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Baby Blues Versus Postpartum Depression: When to Seek Help


Sad young mom holding baby

In the early days after giving birth, it’s completely normal to feel as if you’re riding an emotional rollercoaster. Sleep is in short supply, hormones are in flux, and the new demands of family life can leave you feeling overwhelmed. You may be worried, anxious, exhausted or weepy. And that’s okay. Most new moms experience the “baby blues” to some degree.

But how long should you expect to feel this way? How do you know if what you’re experiencing is just the “baby blues” or if it’s something more serious, like postpartum depression? When is it time to reach out for help?

Give yourself a little time

Everyone is different, but for many new moms, the baby blues subside about two weeks after delivery. If you experience troubling postpartum symptoms beyond those first couple of weeks, or if symptoms are getting worse and making it difficult to take care of your baby, talk to your doctor.

At any point, if you have a suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming your baby, do not wait! This is an important warning sign and requires immediate action. Ask your partner or a loved one for help taking care of the baby, and contact your doctor or call 911.

Learn the signs

Postpartum depression is a serious medical condition that can last for months, impacting not only you, but your baby and your loved ones, as well.

Symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Feeling sad, depressed and/or crying a lot
  • Increased irritability, feeling “on edge”
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Diminished appetite or overeating
  • Inability to fall asleep even when baby is sleeping
  • Poor concentration, “brain fog”
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or incompetence
  • Worrying constantly about the well-being of the baby, having intrusive thoughts
  • Feeling numb and void of feelings, no attachment or interest in the baby
  • Feeling inadequate to cope with a new infant
  • Hopelessness, thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
  • Frequent headaches, stomachaches, feeling of racing heart, constant fatigue

Do not be afraid to recognize and acknowledge these symptoms. Postpartum depression is common, affecting about 1 in 7 new mothers. Mothers with a history of depression or anxiety disorders are at higher risk.

Most of the time, depressive episodes happen within the first 1-4 months after childbirth. However, postpartum depression may occur at any point up to 12 months after delivery. 

The good news is that postpartum depression is a treatable condition and help is available! Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, as it shows you are willing to do what it takes to get better — for yourself, your baby and your family.

Specialized clinic addresses the needs of new moms

The SLUCare Women’s Reproductive Mental Health Clinic offers psychiatric support for women with mental health issues related to childbirth and postpartum depression. We evaluate, diagnose and treat postpartum depression and anxiety disorders, with a personalized approach that weighs the risks and benefits of various types of therapy for both you and your baby. Our goal is to help you successfully manage your symptoms, so you feel better mentally, physically and emotionally — confident in your ability to care for yourself and your growing family.

For an appointment or to learn more, call 314-977-4440.