While the birth of a child can certainly be an exciting time, it can also be challenging, and it’s not uncommon for some new moms to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and worried. Nicknamed “the baby blues,” these feelings typically resolve as hormone levels return to normal.
But sometimes, feelings can persist — or even get worse — which can indicate a more persistent and potentially more dangerous condition called postpartum depression (PPD).
At Bowman Medical Group in Beverly Hills, California, our team offers compassionate, patient-centered treatment for depression, including postpartum depression. In this post, learn the differences between the baby blues and PPD.
Understanding the “baby blues”
When you’re pregnant, your body goes through a lot of changes, including hormonal shifts. These changes can affect your mood and cause feelings of sadness and unhappiness. Loss of sleep during the last few weeks of pregnancy can take a toll, too, along with the extreme rigors of delivery.
It’s estimated that as many as 80% of new moms experience these feelings, but the good news is, they tend to lessen over time, especially as routines get established and there’s more opportunity to rest.
For most women, the “baby blues” taper off over the first month as they begin to feel more comfortable with their new responsibilities, and especially once the new family member adopts a more normal sleep routine.
What to know about postpartum depression
Postpartum depression might initially feel like the baby blues, but it’s actually much more serious and long-lasting. In fact, some women with PPD can begin developing symptoms of depression while they’re still pregnant, which is a condition called prenatal depression.
Women with postpartum depression have more severe or intense symptoms — so severe and pervasive, their symptoms can interfere with daily activities, including caring for themselves or their newborn. Roughly 1 in 7 new moms suffers from PPD, with symptoms that can include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiousness, or pointlessness
- Moodiness or irritability
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Problems focusing or concentrating
- Difficulty making decisions
- Sleep problems
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Headaches or other aches and pains
- Belly pain or digestive upset
- Feelings of guilt, helplessness, or inadequacy
- Difficulty bonding with the newborn
- Thoughts about harming oneself or others
While baby blues clear up on their own, PPD requires medical treatment to overcome.
In general, if you have any symptoms of depression after giving birth, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor. Symptoms that last more than a couple of weeks can be a sign of PPD, and the sooner you seek treatment, the faster you can feel better. Even if you don’t have PPD, scheduling a visit with our team can give you peace of mind and help you learn important coping strategies.
If you have symptoms of sadness, hopelessness, or other signs of depression at any time during or after your pregnancy, don’t delay seeking care. To learn how we can help, call 310-276-4003 to book an appointment with Bowman Medical Group today.