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Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression – What is the difference?

03/21/2015 04:15PM ● Published by Hood Magazine

By Sanford 


Having a baby usually brings a range of emotions that can include extreme highs and lows.  These up-and-down feelings are normal and can be the result of changing hormones and the demands of caring for a new baby. But how can you determine if you are dealing with the baby blues versus postpartum depression? 


Do I have the baby blues?

A majority (60-70%) of new moms experience some degree of baby blues. The way you feel in the first few weeks might be influenced by the baby blues.  


Symptoms of the baby blues:


•   Mood changes

•   Weepiness or sadness

•   Anxiety

•   Lack of concentration

•   Feelings of dependency or inadequacy


If you have any of these symptoms, talk about your feelings and take care of yourself by getting the rest, support, and reassurance you need.  If the baby blues don't go away after three weeks, call your healthcare provider. You could be experiencing postpartum depression.


Am I experiencing postpartum depression?

Parents that have experienced postpartum depression commonly say, "I wish I had known that the #1 complication of childbirth is depression". Research indicates that one in eight new moms experience postpartum depression.  


Postpartum depression points:


•   Postpartum depression can come on suddenly after giving birth or more gradually in the 12 months after baby's birth.  

•   You may be more at risk if you have experienced depression in the past.  

•   Postpartum depression is different from the baby blues because it lasts longer and is more severe.  


Symptoms of postpartum depression:

•   Extreme exhaustion

•   Irritability 

•   Appetite and sleep disturbances

•   Persistent weepiness or sadness

•   Difficulty concentrating

•   Mood swings

•   Excessive worrying and anxiety

•   No motivation

•   Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby


If you experience any of these symptoms, or if your partner or another family member notices them, you should seek help from your medical provider (your doctor or certified nurse midwife).  It is important to know that postpartum depression is not a mother's fault or a measure of one's parenting ability; it is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Postpartum depression is very treatable!  But it usually does not go away on its own.  Treatment includes therapy, a wellness plan, and possibly medication.  

If you have questions or concerns, please contact your medical provider.  

Health, Parenting baby