Do You Have Baby Blues Or Postpartum Depression? This Emotional Life - PBS

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    Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D.

Shoshana Bennett, Ph.D.'s Bio

Dr. Shosh is a pioneer in the field of postpartum depression.

Do You Have Baby Blues Or Postpartum Depression?


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Concerned new moms often call me to ask, “Are my feelings normal or am I depressed?”  Here are two basic guidelines to help you differentiate between the Baby Blues and postpartum depression (PPD).

Baby Blues are totally normal and most moms (60-80%) experience them. On the other hand, PPD is a disorder.  As a matter of fact, postpartum depression is the most common complication associated with childbirth. One in seven new mothers experience this disorder.

There are two main ways to differentiate Baby Blues from PPD.  First, Baby Blues always begin in the first few days following delivery and it should be gone by about two weeks postpartum.  The symptoms are mild – frequent teariness, feelings of dependence and stress.  If these mild Blues continue past two weeks postpartum, it’s now called postpartum depression.  Duration of the symptoms is the first way to tell the difference between the normal Blues and the disorder PPD.

Postpartum depression may begin immediately or at any time during the first year following delivery.  Sometimes PPD occurs when the mild Baby Blues continue and at other times the symptoms of the Blues begin spiraling downward and becoming more serious.  Although PPD typically peaks around three months postpartum if it’s not treated, it can start even months after the baby is born.

Some of the most common symptoms of postpartum depression include difficulty sleeping at night even when everyone else is sleeping, a change in appetite, high anxiety, hopelessness, irritability or anger, low self-esteem, lack of energy and frequent crying.  Not every woman experiences all of these symptoms and there are other symptoms not listed that may occur. 

What’s most important to note is that unlike the mild Baby Blues, the severity of the postpartum depression symptoms are bad enough that they disrupt the woman’s ability to function.  So, if the symptoms are severe enough to get in the way of her day, she should definitely seek help.  A mom with the Blues typically understands this is temporary and she’ll feel like herself again.  A mom with postpartum depression usually feels like this will last forever, she lost herself and she’ll never get herself back.  Severity of the symptoms is the second way to tell the difference between the Blues and PPD.

If you aren’t feeling like yourself after having a baby, contact a mental health professional who specializes in this field.  If you’re experiencing the Blues, getting some suggestions to move through it quicker will be useful.  And if you’ve got postpartum depression, no worries!  There are simple steps you can take to recover, and the sooner you get those in place, the better. You deserve to feel happy and enjoy motherhood!

Originally published on YourTango.