How to Tell the Difference Between Postpartum Depression and the “Baby Blues”

 How to Tell the Difference Between Postpartum Depression and the “Baby Blues”

Bringing home a newborn is a significant life event filled with joy and excitement. But if you’re feeling anxious, stressed, and sad after the birth of your baby, you may wonder if something is wrong.

Most times, nothing is wrong. This period is called the “baby blues,” and many women experience it immediately following the birth of their baby. However, if you continue to feel sad, empty, or detached more than two weeks after delivering your baby, you may have postpartum depression — a significant mental health disorder that affects how you think, feel, and behave. 

At Revîv Functional Psychiatry & TMS Wellness Center in Fullerton, California, our compassionate psychiatrist Dr. Hina Sidhu treats postpartum depression.

In this article, we want to explain the difference between postpartum depression and the baby blues and when it’s time to reach out for help.

About the baby blues

A majority of women — as many as 85% — experience the baby blues after giving birth. It usually occurs about 3-5 days after delivery and lasts for two weeks. During this period, you may feel restless, anxious, and overwhelmed. You’re happy and laughing one minute and crying the next.

Hormonal changes combined with sleep deprivation, isolation, and your new responsibilities are behind the turbulent emotions that come with the baby blues. 

Baby blues vs. postpartum depression

The baby blues are normal and symptoms generally improve within a week and resolve after two weeks. However, if your baby blues continue or worsen, you may have postpartum depression.

Unlike the baby blues, postpartum depression isn’t normal or expected. It’s a significant mental illness that can last months or years when left untreated. 

Researchers theorize that the sudden change in estrogen and progesterone levels may trigger postpartum depression. During pregnancy, your estrogen and progesterone levels are at their highest. Within 24 hours after giving birth, these hormones plummet back to pre-pregnancy levels. 

Sleep deprivation, self-doubt about motherhood, and lack of free time may exacerbate your depression. 

While there are risk factors for postpartum depression (personal history of depression, lack of support with the baby, having a baby with special needs), any woman can develop it. 

Reaching out for help

New mothers who feel sad when they’re expected to feel happy may not reach out for help because they’re ashamed or feel like they’re a bad mother. But it’s essential to ask for help when you don’t feel like yourself, during or after pregnancy.

Psychotherapy and antidepressants are the primary treatments for peripartum and postpartum depression. We can talk to you about the antidepressants that are safe to take during and after pregnancy and when breastfeeding. 

Reaching out for help benefits you and your baby now and in the future. 

 If you’re feeling sad, empty, or anxious and you’re pregnant or recently had a baby, call our office or book an appointment online today to get the help you need. We also offer telemedicine appointments.  

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