Oh yes! Baby blues is a far different condition from postpartum depression. The former is not a mental health issue, and it will go away on its own without the need for treatment or counseling. As for postpartum depression, it is a severe ailment that affects the mind of women who have just given birth. More often, these women go through a destructive phase, and various help systems are required to treat the issue.
Dina Cagliostro, PhD, distinguished baby blues and postpartum depression by saying, “Women that give birth and struggle with sadness, anxiety or worry for several weeks or more may have postpartum depression (PPD). While the baby blues tend to pass quickly, PPD can be long-lasting and severely affect a woman’s ability to get through her daily routine.”
The baby blues
Hormones and emotions are intimately intertwined which are why there is a condition called “baby blues.” Studies have shown that almost eighty percent of women who recently gave birth are suffering this roller coaster of feelings called baby blues and that’s because of their hormones. When a woman is pregnant, all her hormones are intact and ready to sustain a healthy pregnancy. But after the baby is delivered, these same hormones will rapidly drop. It is the reason why a woman who has just given birth will experience irritability, weepiness and being overwhelmed.
The baby blues condition is not an alarming issue. It will just dissipate as the mother’s body will adjust to its new role. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, affects the remaining 20% of new mothers. And this is something that needs immediate treatment. Sometimes called postnatal depression, it can also bring about the existence of anxiety problems. Mothers don’t only deal with one mental health issue, but they are trying and perhaps failing to cope with two mental health problems.
With baby blues, it is common for new mothers to cry easily. It then becomes a risk for postpartum depression when a new mother cries almost all day, every day for an extended period, and can’t function properly because of the crying episodes, then, that’s not a good sign. This happening is not normal at all.
Postpartum depression is not uncommon as some may think. According to psychologist Ellen Hendriksen, “9-16% of moms will experience postpartum depression. Indeed, a mix of genetics, hormones, predisposition, support (or lack thereof) and stress lay fertile ground for the illness.”
Experts on postpartum depression say that when distinguishing baby blues from postpartum depression, there are three things to check – Do you always feel this way? How long is it that you’ve felt this way? Is it severely interrupting with your daily life? If the answer is YES and you’ve felt this way for longer than three weeks after delivery, then, it’s considered postpartum depression.
Some definite signs of postpartum depression
- Crying most days and persistently overwhelmed by the situation even after three weeks
- Cannot function well because of this overwhelming feeling and constant crying
- The impression that symptoms are too excruciating emotionally
- Wanting to sleep but the body won’t allow it
- Desiring to sleep all day, every day
- Not enjoying your baby or don’t want to spend time with the baby
- Afraid that if you touch your baby, something terrible will happen
- Change in appetite drastically
- Anxious all the time about the baby
- Intensely angry
- History of depression or anxiety within the family
- Not enjoying the activities you previously liked doing
- Feeling that you have lost yourself somewhere
- Contemplating on self-harming
- Thinking that you are a terrible mother and that your family is better off without you in it
Getting help for postpartum depression
The condition is real, and it affects millions worldwide. The problem is that most women don’t know they have a mental health issue and with that, they don’t seek treatment.
Some women are also affected by the stigma of postpartum depression. Susan Hatters Friedman, MD, elaborated this by saying, “There’s so much stigma about postpartum depression. As a society, we expect it to be the happiest time of a woman’s life. A lot of women don’t report if they’re having symptoms.”
At this day and age, people are more receptive to postpartum depression and if ever you feel like any of the symptoms applies to you, don’t hesitate to seek immediate help.
Motherhood is a beautiful life-altering transition, and postpartum depression may trample on it. Don’t let it happen. You can find help through your doctor and specialists will be recommended for you.