So, as a therapist who works with postpartum moms, I cringe a little when I hear a comment like "That mom just has a case of the blues." Okay, if I'm being completely honest, I do a whole lot more than cringe....I get pretty mad! And here is why...
The baby blues and postpartum depression are two completely different things!
When you tell a mom who is suffering with postpartum depression that she has "the blues" it minimizes her experience. It can also prevent her from reaching out and getting the help she desperately needs. When you tell a mom "It's only the blues", she hears "suck it up, all moms go through this." And she thinks, "What's wrong with me that I can't handle this?"
Okay, I will get off my soap box now. Promise.
So what, then, are the baby blues?
The baby blues are very real and impact 80% of new moms. Typically a new mom will start to experience symptoms a week or so after delivery. Symptoms include: tearfulness, irritability, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed. A new mom may feel this way for 2-3 weeks and then the symptoms self-resolve, they go away on their own.
So, how is that different than postpartum depression?
Another good question!
Postpartum depression affects 1 in 7 new moms. It is the most common complication of childbirth! Symptoms most often start 2-3 weeks following delivery, and peak around month 2 or 3. However, symptoms of postpartum depression can start anytime within the first year after having a baby. Common symptoms include feeling sad, crying, loss of appetite, insomnia, suicidal thoughts, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, anger or irritability.
The good news? With help these conditions are very treatable. The quicker the symptoms are addressed, the quicker the new mom will feel better. If someone you know is suffering through postpartum depression, encourage them to talk to their doctor or see a therapist who has specialized training in maternal mental health. There are also local support groups that a mom can attend. A great resource to find help in your area is Postpartum Support International.
If you know a new mom that is struggling, tell her that she does not need to suffer in silence! She is not alone, and with help she will get better!
Read other posts about this topic here.