“Baby blues” often occurs in the first few days immediately after childbirth. The symptoms — the “blue” feelings — generally disappear within a few days to a few weeks. However, during that time, you may have sudden mood swings (remember those hormonal changes!), such as feelings of sadness, weepiness, difficulty sleeping (not associated with the baby), anxiousness, and a feeling of loneliness. However, these symptoms don’t feel overwhelming to you. Napping when the baby naps, and getting help from your partner, family members, and friends can help get you through these days of transition/adjustment.
Unlike the “baby blues,” PPD can happen anytime during the first year — some experts report up to two years — after the birth of your baby. The symptoms are very similar to those of the blues but are much more intense. They also include feeling guilty and worthless. You berate yourself: “What kind of mom feels this way?” or “What kind of mother has these thoughts?” or “This is not what I had planned!” The most significant differences between PPD and the “baby blues” are the feelings of being overwhelmed and the length of time the symptoms last (intensity and duration). PPD compromises your sense of well-being.
Also unlike the baby blues, which can be addressed by some support from your loved ones and friends, PPD needs to be treated by a doctor. The key here is to remember that with the appropriate help and support from those who specialize in the treatment of PPD, it is very treatable.
Ultimately, the way to distinguish between the baby blues and PPD is to trust your instincts. You know when you feel something is very wrong, when you don’t feel like “you” anymore.
If you feel you are struggling, if you feel you are losing ground, if you feel you are hurting … reach out and get help! Make the phone call!