What's the difference between postpartum depression and garden-variety baby blues? Some symptoms may overlap but the following tips can help distinguish between the two.
Having a baby is very exciting. Whether planned or a surprise, a baby changes many facets of life. Like the day after Christmas, it's easy to feel let down once the big event is over. The parents are left alone with a squalling baby and perhaps little idea of what to do next.
Parenting is far messier from the glowing reports of friends and the cherubic baby photos on social media. Parenting is exhausting and at times confusing. Why does the baby cry so much? What are we doing wrong? How can we carry on like this for months? Years? The stress of parenting can seem overwhelming.
Perhaps some aspects of the birth didn't go as planned. Maybe the baby's appearance isn't what the parents imagined. Or the baby exhibits signs of complications that the sonograms didn't show. It's difficult to let go of "baby dreams" for reality.
Once parents fall into the comfortable rut of rearing an infant, they may realize that some activities and friends no longer fit well in their new life. These losses hurt.
Through pregnancy and postpartum, women's hormones surge and subside dramatically, affecting moods.
Any of the above factors can contribute to baby blues or postpartum depression; however, baby blues is typified by brevity and lower severity than postpartum depression. Men and women experiencing baby blues feel more moderate and occasional feeling of sadness, poor coping or frustration.
Signs of postpartum depression can include prolonged and continual feelings of deep sadness, crying for no reason, moodiness, lethargy, exhaustion even after sleep, hopelessness, lack of attachment to the baby, fear, anger, severe changes in diet, sleep disruption (beyond meeting the baby's needs) and thoughts of harming one's self and/or the baby.
Seeking the camaraderie of other parents may help reduce baby blues. Taking the baby to walk outdoors or window shop at the mall can provide a much-needed change of scene. Moms especially need to ensure they receive enough time to spend alone, exercise, sleep, and doing hobbies they enjoy. Eating right and taking vitamins can also aid moms in recovering from birthing. Proper self care may seem difficult at first, so parents should enlist friends and family who offer to assist.
Talking with the OB/GYN or a mental health provider can help if it seems more serious than baby blues. Any person with thoughts of harming herself or another person should seek emergency medical care.