How to Tell the Difference Between the Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression

Bringing home a new baby is a big adjustment. There’s joy, sure, but there’s also often stress, anxiety, sadness, and tears. This range of emotions, often called the ‘baby blues,’ is totally normal. Most women experience some pretty significant mood swings as their hormones adjust post-birth.

For some women though, the stress and sadness lingers and begins to outweigh the positive feelings associated with parenthood. When this happens women might be diagnosed with postpartum depression. If you’re feeling sad, and aren’t quite sure if you’re experiencing the baby blues or postpartum depression, check out the list below for some indicators that you might be experiencing postpartum depression.

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{ MORE: This App May Help Us Understand Postpartum Depression and Save Lives }

1. Your symptoms last more than two weeks

The first couple weeks after birth are a weepy time for a lot of women. During this time it’s totally normal to experience a wide range of emotions and for your emotions to fluctuate throughout the day. If you’re experiencing these weepy feelings for more than two weeks, you may want to talk to your doctor about postpartum depression. 

2. Your symptoms interfere with daily functioning

If your negative feelings interfere with daily functioning and you find yourself unable to complete simple tasks due to feeling overwhelmed or overly anxious then you may be experiencing postpartum depression rather than the baby blues.

{ MORE: How Long Should You Wait to Get Pregnant Again? }

3. You don’t feel like you’ll ever feel better

Women who are experiencing the baby blues may recognize that their negative feelings will pass. Women experiencing postpartum depression though often feel as if they’re stuck and their feelings will never improve. If this is you, consider talking to your doctor.

Talking to your doctor about postpartum depression can feel scary. Many women hesitate to reach out to their doctor because they feel like they should be able to handle their feelings on their own or that they should be happy and satisfied with their new life. In reality, though, postpartum depression is common and you won’t be judged for getting help. Once you start to get the help you need you’ll be glad you reached out when you did!

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How to Tell the Difference Between the Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood and lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. ... More

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