Perinatal depression is more than the baby blues

Learn the signs and symptoms of perinatal depression.

Baby blues are very common during the first few weeks after delivery. Some symptoms include crying, worrying, anxiety or just not feeling yourself. Many of these symptoms are related to normal changes during and after pregnancy. Michigan State University Extension encourages you to learn to recognize the difference between common baby blues and perinatal depression.

Perinatal depression can start after birth or anytime in the first year after giving birth. According to US Department of Women’s Health, 13 percent of pregnant women and new mothers have depression. Depression is more than just the feeling the ‘baby blues’. It is important to know the difference and know when to seek help from a trained health care professional or mental health professional.

It is important to remember that depression is a health problem; it is not the fault of any woman. Perinatal depression can affect any woman, regardless of age, race, income, culture or education. If affects women who breastfeed and those who do not. It affects women with other small children at home and those who are having their first child. It affects women who have healthy babies and those who have ill children. It affects women who are married and single moms. If affects women who had difficult pregnancies and those who did not.

The US Department of Health & Human Services, Maternal and Child Health recommend the following as a guide for determining if you feel you have depression. 

In the past two weeks:

  • I have been unable to laugh and see the funny side of things.
  • I have not looked forward to things I usually enjoy.
  • I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong.
  • I have been anxious or worried for no good reason.
  • I have felt scared or panicky for no good reason.
  • Things have been getting the best of me.
  • I have been so unhappy that I have difficulty sleeping.
  • I have felt sad or miserable.
  • I have been so unhappy that I have been crying.
  • The thought of harming my baby, others, or myself has occurred to me.

If you answered yes to one or more of these, you are encouraged to visit with a trained health care professional or mental health professional.

Depression is a medical condition that is very treatable. The most common types of treatment include talk therapy, medicine and social support. Your own medical doctor is the best place to start. They can help guide you to make a plan for treatment that is best for you. Dealing with your depression can improve the quality of life for you and your baby. 

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