Is it “baby blues” or postpartum depression?

Ellen Byars
Clinical Nurse I
, Unit 4-3 Mother/Baby

Women's Services at Durham Regional HospitalThe birth of a baby can inspire many new and wonderful feelings. In some cases, unexpected feelings of depression may arise. Postpartum depression affects many women after childbirth. They may feel emotional and experience the “baby blues,” crying spells or mood swings shortly after giving birth.

So what’s the difference between “baby blues” and postpartum depression, you ask? Postpartum depression is longer lasting and more severe in nature. Beyond feeling emotional and gloomy, lack of interest in caring for the newborn and oneself may be present. In some cases, thoughts of harming oneself or the baby may arise.

The key to diagnosing and treating postpartum depression is in speaking with a healthcare provider sooner rather than later. At Durham Regional, our experienced care team screens all postpartum mothers for postpartum depression before they are discharged home. Mothers should still contact their providers if depression arises when they get home as most postpartum depression crops up in the weeks following childbirth.

Women may feel ashamed for feeling the way they do and put off getting help until the depression becomes unbearable. Thanks to more literature on the matter and vocal celebrities like Alanis Morissette and Brooke Shields, postpartum depression has become less stigmatized and more normalized as treatable and something about which to NOT feel ashamed. Getting help soon after feelings of depression arise allows providers to work quickly in treating moms and ultimately provides a better, happier outcome for mom, baby and the family.

For information about the Birth Place at Durham Regional Hospital, visit our Website.

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