Postpartum Depression vs. Baby Blues: 9 Ways to Tell the Difference

Julie Ryan Evans The Stir Exclusive

dead flowersWhen you're pregnant, it's hard to imagine feeling anything but blissful when your baby arrives. However, due to hormones and other factors, many women just can't find that bliss. 

There's a big difference, however, between the baby blues and something more serious like postpartum depression and other mood disorders including postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, and postpartum PTSD that may require professional help. And it's important to know the difference.

But how can women know when they're in the midst of it if what they're feeling is "normal" or if they really need help? I spoke with Kristin B. Hodson, a psychotherapist, author, and founder of The Healing Group, to get some real-life examples of the difference between the two, with which both women and their families and friends should become familiar.

More from The Stir: Postpartum Depression Myths Debunked

The Baby Blues: You haven’t showered in three days, you have dried milk on your clothes, and you burst into tears at a moment's notice.
Postpartum Depression: You haven’t showered in a week, you don’t remember the last time you did laundry, and you are crying most of the day, every day.

The Baby Blues: You haven’t had a thought about putting makeup on in a week and you don’t care that you are wearing your pregnancy pants because your focus is on recovery and the baby.
Postpartum Depression: You're feeling so overwhelmed and out-of-control that you start focusing excessively on your outward appearance so people don’t know how bad and out of control things really are for you.

The Baby Blues: One minute you love your husband and the next you want to bite his head off.
Postpartum Depression: You are beginning to wonder why you married your husband in the first place, you are continually angry at him, and you consider throwing the vase at him.

The Baby Blues: You wonder from time to time if you are really cut out for this mothering thing.
Postpartum Depression
: You think you are not cut out for the mothering thing and start having regular fantasies about getting in your car, driving to Canada, and never returning because everyone would be better off.

The Baby Blues: You’re not initially connecting with your baby the way you thought you would.
Postpartum Depression
: You have a 1-month-old, still feel like you are not connecting, or feel angry toward the baby, avoid the baby, or feel anxious with them.

The Baby Blues: One minute you are smiling at the baby and the next you feel irritated that you have to get up to feed them the fifth time that night.
Postpartum Depression
: You're dominated by anger daily, not just waking up to feed but towards others and life's situations that you used to be able to handle.

The Baby Blues: You are reluctant to have strangers or “others” hold the baby.
Postpartum Depression
: You feel SO concerned about your baby, you don’t let anybody hold them, you check on them 10 times a night to see if they are breathing, and are concerned about going out anywhere with them.

The Baby Blues: You occasionally worry about your new little bundle’s safety (e.g., dropping them) but the thought passes quickly and you go about your day.
Postpartum Depression
: You regularly have intrusive, graphic, and/or scary thoughts about harm happening to your baby and are afraid to tell anyone. It starts heavily impacting day-to-day life, and you avoid activities to keep your baby safe.

The Baby Blues: It’s a good day because you got a shower in.
Postpartum Depression
: You can’t remember your last good day.

Have you suffered from either postpartum depression or the baby blues?



Image via Lee Forest/Flickr

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baby prep, emotions, is it normal