Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression

(Originally Posted on May 20, 2015)

If you recently had a baby, your emotions are all over the place. How do you know if what you are feeling is normal or its something more serious that you should talk to your doctor about? Women tend to be very hard on themselves, and images of perfection are all around us on television and social media. We want to fill the role of motherhood seamlessly and beautifully and are pressured to look and feel the part immediately.

Truthfully, it takes many women a little while to adjust to their new life as a mother and some women have an extremely hard time with their emotions after delivery. Postpartum depression (PPD) has recently received more media attention lately and that’s a good thing. The added interest has brought to light that post partum depression is real and it is nothing to be ashamed of. So, how do you know if you are suffering from either the baby blues or postpartum depression?

Many women suffer from a bit of baby blues. You might be more emotional and more irritable, but it is generally short lived and it does not affect your daily activities or your ability to care for yourself and your baby too much. The baby blues can be alleviated by receiving a little help caring for the baby and gets better with rest and some sleep. If you are experiencing the baby blues, make sure you are taking care of yourself. This means getting enough rest, eating properly, exercise, and getting help with the baby when you need it. Do not feel guilty that you feel sad and know that these feelings are common and will soon pass.

Postpartum depression is more serious and lasts longer. It can happen anytime in the first three months after delivery. While almost eighty percent of new mothers will experience some form of the baby blues, only around ten percent will suffer from postpartum depression. Symptoms include anxiety, sadness, tearfulness, anger, and negative feelings like guilt and hopelessness.

Women with PPD often have a very hard time falling back asleep. They do not enjoy activities they once enjoyed and while every new mother is tired, a woman suffering from PPD will be especially fatigued and may not be able to sleep. Women with extreme PPD may even be in danger of hurting themselves or their babies. It can be an extremely serious condition that requires immediate attention.  

The most important thing you can do is to speak up. Tell your doctor about your symptoms and they will determine what can be done to help you recover. Many women feel their postpartum symptoms are too insignificant to bring up or feel like a failure as a mother because they feel so bad. This is simply not true. Some forms of PPD can be treated with advice and lifestyle changes. Other cases might need a prescription for antianxiety or depression medications for a short period of time. Your doctor will decide which treatment is best for you.

If you feel that you are suffering from the baby blues or PPD, please call our office and make an appointment at (561)-434-0111.

Dr. Joy Cavalaris

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