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Having a baby is stressful—no matter how much you've looked forward to it or how much you love your child. The baby blues are perfectly normal, but if your symptoms don’t go away after a few weeks or get worse, you may have postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can interfere with your ability to take care of your child, so it’s important to get help right away. With treatment and support, you can get back on the road to happy motherhood.

The baby blues

You’ve just had a baby. You expected to be basking in new mom bliss. You expected to be celebrating the arrival of your little one with your friends and family. But instead of celebrating, you feel like crying. You were prepared for joy and excitement, not exhaustion, anxiety, and weepiness.

You may not have been expecting it, but mild depression and mood swings are common in new mothers—so common, in fact, that it has its own name: the baby blues.

The vast majority of new mothers experience at least some symptoms of the baby blues, including moodiness, sadness, difficulty sleeping, irritability, appetite changes, concentration problems. Symptoms of the baby blues typically show up within a few days of giving birth and last from several days to a couple of weeks.

The baby blues are a normal part of new motherhood—probably caused by the hormonal changes that occur following birth. If you have them, there is no cause for undue worry. You’ll feel better once your hormones level out. Aside from the support of your loved ones and plenty of rest, no treatment is necessary.

Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression

Unlike the baby blues, postpartum depression is a more serious problem—one that you shouldn’t ignore. However, it’s not always easy to distinguish between the two.

In the beginning, postpartum depression can look like the normal baby blues. In fact, postpartum depression and the baby blues share many symptoms, including mood swings, crying jags, sadness, insomnia, and irritability. The difference is that with postpartum depression, the symptoms are more severe (such as suicidal thoughts or an inability to care for your newborn) and longer lasting.