Baby blues vs postpartum depression!
Finally cradling the baby in your arms is supposed to give you the joy you never thought imaginable. The only problem is, that you feel none of the so-called mother’s bliss.
In fact, all you are is a big ball of sadness and anxiousness post-birth. Sounds like a case of baby blues… or could this be the onset of postpartum depression?
Baby blues vs postpartum depression
Is it normal to feel sad after giving birth? The answer is yes. Pregnancy and the period after childbirth can be vulnerable times for women.
Moms often experience severe biological, emotional, financial, and social changes during this time. Some women can also be at an increased risk for developing mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety.
Luckily, baby blues could go away in a few weeks’ time. Postpartum depression, on the other hand, could last as short as a few weeks, but in some cases, go on for months or even years.
The reason why people easily mistake baby blues for postpartum depression is because of the similarities in symptoms. But postpartum depression takes on a more serious condition, brought on by hormonal or physical changes, and the stress coupled with having a new baby.
Difference between postpartum depression vs baby blues
Recovering after birth can be overwhelming and challenging for your physical and mental health. It is normal to feel mixed emotions like sadness, irritability, and anxiety a couple of weeks after you give birth.
However, there are cases where those emotions may be symptoms of a more serious condition. It is important to know the difference between postpartum depression and baby blues.
Up to 80% of new mothers get what’s called the “baby blues”. It is a short-term dip in mood caused by all of the changes that come with a new baby.
These feelings often begin when your baby is just 2 or 3 days old, but moms likely feel better by the time their baby is 1 or 2 weeks old.
Symptoms you should watch out for baby blues
1. Mood swings and irritability or anger
Baby blues may simply make you feel irritable to a certain degree, but nothing a little comfort may cure – affection from the husband, a little ‘me’ time, or a simple indulgence like chocolate.
It makes you feel more out of control with your anger that mood swings become extreme, sometimes triggering thoughts of harming yourself or worse, your baby.
2. Loss of interest
In postpartum depression, you feel like you’ve lost all interest in things that used to get you up and going. You go about your day with a feeling like all joy and spirit have been sucked out of you.
You lack the appetite for life, you don’t want to see friends and family, and you don’t even feel the least bit interested to make love to your partner.
Baby blues vs postpartum depression. | Image from iStock
3. Reduced concentration
Concentration difficulty is a reduced ability to focus your thoughts on something. Reduced concentration can be related to difficulty staying awake, inattention, impulsiveness, intrusive thoughts or concerns, and overactivity.
This is the time when you just feel like spacing out at the moment. You are always not aware of the things happening around you.
4. Appetite Problems
A decrease in appetite occurs when you have a reduced desire to eat. It may also be known as a poor appetite or loss of appetite. So if you don’t feel like eating your favorite food, you might be having baby blues.
Other symptoms linked to baby blues are impatience, anxiety, restlessness, crying for no reason, and feelings of disappointment. These symptoms are the effect of hormonal changes you are experiencing after you give birth.
Baby blues usually go away on their own, even without treatment. Nevertheless, if you notice that your symptoms are getting more severe and taking too long to go away, maybe you are experiencing postpartum depression.
The use of the term postpartum recognizes that depression associated with having a baby often begins after childbirth.
Postpartum depression is a serious, but treatable medical illness involving feelings of extreme sadness, and severe anxiety, as well as changes in energy, sleep, and appetite. It can also carry risks for the mother and child.
Symptoms you should watch out for in postpartum depression
1. Severe drop in self-esteem
After giving birth, you start feeling like a worthless nobody. This is clearly a sign of postpartum depression, thoughts of inadequacy as an individual start to get to your head, making you lose esteem and drive like none of what you do is worth it.
If you feel like your self-esteem is taking a beating post-birth, surround yourself with people who love and care for you to validate your self-worth.
2. Fear that you are not a good mother
This thought can come to a mother’s head after birth. Confused and doubting themselves if they could raise their child properly. You will worry whether or not you are doing the right things with your child.
All mothers experienced this type of feeling but postpartum depression can lead to something severe.
Image from iStock
3. Avoiding family and friends
Moms who suffer from postpartum depression may have avoided their family and friends all the time. Not wanting to hear about their baby, moms isolate themselves from others.
With all the thoughts that are coming to the mother’s head, they tend to overthink. Overthinking is also a sign of postpartum depression that involves dwelling on how bad a mother is feeling and thinking about the things they can’t control.
Overthinking is also associated with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and borderline personality disorder. Some moms who deal with negative thoughts may experience body aches, headaches, and stomach problems.
5. You can’t – and don’t feel like – bonding with your baby
Postpartum depression makes you nothing short of indifferent toward your little one. When the sight of your own baby just makes you want to run the other way instead of overwhelming you with that motherly glow.
This is a red flag for postpartum depression. Studies have shown how postpartum depression could have long-term behavioral and emotional repercussions on the baby.
Other symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Resentment and extreme mood swings
- Uncontrolled crying
- Fear of harming yourself or your baby
- Lack of concentration
- Feeling confused or having difficulty remembering details
- Sadness and hopelessness
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
Those mothers of lower socioeconomic status are more likely to experience postpartum depression but less likely to get treatment for it. But any woman, regardless of social status, can be affected by this mental illness.
That is why it is essential to seek professional help if you are experiencing the said symptoms. According to St. Luke’s Health Organization, only a healthcare provider can correctly diagnose postpartum depression due to a wide range of symptoms.
When any of these symptoms come to play, or if you just feel unusually out of it even with your new title as ‘Mom,’ then immediately seek the advice of your health practitioner for possible medication, and create a solid support system to help you through this tough time, whether it’s the baby blues or diagnosed postpartum depression.
This is when a baby needs all the love and care that they can easily get from you as a mom so making sure you are physically and emotionally healthy will give you the best reward you can ever ask for – invaluable time with your baby.
Paternal postpartum depression
Yes, you read it right! Postpartum depression can also affect fathers. New fathers can also experience postpartum depression.
Risk factors of getting postpartum depression in new fathers:
- Have a history of depression before becoming a father
- Experience relationship problems
- Those who are struggling with finances
Symptoms of postpartum depression in fathers may include sadness, fatigue, anxiety, and changes in sleeping and eating patterns. Paternal postpartum depression can also have symptoms like postpartum depression affecting mothers. In addition, it can also have the same negative impact on the relationship of the couple and the child’s development.
Every parent who is experiencing the symptoms of postpartum depression needs to consult a doctor, regardless of gender. There is nothing wrong with being vulnerable and seeking professional help from doctors. Treatments and support given to mothers with postpartum depression can also help treat postpartum depression in fathers.
4 tips to eliminate the fear of not being a good parent
Mothers can be overwhelmed with so much love and tend to ask themselves,
“What if I fail?” “What if I don’t become a great mom?”
These thoughts are normal for parents, but here are some tips to eliminate the fear of not being a good parent from Wilrieke Sophia.
1. Take care of yourself
As a parent, there is a lot to give. Attention, care, love, emotional security, and many more you could ask for. Parents should not be forced, instead, they should start on themselves first. Instead of dealing with these stresses alone, seek out help.
If you don’t have any storage left for energy and love, they will run empty very quickly. Take time to reflect because the best mom is a happy mom. You may find it helpful when you schedule some dedicated “me time” once in a while.
2. Accept being not perfect
Humans are not made to be perfect, and so are parents. Let go of the surreal expectation for yourself, especially for moms. Everyone is experiencing a growth process in life. You don’t need to be the perfect parent, the willingness to accept their faults and learn from them is the best you can do.
3. Exercise when you can
Researchers in Australia explains that exercise may have an antidepressant effect on women with postpartum depression. In particular, walking with a baby in a stroller might be an easy way to get in some steps and breathe fresh air.
In a study published in Mental Health and Physical Activity, walking was found to be a statistically significant way to ease depression.
4. Resist Isolation
There are times when mothers want to be alone and isolate themselves from others. A study published by the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry shows that talking about your feelings with others can help lighten up your mood.
Researchers also discovered that new mothers had lower levels of depression after regularly speaking with experienced mothers who had previously experienced postpartum as well.
How common is postpartum depression?
According to Cleveland Clinic, postpartum depression is common. 75% of people experience baby blues after delivery. And 15% of that 75% will develop postpartum depression.
On the other hand, according to Web MD, up to 80% of new moms are affected by baby blues. It usually begins when the baby is just two or three days old.
Furthermore, women that get postpartum depression are about 10%. It is possible to have postpartum depression if you already experience depression before pregnancy.
In addition, you will most likely have this mental illness if you have a family member who experiences postpartum depression.
These figures show that you are not the only mother who experience this battle. You are not alone in these trying times, and there is nothing wrong with seeking help.
When to see your doctor?
Although most moms experience the “baby blues” in their first several weeks after childbirth, PPD is marked by deeper and longer-lasting feelings of anxiety and agitation. These feelings can get worse and become chronic depression without medical help.
It’s better to make an appointment with your doctor or therapist if you notice feelings of depression after birth, especially if they don’t fade after a couple of weeks or get worse with time.
How can you help a person experiencing postpartum depression?
To help someone who’s battling postpartum depression, first, you must understand the difference between postpartum depression vs baby blues.
Other things that you can do to help:
- Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Encourage your friend, family member, or partner to seek medical help.
- Help them with day-to-day tasks like running an errand or cleaning the house
- Offer to set up an appointment with a therapist or other mental health provider
- Go with them to therapy and show support for their healing journey
Ways to prevent postpartum depression
You play a great role in helping yourself avoid getting postpartum depression. First, you have to set realistic expectations for yourself and your baby.
It is important not to put too much pressure on yourself as a new mom. In addition, you may also limit the visitors you accommodate when you first go home.
Other things that you can do to prevent postpartum depression from affecting your life and your baby:
- Try to have some rest. Sleep when your baby is asleep.
- Have a break and take time to get out of the house and have a walk
- Avoid isolating yourself. It is important to communicate with your loved ones.
- Take time to nurture your relationship with your partner.
- Expect that there will be good days and also bad days
- Keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with seeking help. Ask for help from your friends, family, and partner.
Additional report by Sofia Joco and Jobelle Macayan
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