Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression: What's the Difference?

Having a new baby is an incredible and exciting experience. You may frequently hear it is love at first sight, and that you will develop an instantaneous bond with your baby. In certain cases that can be true, but childbirth can also be a very overwhelming experience, particularly if it is a difficult delivery or the baby is experiencing health issues.

Between 70-80% of new mothers experience something called the “baby blues”. It is thought to happen due to the hormone changes that occur during pregnancy and again after the baby is born.  In the beginning, baby blues can look like postpartum depression. You may experience mood swings, crying jags, insomnia and irritability. The major difference is that these symptoms ease up within 2-4 weeks, while postpartum depression symptoms are more severe and last longer.

Some symptoms that may indicate you have Postpartum Depression versus baby blues are:

  1. Feeling unable to care for your newborn or yourself
  2. Withdrawal from your partner, family and friendships
  3. Feeling unable to bond with your baby
  4. Inability to sleep even when your baby is eating and sleeping well
  5. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  6. Suicidal thoughts

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, seek help from a qualified mental health professional, your medical doctor, or visit your local hospital emergency room immediately. It is important to have a proper screening and receive the proper treatment.

If you find yourself experiencing any of the above first five symptoms for more than two weeks, talk to your doctor.  An assessment for Postpartum Depression can lead to the proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations and supports.

There is help!  Don’t be afraid to ask for it.  Postpartum depression is treatable.

Brittany Ruane, LCSW