Postpartum Depression Not Your Typical Baby Blues

Postpartum Depression: Not Your Typical Baby Blues

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023 by Emma White

Most women eagerly look forward to the birth of their child. They cannot wait to meet this little one and get to know them. Sadly, some women find this birth isn’t the joyous occasion they imagined. They feel sad and suffer from mood swings once the baby is born. This is more common than most women realize, and it has often been called the “baby blues”.

What are the Baby Blues?

Three to five days after the birth, a woman may notice she is sad and her emotions are all over the place. This continues for around two weeks before things start to normalize once again. The baby blues are a result of hormonal changes that take place in the woman after she gives birth. Estrogen levels, for example, need to stabilize after this major life event. The postpartum emotional rollercoaster can be very disturbing, and a woman may want to get off this ride.

Women struggling with the baby blues might find they cry a lot. Many ladies feel anxious and they may become restless or overwhelmed. It’s not surprising, as a new baby in the home comes with a lot of responsibility. This adds stress to the mother’s life at a time when she is already short on sleep and may be feeling self-conscious about the changes in her body. She may also worry about the other children and their reactions to the new baby.

When a woman experiences these symptoms, she should not worry. Up to 75 percent of women get the baby blues. Her focus needs to be on caring for the baby and other children. Plenty of sleep and a healthy diet will help her navigate the baby blues, which should subside in a few weeks. What happens if these feelings do not go away?

Postpartum Depression

Any mother who feels depressed after giving birth should speak to her doctor. She may be suffering from a condition known as postpartum depression or PPD. Up to 15 percent of women struggle with PPD following the birth of a child. The symptoms of PPD are very similar to those seen with major depression. How can a woman know when she should seek help for PPD? What makes this condition different from the baby blues?

The baby blues tend to only affect a woman for a few hours each day and typically disappear within two weeks of giving birth. Postpartum depression, in contrast, can affect every waking moment and the symptoms may not appear until weeks after the baby is born. Once they do, the symptoms may persist for up to a year.

Women who have the baby blues often become irritable. At times, they are sad and simply want to sleep. Symptoms seen with postpartum depression are more severe. The woman might become aggressive or experience extreme stress. She may feel detached from the baby and not be able to bond with the infant.

A woman with an existing mental health condition is more at risk of PPD. Those with a family history of PPD are also more at risk. Genetics appear to play a role in who develops PPD and who doesn’t.

Any mother who is struggling after the birth of a child should speak to her healthcare professional. They can help determine whether it is the baby blues or PPD. Once this has been determined, a plan can be put into place to address the problem. Open this dialogue today.