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If you’re struggling with feelings of sadness after the birth of your baby, know that you are not alone. Find out whether you are experiencing “baby blues” or the more serious postpartum depression – and learn how to get support.
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In a time that's supposed to be filled with joy, many of my patients are shocked to find that they are actually feeling sad and isolated following the birth of their baby. If this is you, you are not alone. Between 40 and 80% of new mothers suffer from the “baby blues,” and upwards of 10% develop the more serious postpartum depression.
The symptoms of both baby blues and postpartum depression are the same: feeling down or depressed, having no interest in doing things you normally enjoy, crying without knowing why, and having trouble sleeping at night or staying awake during the day. The difference between the two conditions comes down to timing and intensity. Baby blues typically start in the first week after birth and don't usually last more than two weeks. Postpartum depression usually begins a bit later, between four to eight weeks after birth, and lasts longer – more than two weeks. Baby blues usually improve with increased sleep and support, but postpartum depression typically persists. Please see your doctor if you're experiencing symptoms of depression for more than two weeks, if you feel like you can't take care of your baby or yourself, or if you're having any thoughts of harming your baby or yourself.
Treatments for postpartum depression today are very effective, but remember that it will take time to feel the difference. There are three main treatment options: individual therapy, for one-on-one counseling; mom's groups, which can be very helpful to draw support from other women who are going through the same thing, and antidepressant medications. Regardless of which treatment route you choose, it usually takes three to four weeks of treatment to feel better. Don't despair – postpartum depression is common, and medical professionals today are more aware of the condition. Many women have worked through postpartum depression, and if it happens to you, you will too.
Video production by Paige Bierma.