Baby Blues vs Postpartum Depression: Understanding the Difference

When a baby is born, a woman’s entire life can turn upside down. While having a baby is wonderful, changes women face after giving birth aren’t always exciting. This includes mood changes that can rise to the level of postpartum depression.

Heavy hormonal fluctuations, new responsibilities, lack of sleep, and many other factors contribute to something we call “baby blues.” Roughly 70% of new mothers suffer from this condition, the symptoms of which include sadness, anxiety, fatigue, frequent crying, and moodiness.

For the majority of women, baby blues last for about a couple of weeks. However, for some of them, the condition worsens, turning into postpartum (also called peripartum) depression. Dealing with it may require more than family support and time. Certain types of postpartum depression (PPD) warrant medical attention.

Let’s take a closer look at how baby blues differ from PPD and how to catch the problem before it becomes severe.

What is the Peripartum Period?

The peripartum period is the period shortly before, during, and after giving birth. It can begin as early as the last month of pregnancy and last for a couple of weeks after birth. Baby blues occur during the peripartum period. At that time, a woman can experience:

  • Emotional highs and lows
  • Sadness and moodiness
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Poor concentration

If the symptoms of baby blues continue longer than 2 to 3 weeks after delivery, it could mean that you are suffering from postpartum depression.

Is it Normal to Have Baby Blues?

Seven out of 10 new mothers experience baby blues. This condition is absolutely normal, but only if it goes away after a few weeks. In most cases, you can battle baby blues with adequate support from your partner and family.

While the exact cause of baby blues is currently unknown, scientists believe that it’s related to hormone changes before, during, and after delivery. When hormones start settling down, the problem tends to go away naturally.

Can Your Partner Have Baby Blues?

Yes, partners can experience baby blues. In fact, about 10% of partners develop in the first three months after the baby is born. When this condition occurs, the partner can feel similar symptoms, including:

  • Feeling angry and moody
  • Losing interest in work and hobbies
  • Pulling away and trying to be alone
  • Having insomnia

Fathers can suffer from baby blues because their hormones change as well. The birth of a baby can stimulate a drop in testosterone levels. Meanwhile, stress hormones like cortisol can rise. Just like for a woman, a man’s baby blues can turn into depression.

A father holding a newborn baby and turning his head towards the baby's mother, who is standing behind him with her hands on his shoulders in an embrace.

Family support is vital during the peripartum period.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression or peripartum depression is a depression that occurs at the latest stages of pregnancy or after childbirth.

The pregnancy, delivery, and post-delivery period can be extremely stressful for a woman. Besides struggling with hormonal fluctuations, mothers have to deal with emotional, financial, and social changes. This makes a woman highly susceptible to mental issues such as anxiety and depression.

Types of Postpartum Depression

Different types of PPD exist. The common conditions include:

  • Postpartum blues — this is the scientific term for baby blues. The condition usually begins a few days after delivery and lasts for about two weeks. The common symptoms are mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep problems.
  • Postpartum anxiety — severe and chronic bouts of anxiety that last from weeks to several months. The common symptoms are nervousness, dizziness, nausea, and constant worry about something bad happening to the baby.
  • Postpartum panic disorder — this type of postpartum anxiety can involve such symptoms as racing heart, weakness, dizziness, and hyperventilation.
  • Postpartum depression — this condition is much more serious than baby blues. It can last for weeks or months after delivery. Symptoms can range from slight to severe. Dealing with this condition may require psychotherapy and antidepressants.
  • Postpartum psychosis — This severe condition is rare. Symptoms often occur right after delivery. Their intensity is much higher than with PPD. A woman may feel agitated, confused, paranoid, and delusional. She can experience intense shame, insomnia, and hallucinations. This condition requires immediate medical attention since a woman may try to commit suicide or harm the baby.

How Common is PPD?

One in seven mothers experiences PPD. It doesn’t mean that all of them suffer from severe cases of depression. Some women conquer the condition quickly while others may need medical assistance.

The common occurrence of PPD called for USPSTF (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force) to recommend that clinicians refer “postpartum persons who are at a high risk of depression” to counseling interventions.

What is the Difference Between Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression?

Baby blues are the initial stage of PPD. For the majority of women, this period ends a few weeks after delivery when hormones start settling down. However, for some parents, PPD can last for months or even years, turning into a mentally debilitating condition.

Risk factors for developing PPD include:

  • Personal or family history of depression
  • Lack of proper social support
  • Conflicts in the family
  • Depression during pregnancy

To keep baby blues from turning into postpartum depression, it’s imperative to monitor your condition, speak with your doctor, and get as much rest as possible. Ignoring baby blues entirely could lead to serious consequences for both the mother and the baby.

What Can I Do to Aid My Peripartum Period?

To help yourself stay healthy and avoid postpartum depression after the baby is born, you need to take good care of yourself. Consider the following steps:

  • Take advantage of all the support you can get. Don’t feel ashamed or uncomfortable asking for assistance.
  • Arrange for someone to help you with cooking or bring you food for at least the first month after birth.
  • Simplify your routine as much as possible. Cross anything that’s not vital to your family’s health and well-being off the list.
  • Make sure your space is highly functional and works for you, even if you have to move some furniture or deal with excessive clutter.
  • Take care of your health as much as possible. Eat well. Try to stay active. Don’t miss doctor’s appointments even if the baby is fussy.

If your baby blues turn into PPD, you also have a variety of treatments available. They include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Interpersonal Therapy
  • Medication

It’s important to understand that family support is vital during the peripartum period. Having someone at your side when caring for the baby can make a difference between fleeting baby blues and severe PPD.

If you notice that someone you love is experiencing baby blues for more than 2 – 3 weeks after the baby’s birth, it’s imperative to encourage them to talk to a healthcare provider.

How Can BINTO Help Support My Mental Health After Giving Birth?

The key to staying in top physical and mental shape after giving birth is taking care of your health. BINTO supplements can help you do just that, especially when:

  • You don’t have time or energy to cook well-balanced meals.
  • Your body needs nourishment after going through pregnancy.
  • Your body needs extra support to stay healthy while breastfeeding.
  • Your partner is suffering from baby blues and needs extra nourishment.

At BINTO, we create personalized natural supplement kits for women to help them stay in top shape and enjoy parenthood without PPD. For more information, please reach out or schedule a telehealth consult with one of our providers.