Baby Blues v. Postpartum Depression: What’s the difference?

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Becoming a parent is a major life transition. Although it can be a joyful experience for families, it also comes with a significant amount of physical and emotional changes. The transition to parenthood is challenging, regardless of whether you are welcoming your first child or your last of many. With this blog post, we hope to shed some light on the difference between the “Baby Blues” and Postpartum Depression, and how you can find help.

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Baby Blues v.  Postpartum Depression: What’s the difference?

Any new parent can be affected by the “Baby Blues” or Postpartum Depression. For the birth parent, there are many obvious physical and hormonal changes that happen right after the birth of a child.

Bringing a new child home can be stressful, however, for everyone in the family, as it often requires major adjustments in life activities, including sleep schedules, work, diet, exercise, and changes in daily routines.  There are also adjustments that relate to the family dynamic or how the family relates to one another as everyone, including siblings, adjust to a new family member.

Often, communication can break down and there can be an increase in worry about the health and safety of the infant and mother. All of these aspects are natural experiences, adjustments, and stressors of what it means to become a parent. It is not uncommon for people to wonder if they are suffering from Postpartum Depression or if instead it is the “Baby Blues.”

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Postpartum Depression is classified as a mood disorder that can affect how people feel after their first child is born. Often, people can experience a range of symptom severity and can have prolonged (more than 2 weeks) symptoms that include a low mood, irritability, difficult sleeping, fatigue, feelings of anxiousness, difficulty forming a bond with the newborn, and reservations about the ability to care for the new baby. When experiencing this type of depression, it can interfere with daily activities and make it increasingly difficult to complete various tasks.

If Postpartum Depression is untreated, it can worsen and interfere with a person’s life significantly. This does not only prevail right after the birth of a child, but may come surface weeks to months after the child is born.

In comparison, the “baby blues” is what many parents also experience, but it differs from Postpartum Depression because it is more moderate and short-lived. The “baby blues” typically leads to feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious, or unhappy, but it does not last for an extended period of time. Often, it is considered “normal” in the transitioning stage to looking after a newborn. Eventually, the “baby blues” will fade and parents will adjust while Postpartum Depression does not.

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While an accurate diagnosis is outside the scope of this blog post, if you believe you are suffering from Postpartum Depression, it can be highly beneficial to seek help from a trained mental health professional. 

on what you may be feeling. The obstacles are inevitable in becoming a new parent and it can be hard on everyone. It is so important that new parents are able to take care of themselves before looking after another life.

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How do I get help?

Many parents are able to benefit from the treatment that is offered for a Postpartum Depression diagnosis which includes psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. If you believe you or someone you love are currently in a suffering state of Postpartum Depression, you can reach out to family and friends for support, lean on your supportive partner, join a new moms support group, or seek psychotherapy services. There is a significant amount of resources aimed at helping parents who are struggling and it can be comforting to be aware at the very least of all the resources that are available.

Please see the links below for more information about Postpartum Depression:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/perinatal-depression/index.shtml

https://www.apa.org/pi/women/resources/reports/postpartum-depression

Coronado Psych
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