Baby Blues, Anxiety or Postpartum Depression?
By the 3rd to 5th day after delivery, roughly 60–80 percent of women will experience the ‘baby blues.’ Symptoms include: crying easily, having difficulty concentrating, feeling sad, worrying about baby, feeling crabby, feeling tired all the time, feeling moody and/or having changes in appetite (increased or decreased). This mild depression or anxiety is caused by the drop in hormones after birth, physical exhaustion, lack of sleep and the new challenges mothers face. Fortunately, the ‘baby blues’ are temporary, with the symptoms decreasing within 2 weeks. Sometimes symptoms do not go away, become more intense or start later. In all these cases, a woman may be experiencing postpartum depression (PPD). PPD is like the ‘baby blues,’ but the feelings are stronger, last longer and interfere more with daily functioning. These feelings can be so overwhelming that a woman can’t get out of bed or care for her baby. In rare cases, the depression or anxiety is so serious that a woman has difficulty telling what is real and what is not. One in ten mothers experience postpartum depression.
The good news: postpartum depression is very treatable. You do not have to experience all of the above symptoms to be suffering from PPD. If you recognize yourself in the previous statements, call your health care provider. Do not wait until your 4–6 week appointment.
Don’t feel ashamed or weak; this did not happen because you are a bad mother.
Depression is a physical illness, not a character weakness. Your provider can help you decide what treatment is best. Prescription medications can help. Some are safe for breast-feeding mothers. Your provider may refer you to a counselor.
If you need help please call 1-800-944-4773.