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Baby blues vs. Post-partum depression

Guest Author - Lisa Angelettie M.S.W.

Did you know that about 70% of all women experience the baby blues after childbirth?

*Jill was so excited during her pregnancy. Both she and her husband had been preparing for the birth of their baby boy for months. The delivery was fairly smooth - no complications - and family members were there to support the happy new couple. But Jill was moody. While her husband held the baby, Jill would slip away into the bathroom and cry for 15 minutes, dry her eyes, and come back out to give her husband and the baby a kiss. Jill felt like this for about two weeks, give or take a few days, and then she began to feel like herself again. Jill had the baby blues.

Did you know that about 10-20% of new moms suffer from post-partum depression?

*Pat was also excited about her new bundle of joy. She was expecting a baby girl and had been nesting for weeks! The nursery was fully stocked with all types of pink confections. Her mother was staying with her to serve as a "mother's helper" for as long as she needed. Once Pat delivered baby Mary, she had plenty of support from her mother and husband but felt badly. Physically she was wiped out. She couldn't sleep. Wasn't eating well. And while she didn't tell her family, she was constantly riddled with feelings of anxiety over the baby. Most of the thoughts had to do with "what if" she hurt the baby this way or in that way. So she just didn't deal with the baby, but rather passed her to her mother for most of the day. This went on for well over six weeks. Pat suffered from post-partum depression.

It's taken decades for physicians to finally recognize the baby blues and post-partum depression. It had always been dismissed as folklore, much like menstrual cramps, for years. But there is strong evidence to suggest that both occur due to hormonal changes after childbirth. The difference between the two lies in the duration and severity of symptoms.

Baby blues usually occurs right after delivery and for no longer than about two weeks. The symptoms generally do not cripple a new mother's day to day activities. Post-partum depression presents itself much like regular clinical depression. The only difference is that post-partum depression seems to be brought on by the trigger of childbirth. Symptoms may not start right after delivery, but will last much longer than two weeks. The symptoms will also be much more severe and may render the mother incapable of having good quality of life as a new mother.

Symptoms include: loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping or staying asleep, absence of interest in her newborn and lack of interest in day-to-day routines.

Fortunately, support systems have been popping up all over to address the needs of a new mother and her family all dealing with the effects of post-partum depression. Remember it is possible for a woman to suffer from a full-blown psychotic break (Andrea Yates) if not treated seriously. Treatment may include antidepressants such as Prozac and talk therapy.

Related reading:
Beyond the Blues
by Shoshana S. Bennett, Pec Indman

Learn more at the: Post-Partum Stress Center

Lisa Angelettie is an author, counselor, & coach on mental health, relationship, and other life issues for women. You can also visit her at http://www.girlshrink.com Please visit us for more discussion on this topic in the depression forum to talk about it further. Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter for topics in the news, new articles, website & book reviews, and other useful depression resources. Subscribe below.
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Content copyright © 2013 by Lisa Angelettie M.S.W.. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Lisa Angelettie M.S.W.. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Rayna H. Battle for details.

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