The baby blues, or postpartum blues, are common and normal after childbirth. While postpartum depression is also common, it is more intense, and can interfere with a new mom’s ability to even perform daily tasks. So, how can you tell the difference between postpartum depression and the baby blues?
New motherhood is understandably scary and overwhelming for most women, but when these feelings take over and become more dominant than those related to general well-being, it is time to call your doctor.
If you are unsure whether your feelings are “normal” baby blues or are related to postpartum depression, here are a few ways to differentiate:
- - Usually occurs 2-3 days after childbirth
- - Feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious and upset
- - Possible anger towards partner, new baby, or other children
- - Crying for no evident reason
- - Problems sleeping, eating or making decisions
- - Questioning ability to care for a baby
- - Temporary aches and pains from childbirth and/or feeding
- - General fatigue due to interrupted sleep and late night feedings
- - Hesitancy and worry associated with letting others care for your baby
- - Commonly begins 1-3 weeks after childbirth, but can occur up to 1 year after
- - Continuous feelings of intense anxiety, sadness or despair
- - Inability to perform daily tasks
- - Feeling regretful about becoming a mother
- - Thoughts of harming yourself
- - Intrusive, continuous thoughts about your baby being harmed, affecting your ability to care for your baby
- - Lack of appetite or overeating, despite being full
- - Lack of motivation or desire to connect with others, while also isolating yourself from loved ones
- - Deep fatigue, which is not alleviated by resting
- - Continuous thoughts of never feeling better again
- - When any of these uncomfortable or vulnerable feelings last longer than 2-3 weeks, and particularly if they interfere with your ability to meet your or your baby’s basic needs
New motherhood is challenging for every woman, but that does not mean it should cause consistent misery and distress. If you are struggling to determine whether your postpartum feelings are “normal” or possibly associated with postpartum depression, contact your physician immediately. Help is waiting, and the physicians at WISH will provide assistance and direction specific to your needs.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to take the place of the doctor-patient relationship and any email is not appropriate for emergency care. To schedule an appointment, please call your doctor's primary office, listed on our Locations page. In case of emergency, we are available 24 hours a day.