Having a baby can be one of the most joyous experiences in a woman’s life, but can also be a stressful period. With all of the physical changes, hormone fluctuations, and psychological changes present it is not uncommon to experience extreme fatigue, low mood, mood swings, irritability, or increased anxiety. It is so common that we think almost 80% of women experience this condition referred to as the baby blues.
The good news is that the baby blues is temporary, lasting approximately two weeks for most people. It also rarely requires any formal intervention and usually responds to increased support and reassurance.
In contrast, postpartum depression tends to be more severe and can be characterized by the following:
- low mood
- decreased interests in activities that were once enjoyed
- low energy
- low self-esteem and doubts about the ability to be a good mom
- increase or decrease in sleep or poorer sleep quality
- poor focus, memory, or concentration
- increase or decrease in appetite
- mood swings
- trouble bonding with the baby
- thoughts of harm to self or baby
Unlike baby blues, Postpartum depression typically requires treatment. Treatment is commonly determined based upon the severity of symptoms, mom’s breastfeeding status, family history, etc.
In someone with mild to moderate depression, the mother may decide to pursue talk therapy only to deal with depressive symptoms. In more moderate to severe cases, a combination of antidepressant medication and talk therapy may be recommended.