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Is it Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression: How to Know the Difference

Is it Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression: How to Know the Difference

Are you feeling sad after giving childbirth? It’s okay! It’s completely normal. With a lot of hormones lost after giving birth, it’s only normal to be emotionally off-balance. This onset of sadness is often called the “baby blues.” However, if you feel your sadness is too difficult to bear or it’s taking too long for it to pass, be aware that you might have postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a serious illness that needs adequate medical attention. But how do you tell them apart? Is it baby blues or postpartum depression? How do you know?

What is Postpartum Depression?

Before we get into differentiating the two, let’s first discuss postpartum depression. What is it?

Postpartum depression is a mental illness that usually develops after giving birth. It can lead to intense feelings of loss, emptiness, or sadness. Also, it is important to take postpartum depression seriously because if left unchecked, it might impede a mother’s capacity to live normally and fruitfully after giving birth. It can also cause mothers to feel disconnected to their baby, as if the child isn’t hers. Postpartum depression can also result in self-harm, suicide, and harming others.

Is it Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?

The difficult part of answering the question, “Is it baby blues or postpartum depression?,” is that they usually share the same signs.

As stated earlier, the body’s hormones levels drop after giving birth. This sudden drop can often lead to sadness and mood swings. This phenomenon is what we know as the “baby blues.”

If you find yourself crying, anxious, irritable, or overwhelmed after giving birth then that still falls under the baby blues. What’s important to keep track here is that baby blues will only last for two weeks after childbirth at most. This means that if you experience these feelings for longer than that time, it has developed to postpartum depression.

In addition of not going away, postpartum depression feels more intense than the baby blues. These feelings can be severe that sometimes they might stop you from functioning on a daily basis. In addition, unlike the baby blues, postpartum depression can begin even before giving childbirth.

Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Here are signs and symptoms of what to look out for when it comes to postpartum depression.

  • Severe mood swings
  • Depressive mood
  • It’s hard to bond or connect with your baby
  • You find it hard to socialize with family and friends
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • You find difficulty finding pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability
  • Intense anger
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Fear that you might not be a good mother
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy
  • You find it hard to think clearly or make decisions
  • It’s hard to concentrate
  • Restlessness
  • Severe anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Thoughts of self-harm
  • Thoughts of harming your baby
  • You keep thinking about death and suicide
  • Hearing voices
  • Seeing things that are not there
  • Increased or irrational paranoia

Cause of Postpartum Depression

There is no exact cause for postpartum depression. However, it is believed that physical and emotional issues may have a hand in it. Physical changes like a sudden drop in hormones might lead to postpartum depression. In addition, pregnancy is a very stressful event. It can lead to a lack of sleep along with a lower level of confidence and sense of self. All these factors can contribute to a mother developing postpartum depression.

When to Seek Help

If you find yourself depressed or experiencing any of these symptoms after giving birth, seek professional help. While it might be difficult to confront these feelings, it’s better to do so than letting it go unchecked.

Consult your doctor if:

  • These feelings don’t go away even after two weeks from birth
  • Your feelings keep getting worse
  • You find child care hard
  • Living day to day feels unbearable
  • You have thoughts of harming yourself or your child.

Key Takeaways

Answering the question, “Is it baby blues or postpartum depression?” boils down to time and intensity. If you experience intense feelings of sadness or loss even after two weeks, then it’s most likely postpartum depression. When you find yourself depressed after giving birth, seek medical help.

Learn more about the Postpartum Period here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Postpartum Depression, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617 Accessed March 18, 2021

Postpartum Depression, https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/postpartum-depression Accessed March 18, 2021

Postpartum Depression, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/ppd.html Accessed March 18, 2021

Feeling Depressed After Childbirth, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/support-and-services/feeling-depressed-after-childbirth/ Accessed March 18, 2021

Overview – Postnatal Depression, https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/post-natal-depression/overview/ Accessed March 18, 2021

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Medically reviewed by Hello Doctor Medical Panel
Written by Sky Abundo
Updated 2 weeks ago