What is Postpartum Depression? How it differs from “Baby Blues”?

The birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. The care of a newborn requires great effort and sleepless nights. This sometimes can lead to what is known as “Baby Blues” – a mild, short-lived depression. It can last for few days to weeks after childbirth.

Symptoms of Baby Blues include:

  • Mild depression
  • Mood swings
  • Irregular sleeping and eating patterns
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating

These are normal reactions to the hormonal changes and stress that having a baby brings. Baby Blues usually don’t require treatment.

Postpartum Depression (PPD), however, is a more serious type of depression that affects about one in 10 new mothers within the first year after the childbirth. If the PPD goes undetected or untreated, not only does the mother suffer, but the child is at high risk of developing emotional, behavioral and cognitive problems. Therefore, it is important to diagnose it early so proper treatment could be given.

Signs and Symptoms of PPD are more intense and longer lasting, eventually interfering with one’s ability to function. These include:

  • Constant fatigue
  • Lack of joy in life
  • A sense of emotional numbness or failure
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Lack of concern for yourself or your baby
  • Excessive concern for your baby
  • Less interest in sex
  • Severe mood swings
  • Impaired thinking or concentration
  • Insomnia

PPD also differs from another, more serious disorder called Postpartum Psychosis, a mental illness that require immediate medical attention. It a rare condition that develops within the first six weeks after delivery — the signs and symptoms are even more severe, which includes:

  • Fear of harming yourself or your baby
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Paranoia

Seek Medical Attention:

  • If the signs and symptoms of depression don’t fade after a few weeks or if they’re so severe that they interfere with your ability to complete everyday tasks. Call your doctor. Early intervention can speed your recovery.
  • If you suspect that you’re developing postpartum psychosis (seek medical attention immediately). Don’t wait and hope for improvement. Postpartum psychosis may lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviors.

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