Postpartum Depression or the Baby Blues? What’s the Difference?

Having the blues after giving birth is very common, but if the sadness lingers more than two weeks it’s time for a check in.

You may be at risk of postpartum depression, known as PPD.

“Everyone is at risk for PPD,” said Laurie McKechnie, a nurse practitioner at Lynn Women’s Health, a gynecology and obstetrics practice affiliated with Lahey Health, who gave a Facebook Live interview on the condition. “There are some factors that might aggravate it for one person or another.”

Symptoms to watch out for are extreme exhaustion, sad thoughts and a loss in appetite, she said.

More extreme symptoms may include mood swings, withdrawing from loved ones and thoughts of harming oneself or her baby, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

The symptoms often get mixed up with the “baby blues,” or feelings of sadness caused by a shift in estrogen and progesterone after a baby is born. The baby blues is said to affect 80 percent of new mothers. And these are also feelings very common among new moms – feeling extra tired or anxious from taking care of an infant.

The difference with postpartum depression is that it doesn’t go away. And the American Psychological Association estimates 1 in 7 women suffer from PPD.

“With my patients, I want to make sure they’re having more good days than bad days,” McKechnie said. “It’s important to screen during pregnancy and after at the six week checkup.

Symptoms can onset from birth to a year later. No one knows the exact cause of postpartum depression, but experts know it’s usually a stew of hormones, stress, sleep deprivation and lifestyle change.

A new mom’s support system – having close friends or loved ones nearby – can determine her risk for postpartum depression. And if you’ve had depression in the past you’re at greater risk, but it doesn’t mean you’ll get PPD for sure.

One thing is certain, awareness has been helping more moms cope with this mood disorder. Celebrities have been openly talking about their battles with postpartum depression, including Chrissy Teigen, who penned an essay about it for Glamour Magazine.

Treatments for PPD can range from talk therapy to antidepressants. Your doctor or healthcare provider will be able to determine the best course of action.


*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

MORE IN Live Well