Is It Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?

Published on June 6th, 2018

Updated on January 2nd, 2024

Is It Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?

It is common for mothers who have recently given birth to have a low mood or struggle with sadness. Oftentimes these kinds of feelings are temporary and fade as time passes. You may hear of this experience as the baby blues.

The Baby Blues

The baby blues refers to a mildly depressed mood after giving birth. When a mother has the baby blues, she may be more irritable than normal. She may have mood swings and struggle with some anxious feelings. Mothers who have the baby blues may feel overwhelmed or fearful for the well-being of their baby or feel dependent on their partner for support. Mothers can feel the baby blues for one to three weeks after their first slump in mood, and the change can occur between one day and two weeks following the birth of the baby. When symptoms last longer than two weeks or worsen over time, the mother may be suffering from postpartum depression.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a form of depression that affects mothers after giving birth. It is a condition that can be alarming for a mother, but it is not uncommon. Many mothers experience postpartum depression, especially after giving birth for the first time.

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Postpartum depression can be experienced at varying levels of severity. Mild forms may cause crying spells and anxiety. More severe forms have the potential to show psychotic symptoms along with other symptoms that are hazardous to the health and well-being of both the mother and child.

Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression

A mother suffering from postpartum depression will experience symptoms that cause mood swings and anxiety. These symptoms may affect the mother’s ability to bond with her baby. It may also affect her ability to perform her duties as a mother. 

Mothers with postpartum depression are vulnerable to different symptoms. Such symptoms include:

Symptoms most commonly begin to develop as early as days after giving birth or as late as 6 months after birth. In severe cases, a mother can experience psychotic symptoms (paranoia, delusions, and disorientation).

What Causes Postpartum Depression?

Different factors can cause postpartum depression. A mother goes through many changes when she gives birth. These changes can cause her to feel overwhelmed, which can lead to anxiety and a depressed mood. Changes that can cause postpartum depression include:

Bodily Changes

There are changes in hormone levels of the body that can lead to a depressed mood. Also, exhaustion from giving birth can leave a mother’s body and mind fatigued and vulnerable to mood changes. 

Changes That Come With A Newborn

The stress of a new baby is exhausting. Sleep deprivation and the stress of a crying baby can be overwhelming for a mother. Exhaustion can cause a mother to struggle with emotional stability and regulation.

Changes For New Mothers

New mothers can be more vulnerable to postpartum depression than experienced mothers. The birth of a mother’s first baby brings about many lifestyle changes. Preparation for a new baby is important, but there are some things that a new mother does not know to prepare for. The challenges that come with a new baby can overwhelm a new mother, which can cause her to become depressed.

Risk Factors For Baby Blues And Postpartum Depression

Pre-existing issues can put a mother at risk for both the baby blues and postpartum depression. Some risk factors for postpartum depression include:

Treatment for Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression should be taken seriously. Leaving a case untreated can have devastating consequences. Postpartum depression can last for months and can have long-term consequences if not properly treated. 

New mothers may feel alone in their struggle if not properly supported. Patience and understanding can empower a mother suffering from postpartum depression to seek the help she needs. Fortunately, medical and mental health professionals are equipped to help a mother who is suffering from postpartum depression.

Treatment options for postpartum depression include:

The mother’s friends and family need to learn about postpartum depression. Feeling judged, dismissed, or misunderstood can cause a mother with postpartum depression to feel helpless. Feelings of helplessness may prevent a mother from investing in proper mental health care.

Suffering from postpartum depression is scary, but it is not hopeless. If you have concerns about postpartum depression for yourself or a loved one it is important to speak with your doctor or mental health professional. They will have the resources and tools needed to keep you and your family well.

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