The baby blues isn’t the same as postpartum depression, but they can overlap. Neither makes the sufferer a bad person.
Postpartum depression is not the same as what is colloquially known as the “baby blues”. But that doesn’t mean that the baby blues aren’t as real as postpartum depression. The birth of a child is a life-changing moment. It’s also overwhelming, incredibly grueling, and corresponds with a rapid shift in parental hormone levels. All of these things can contribute to feelings of high emotion, frustration, and irritability. But understanding how the underlying emotions are connected to postpartum depression and the baby blues can lead to much better mental health outcomes for everybody in the family.
“Baby blues are very common, and occur in approximately 80 percent of postpartum periods,” explains Crystal Clancy, the executive director of community engagement for Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Minnesota, and the co-coordinator of the Minnesota Chapter of Postpartum Support International. “It can be helpful to let people know that this is ‘normal’ so that they can expect it.”
Postpartum Depression or Baby Blues?
- The baby blues are common – 80% women experience postpartum blues, usually corresponding to changes in hormone levels during milk production.
- The baby blues are not postpartum depression – although they may have similar symptoms, the baby blues usually fade after two to five days, though can last up to two weeks. Postpartum depression lasts at least two weeks, and sometimes months.
- Postpartum depression symptoms – sufferers experience loss of enjoyment, isolation, a sense of detachment from the baby, and violent or intrusive thoughts, as well as milder symptoms shared with the baby blues, like mood swings, sorrow, anger, anxiety, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping.
- Dads can get it, too – dads also experience hormone shifts and postpartum depression.
- It can be treated – Not every episode of depression is dangerous for the baby, but professional care is worth it for the parent’s sake as well as the child’s.
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