The process of becoming a mother has its many joys and challenges, and there is an understandable level of stress and anxiety that accompanies the Postpartum experience.  Postpartum Depression is a departure from the normal feelings of being overwhelmed after having a child, and this blog entry is dedicated to differentiating between Baby Blues (which 60-80% of PostPartum women experience) and Postpartum Depression.  Luckily, different celebrities are “outing” their Postpartum Depression (such as Brook Shields) but even though it is receiving more media attention, there still remains some misunderstanding about what PPD actually is.

So what are Baby Blues?

More Postpartum women than not experience Baby Blues, and it is temporary moodiness that closely follows the birth of a child.  It often looks like frustration, irritability, crying spells and sadness.  It typically begins 3-5 days after the child is born, (when the milk supply comes in) and it usually goes away on its own.  While it’s happening, the Baby Blues can usually be remedied by a nap, support, or simply taking a break from the baby while someone else cares for him or her.  So why do so many women get the Baby Blues?  It’s primarily a combination of the surge of hormones, breast engorgement, the transition from the hospital to home, and the overwhelming emotions that accompany the responsibility of having an infant.

Postpartum Depression, however, means that following childbirth, the woman experiences both the physical and emotional symptoms of clinical depression.  Often times women feel as though they are “going crazy,” and symptoms of panic disorder and OCD may be present, as well.  If a postpartum woman meets four or more of the following criteria, she should seriously consider getting an evaluation to determine if she does, in fact, have PPD:

-Being unable to “shake” the feelings of depression, regardless of what she does

-Crying at least once daily

-Being unable to concentrate

-Feeling sad most or all of the time

-Having no interest in sex, even after the doctor says that it is OK to go back to having sex

-Being unable to sleep (even when the baby sleeps)

-Feeling like a failure

-Having no energy

-No appetite or enjoyment of food, or conversely, having compulsive sugar and carbohydrate cravings/binges

-Being unable to remember the last time you laughed/experienced joy

-Feeling highly irritable

-Feeling hopeless

-Feeling like the depression will never end

-Thoughts of death or suicide

If you suspect you may be experiencing this, please know that there is help for PPD—with both therapy and medication.  PPD does NOT mean you are “going crazy” or that you have done anything wrong.  With help, it will get better and it will be temporary—though you’ll always have good and bad days, you do not always have to feel this way.  Though it can be hard to accept having PPD at all, acceptance leads to action, which leads to getting help and positive change.