Childbearing can be challenging, and different women respond differently to it. While some mothers get excited after childbirth, some fall into depression as they navigate this significant life transition. Depression that occurs after childbirth is known as postpartum depression. However, some women also get depressed during pregnancy.
The good news is that depression during and after pregnancy is treatable. But how do you know you have postpartum depression?
First, let us clear the air between postpartum depression and baby blues.
What is baby blues?
Hardly any nursing mother is happy all the time. It's normal to feel frustrated and sad and needing to put the baby down sometimes. As a new mom, you may find yourself happy one moment and crying the next, feeling confused, sad, and overwhelmed by this new transition. This is known as baby blues.
Baby blues are hormonal changes that may cause sadness, anxiety, and restlessness in the first couple of weeks after childbirth. It's normal and isn't a cause for concern. Up to 80% of moms will experience baby blues caused by their hormone levels dropping after childbirth.
But postpartum depression is more severe, can be more long-term, and impacts the mother's daily function and care for her child.
The difference between postpartum depression and baby blues
While baby blues typically last only two weeks after childbirth and is caused by falling hormonal levels, postpartum depression lasts longer and requires treatment. The sadness of baby blues comes and goes momentarily, but the feeling of worthlessness from depression can last days and weeks in a row.
Depression is more than just a feeling of sadness or worry that comes and goes. In fact, everyone feels sad sometimes. Depression is a serious mental health disorder that can last weeks or months and affects daily function.
You get less productive in whatever you do and may not even have the energy to get things done at all. In this case, caring for the baby.
Postpartum depression is clinical depression accompanied by the anxieties surrounding motherhood and baby care.
- A lasting feeling of emptiness and sadness
- Loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
- Difficulty concentrating
- Change in appetite
- Suicidal thoughts
- Muscle ache and other kinds of pain
Symptoms of Postpartum depression
The symptoms of postpartum depression may include the following in addition to the symptoms of depression:
- Doubting your ability to care for the baby
- Extreme worry and anxiety
- Crying frequently
- Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
- Withdrawal from loved ones
How common is postpartum depression?
About 1 in 8 women experience postpartum depression, according to the CDC. On the other hand, up to 80% (8 out of 10) of women experience baby blues.
Further studies also show that the rate of depression amongst women during childbirth is on the rise. It increased by seven between the years 2000 and 2015.
How to treat baby blues
You don't need to see the doctor if you have baby blues. Here's what you can do to feel better:
- Get enough sleep and rest when your baby is napping.
- Eat good foods that you like. You'll tend to feel happier and more energetic
- When you feel sad, take a walk outside. You may take the baby along if they're awake. Fresh air and sunshine can work wonders for your body.
- Stop fussing about the chores; they'll get done one way or the other. Just focus on you and your baby.
How to treat postpartum depression
Every pregnant woman and new mom needs support. The support shouldn't be only physical but also emotional. Women need a sense of connection more during this time as they sometimes feel overwhelmed by the thought of responsibility for the baby and the drastic life change.
If you are currently experiencing postpartum depression, see your doctor or make an appointment to discuss it with a Advanced Practice Registered Nurse as quickly as possible. Don't wait for your next check-up with the doctor. So much could be at stake, including your welllbeing and that of the child.
Most people get better soon after they begin treatment, and getting better is the best thing you can do for yourself and the baby at this point. Just ensure you follow up on whatever medication or treatment suggestion your health care provider offers.