Conventional wisdom poses Postpartum Depression as “Baby Blues” that strike mothers in the weeks after baby comes home from the hospital. It is portrayed with an image of a brand new mom in a bathrobe, listlessly rocking a tiny newborn in her arms. In actuality, there is a difference between Postpartum Depression and Baby Blues and it can occur any time within the year a child joins a family. Some experts even attest that Postpartum Depression can appear in mothers within the first two years of baby’s life.
What is the difference between Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression?
Signs and symptoms of the Baby Blues — which last only a few days or weeks — may include:
- Mood swings
- Decreased concentration
- Trouble sleeping
Postpartum depressions signs and symptoms may appear to be the baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and longer lasting, eventually interfering with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Postpartum depression symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Intense irritability and anger
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Loss of interest in sex
- Lack of joy in life
- Feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Severe mood swing
- Difficulty bonding with the baby
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Thoughts of harming yourself or the baby
Is Delayed Postpartum Depression Common?
Yes, it is more common than people realize. Approximately half of mothers will feel some level of Postpartum Depression within the first year after giving birth, and 10 to 15 percent of new mothers will experience a major depression.
Are there Medical Causes of Delayed Postpartum Depression?
Yes there are medical causes. One theory to explain delayed Postpartum Depression includes a decrease in breastfeeding frequency as baby grows, sleeps for longer stretches, and begins solids or mother returns to work. Other possible causes are a drop in the level of maternal hormones and the return of thyroid hormones to pre-pregnancy levels.
Situational Reasons for Delayed Postpartum Depression Is Real?
Yes it’s very real. The realities of parenting a baby who is no longer a newborn can also contribute to Delayed Postpartum depression. A mother may have less help in caring for the child than in the weeks or months right after the birth. The first few months of life newborns sleep a great deal and may require seemingly less care than a demanding older baby. And of course, the exhaustion of parenting a baby can build, and it make take several months of sleep deprivation before the cumulative effects are felt.
Thankfully, there is no need to suffer silently. You can and should get help. There are medicines such as a low dose of the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) Zoloft, which is considered one of the safest antidepressants for breastfeeding mothers. Depending on the severity of the Postpartum Depression there are also natural alternatives that you can discuss with your Naturopath, Homeopath or Integrative Medical Doctor. Remember, any prolonged, negative change in your mood in the year or so after the birth of a child is possibly Postpartum Depression. Call your doctor to discuss your treatment options, no matter how much time has passed.