Postpartum Depression vs. The Baby Blues

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Giving birth can come with some powerful emotions. It can be exciting and wonderful but it can also lead to something unexpected: depression. Postpartum depression is a special medical diagnosis that is fairly common after childbirth, according to Dr. Patrick Gramith, DO, who has a family practice at McLaren Flint in Fenton. And, there is a difference between postpartum depression and the “baby blues. “The baby blues go away in about ten days,” he adds. Symptoms include very mild irritability, being more emotional, crying for no reason and difficulty sleeping.

Postpartum depression is a whole different thing. “It’s not just crying,” says the doctor. Symptoms include disinterest in dressing or feeding the baby, perpetual guilt and, possibly, intrusive thoughts of harming the baby. According to mayoclinic.com, other symptoms include: difficulty bonding with the baby, hopelessness, overwhelming fatigue and fear that you are not a good mother, to name a few.

What causes postpartum depression?

According to Dr. Gramith, the cause isn’t exactly known, but it can be due to chemical and hormonal changes in the brain. Postpartum depression occurs more often in women who have previously suffered from depression.

Is there a treatment?

“The best option is to go to your doctor for your post-pregnancy checkup and wellness visits for the new baby,” Dr. Gramith advises, adding that in more severe cases, medication can help. “You need to be evaluated by a physician. There are a lot of good medications to treat it. Individual therapy can also help and there are a lot of support groups out there.”

How long does it take to feel better?

According to the doctor, treatment can last from six months to one year. “We typically treat depression with medication for at least six months. Medications take as long as a month to be effective but after a month, you may start to feel better.”

Is postpartum depression common?

Statistics indicate about 80 percent of new mothers experience varying degrees of the baby blues, whereas about five to seven percent experience postpartum depression.

Where do I get help?

Help can be received through regular checkups with your doctor. Nutrition and after-care can be addressed by your family doctor, pediatrician, and at baby wellness visits. “If something comes up, talk to your physician,” says Dr.Gramith. “It’s important to have a good relationship with your doctor.”

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