September 17, 2020 Medical Conditions

Postpartum Depression and the Baby Blues: What’s the Difference?

For many families, the birth of a child is a time of happiness and excitement. However, many parents struggle with the “baby blues” or, the more serious, postpartum depression.

It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of each, so you can get the proper treatment and support. It’s also important to understand that neither of these indicate a weakness nor something to be embarrassed of as a new parent (or a repeat parent). One in eight women experience symptoms of postpartum depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So how do you know if what you’re feeling is postpartum depression?

Baby Blues – more common than not.

50 to 80 percent of new mothers experience the “baby blues” during the first weeks after delivery. They may experience:

  • moodiness
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • fatigue

These common feelings – sometimes attributed to after-delivery hormonal changes – typically last only a few days and are gone within two weeks of the birth.

Postpartum Depression – identification and treatment are key.

10 to 20 percent of new mothers have “postpartum depression,” a more serious form of depression that may develop several weeks, months, or even into the first year after childbirth.

Women with postpartum depression may experience:

  • extreme sadness or anger
  • crying more often than usual
  • feelings of guilt, hopelessness, worthlessness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • fatigue
  • changes in eating habits
  • feeling disconnected from baby
  • inability to sleep

In some circumstances, fear of harming the baby, and suicidal thoughts can occur. It’s also possible for new fathers to experience postpartum depression. Left untreated, postpartum depression can last for over a year and can be quite disruptive to the family. Fortunately, treatments options are available.

What causes postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression may be the result of many factors. Evidence suggests that changes in hormones— estrogen, progesterone, thyroid—are involved. Complications during labor and delivery, having a “difficult baby,” stress and lack of emotional support may also contribute.

Additional risk factors include:

  • a personal or family history of depression or mood disorders
  • marital problems
  • unemployment of the mother or her partner
  • stressful life events.

What should you do if you think you are suffering from postpartum depression?

First, let your doctor know what you’ve been experiencing. Once your doctor is aware, he or she can help you determine the best form of support or treatment. This may include counseling from the physician or a mental health professional, involvement in a postpartum depression support group, medication, or a combination of these approaches.

Confidential, convenient resources are available to you.

If you would like to talk with a counselor about any concerns, call the CDPHP Behavioral Health Access Center at (518) 641-3600. We will provide you with a confidential referral to a specialist in your community.

Doctor On Demand

Doctor On Demand* lets you visit with a doctor by video 24/7 for both medical and mental health services, including treatment for depression and anxiety. Board-certified doctors can discuss your health history, review symptoms, and recommend treatment.

*Available with most plans. Check your member contract for details.

Learn More

You can talk one-on-one with a member of the CDPHP Care Team by calling 518-341-3466. They offer access to specially trained professionals who can work closely with your doctor and help you address your health needs. You may also be able to connect quickly with your CDPHP Care Team through the Valera Health smartphone app. With Valera, you can explore resources selected just for you, chat with a case manager, and receive reminders about your care and any upcoming appointments you may have scheduled.

Stay connected – to others and to yourself.

Remember to draw upon the support of family, friends and other support groups. During the baby’s first year, tune into your feelings. Be alert to signs of depression, anxiety, or stress. Discuss these symptoms with your medical provider as they can help get you to get back on track.

And remember, if you are experiencing postpartum depression symptoms, you are not alone! There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed of if you’re feeling anxious or depressed following the birth of your child.

Kelcey Young
About Author

Kelcey joined CDPHP in 2019 as Healthcare Communications Manager. She enjoys running (more fast walking lately), yoga, spending time with her family, and baking sweets. And she will always stop channel surfing on The Office re-runs. Kelcey earned a BS in Communications from SUNY Oneonta. She lives in Delmar with her husband, daughter, and sometimes-friendly cat, Daisy.

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