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Postpartum Depression vs. Baby Blues

Today, we tend to misuse or over generalize some mental health terms or diagnoses. Here is a

brief overview of the difference between ‘baby blues’ and a postpartum mood disorders. We’ve

also included tips and symptoms you and your partner can look for and be aware of to prevent

and notice when further support might be helpful or necessary.


80% of new moms usually between birth and 4 weeks experience baby blues; feeling down,

vulnerable, sad, worried, or emotionally dysregulated. The cause of this is a drop in hormone

levels post-delivery. Often things like going back to work, feeling inadequate as a mother or

about your birth experience, feeling trapped, isolated, overtired and even difficulty bonding with

the baby are all common and normal. Symptoms can include but are not limited to mood swings,

anxiety, irritability, insomnia, crying, nervousness, and general unhappiness. After several

weeks, a routine is established, your hormone levels stabilize, and the baby blues typically

disappear.


Furthermore, 20% of new mothers develop postpartum mood disorders. This typically takes place up to one year after birth. This is a medical problem. The dramatic shift in hormones can leave new moms eeling fatigued, anxious, or overwhelmed. Changes in blood pressure, blood volume, and your immune system take place. New physical, emotional, and mental life changes can bring on

certain postpartum mood disorders. Women with a mental health history or personal family

history of mental health are at higher risk. Symptoms can include but are not limited to insomnia

or sleeping too much, loss of appetite or overeating, nausea, lack of interest in activities, inability

to concentrate, severe mood swings, hyperactivity, lethargy, disorientation, confusion, excessive

crying, intrusive/repeating thoughts, hopelessness, lack of control, inability to care for yourself

or baby, loss of touch with reality. If you are experiencing any of this, it is best to see a medical

and/or mental health professional.


Things Dad can Do:

  • Ask him to help lighten your load (then take the help you’re offered!). Ask him to listen and encourage you to talk about your frustrations. Let him watch the baby so you have time on your own to rest or recharge. Make sure he knows who to call if symptoms seem to worsen. 

  • Dad’s your first line of defense in recognizing the symptoms are lasting longer than they should. He needs to know it’s OK to be worried about you and to call your obstetrician/mental health provider. If you discuss this before the birth, it will be easier for him to act if needed. He can also reach out to family and friends to help take care of the baby while you tackle this issue together and accompany you to your doctor/therapist appointments.


Resources:

  • Postpartum Support International | www.postpartum.net

  • Local Support Search | 800-944-4PPD (4773)

  • PPD Moms | www.1800ppdmoms.org | 1-800-PPD-MOMS | info@hopeline.com

  • The Mayo Clinic: Postpartum Depression | www.mayoclinic.org


Reference:


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