last longer than 3 months and even years if not treated

Often a family member will notice something is wrong before you do.


What causes postnatal depression?

Personal history :  if you have a history of depression this can be a risk factor for postnatal depression.

Birth experience : ie did not meet your expectations, feeling of being let down.Some people who develop PND have a traumatic or difficult birth or a premature or unwell baby.

Biological factors :  there is ongoing research on a temporary thyroid gland defect, linked to mood changes and to the drop of hormones after giving birth.

Changes in lifestyle : Birth of baby brings changes to your life. New babies are hard work, with constant demands of feeding, bathing, crying and putting to sleep. Therefore you lose a lot of sleep. A new mother is suddenly responsible 24 hours a day. You lose the freedom you enjoyed before baby arrived. This sense of loss can contribute to depression. It may take time to adjust to new circumstances.

Relationships. The birth of a baby can also have a profound impact on your relationships with your partner, family and friends. This can sometimes cause enormous strain.

Stressful life events: Recent life events, such as bereavement or serious illness may mean that you are emotionally stressed before the birth of your baby. You may be affected by unemployment or lack of money. Mothers who do not have a supportive partner or are isolated from their families may be more likely to suffer depression after birth. Antenatal anxiety is also a risk factor for risk of postnatal depression.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Irritability/ anger for no reason
  • Anxiety/ worried about things that aren’t usually an issue/ don’t want to leave house
  • Some mothers are afraid of being left alone with the baby
  • Panic attacks/ sweating hands/a thumping heart/nausea.
  • Sleep problems/ hard to get to sleep even if baby is sound asleep.
  • Tiredness/ constantly exhausted/unable to manage housework or looking after baby
  • Little interest in your appearance, or sex or your surroundings
  • Concentration/ feel confused or distracted
  • Appetite , may not feel like eating , or overeat/ lose or put on weight
  • Tearfulness cry often for no reasons you understand
  • Obsessive behaviour : Meticulously tidying house. Overwhelming fears, ie re dying etc
  • Some mothers have recurring thoughts about harming baby (very few mothers act on this)


Helping yourself

The most important thing you can do is look for help. Talk to your partner, family, GP, or Public Health Nurse immediately

  • Be open about your feelings and worries.
  • Believe that you will get better.
  • Take every opportunity to rest.
  • Eat well.
  • Ask people you trust to help you.
  • Set aside time for relaxing with partner. Family and friends.
  • Organise a daily treat.
  • Find time to have some fun.
  • Be intimate with your partner.

Find out what support networks are available in your area.

  • Public Health Nurse, GP, Mental Health Services
  • Counselling/ Medication
  • Local support groups
  • Mother and Toddler groups
  • Ciudiu
  • Parentline, Samaritans, Aware, Grow etc


  • Try to be superwoman.
  • Blame yourself or your partner.
  • Move house while pregnant or for some months after baby is born.



Health Service Executive, April 2016.











HSE launches Mental Health Campaign for Young People

HSE launches Mental Health Campaign for Young People

The HSE has  launched a new mental health campaign specifically targeted at young people. The ‘Mind Monster’ campaign was developed to raise awareness among adolescents and young adults of ways to look after their mental health. Focusing on things that are known to cause stress and anxiety the campaign highlights the benefits that getting enough sleep, taking regular study breaks, spending less time on devices and sharing a problem with someone you trust can have on your mental health. 
The campaign launches today on radio and social media and signposts to the HSE’s newly developed website . The site provides a significantly improved experience for everyone but is particularly relevant to young people who access information online every day. They will be able to find personalised support options through a search tool that generates information on online resources, telephone and face-to-face services relevant to a wide range of mental health issues including depression, anxiety and stress.
Speaking about the campaign Mr Jim Ryan, HSE Assistant National Director for Mental Health Operations said: “We know young people today have a lot to deal with. We wanted our campaign to highlight two key things –  you’re not on your own and talking about things with someone you trust can help. This reinforces messages within our Little Things mental health campaign that there are small everyday things that will make a positive impact on our mental health. Providing young people of all ages with the information and resources to protect their mental health is a huge focus for us. This campaign follows on from a campaign we recently launched with Union of Students Ireland to promote mental health to third level students and forms part of our efforts to deliver on our commitments under Connecting for Life, the national suicide prevention strategy.” 
·         The Mind Monster’ campaign was developed to encourage young people mind their mental health and to seek support and services
·         This campaign forms part of our efforts to deliver on our commitments under Connecting for Life, the national suicide prevention strategy specifically 
·         It also meets a number of recommendations outlined in the Youth Mental Health Task Force 
·         The Mind Monster Campaign was developed using research conducted by the Online Youth Mental Health agency,
·         The campaign has been produced in conjunction with Ireland’s Youth Information website

How music helps with children’s literacy skills

The Importance of Literacy for Children

Literacy is one of the most important skills we develop in our early childhood years. It’s not just about being able to read in school, either. Learning how to read gives children the skills they need to learn and comprehend complex ideas that help shape them into individuals. Being able to read and write gives them a means of self-expression, which is essential for self-esteem. It also expands their world as they learn about different people, places, and perspectives without ever having to leave where they are.

Developing literacy isn’t a one-way avenue—it takes a multi-faceted approach. Parents need to read to children and use unfamiliar words with them in order to help develop their vocabulary. Teachers need to provide a wide array of lessons, including phonics, handwriting, vocabulary, grammar, and creative reading/writing. Telling stories, listening to the radio, and learning how to navigate the library and conduct research also develop higher-level skills as children age.

Literacy and Music

One literacy tool parents may not consider is the power of music. Music can be used in many ways to develop a child’s reading abilities. It starts with the alphabet. How do you remember learning your letters? Was it through a song? That’s not a coincidence. Our brains have an uncanny ability to remember rhythm, melodies, and rhymes. Teaching children the alphabet through the phenomenon of song helps them learn these building blocks of language much quicker and with less difficulty.

Music can help children improve their literacy skills way beyond the alphabet song. According to a 2014 study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, children who took music lessons for two years became better at processing language, in addition to improving their musical skills. Researchers think that the shared elements between language and music—pitch, timing, and timbre—activate the same parts of the brain, so when you exercise one, it helps improve the other. Furthermore, playing music with others improves higher-level skills including collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Therefore, adding music lessons to your child’s curriculum can improve literacy as well as other academic skills crucial for 21st century success.

Adding Music to Your Child’s Life

If your child’s school offers choir or music groups at lunchtime or after school, encouraging them to sign up is one of the easiest ways to get them involved in music. However, it’s important to find other ways to engage your child in musical activity so they enjoy it, rather than solely view it as an academic obligation. Provide your child with their own area in the home where they can practice their instrument and escape when they’re feeling overwhelmed by other responsibilities.

Other ways to add music to your child’s education include:

  • Sing together!
  • Incorporate music into day-to-day chores and activities.
  • Play classical music when it’s time to read or study.
  • Attend concerts and musicals as a family.
  • Put on some high-tempo music when playing sports or exercising.
  • Keep instruments around the house.
  • Sign them up for private music lessons.

Literacy isn’t just about earning A’s in English class. Learning how to read, write, and interpret language gives children the skills to explore and grow in this world. Adding music into your child’s education works similar parts of the brain that are used when reading or writing. By including music in your child’s learning, you improve their abilities to accept, process, and retain information through the power of language.

(Thanks to Charles Carpenter for this piece)