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Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression: What’s The Difference?

Know That You Are Not Alone

Having a baby can be one of the most amazing things to happen in a woman’s life and excitement for this new member of your family is to be expected. However, so many mothers feel overwhelmed, sad, or an unexpected mix of every mood all at once. In reality, it is normal to feel this way as your mood is impacted by hormonal levels dropping suddenly after delivery and not getting enough rest as you adjust to going through what is the traumatic and miraculous experience of childbirth.

Whether due to societal pressure to have everything under control or the struggles with shame for not understanding why you’re experiencing these emotions, you may be tempted to dismiss the serious symptoms like depression, anxiety, or physical ailments.

Unsurprisingly, women of color are at an especially higher risk - twice as likely - for what is known as the Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression (PPD) than white women and even less likely to receive the quality care needed to recover. There are multiple risk factors that increase the chance of prenatal mood disruptors for WOC, including:

  • High stress living environments

  • Lack of access to quality care or health coverage

  • Exposure to social and economic traumas

  • Food and housing insecurities

  • Lower to no income or education

Getting help when you are experiencing Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression (PPD) is the most important way to heal during this time in your life and your baby’s life.

Baby Blues

Within the first few days of having your baby, it is common to have some feelings of sadness as your body and mind adjust through hormonal, emotional, and physical changes. About 4 in 5 new mothers - nearly 80% - experience the Baby Blues and it affects those of different cultures, races, ages, or educational backgrounds. Typically, it lasts 2 to 3 days after the baby is born and symptoms could go away without treatment after roughly 2 weeks. Symptoms include:

  • Feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, crankiness, and moodiness

  • Crying more often and without provocation

  • Trouble sleeping, eating or concentrating due to brain fog

  • Feel overwhelmed and inadequate in taking care of your baby

  • Feel lonely or isolated from friends and family

  • Unable to make decisions

The best way through the Baby Blues is to make it a top priority to take care of yourself through healthy sleeping, eating, gentle exercising, and avoiding stressful situations and harmful substances. If symptoms last longer than 2 weeks, you need to see your doctor as symptoms are incredibly similar to Postpartum Depression (PPD) but may have longer-lasting and severe repercussions.

Postpartum Depression

Also known as perinatal depression or PPD, Postpartum Depression is a mood disorder that occurs during pregnancy or up to one year after giving birth. The symptoms are similar to Baby Blues, but can include:

  • Persistent feelings of emptiness, lower energy, and higher irritability

  • Fear and anxiety of causing harm to your baby

  • Guilt of feeling disconnected from your baby

  • Purposefully isolating yourself from your support system

  • Crying more often and with strong waves of emotions

Treatment for Postpartum Depression (PPD)

Treatment for PPD should start by talking to your doctor about your individual needs. PPD may go away within the first three months of giving birth and you don’t want to wait too long to see if symptoms reduce, so reach out within two weeks if symptoms don’t subside. A combination of medication and psychotherapy as well as joining support groups with fellow new mothers can be extremely helpful in knowing you are not alone.

Seeking therapy and treatment quickly is your best solution to prevent serious conditions from occurring, such as severe postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis - both of which require more severe treatments like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to treat serious hallucinations, spiraling delusions, and overwhelming thoughts of suicide. Using psychotherapy and medication can help in various stages from month to month as symptoms flare due to hormonal fluctuations before your menstrual period.

Children are also affected by untreated PPD and may show signs of impaired cognitive development, frequent temper tantrums, disrupted sleep patterns, and life-long insecurities that could take years of therapy to overcome.

Remember that everything you are experiencing is valid and real. Nothing is wrong with you and you can’t blame yourself for what is out of your control.

If you believe you may be experiencing Postpartum Depression (PPD) or just need someone to talk to as a new parent, please reach out to us at KQH Mental Health Counseling. We are here to support you in therapy and treatment for depression to find relief and enjoy a new chapter in your life with your baby.

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