Meltzer-Brody thinks it’s important for women to know the signs and symptoms of both the baby blues and postpartum depression before giving birth, so they’ll know what to expect if they’re among the majority of women who experience short-lived mood changes (the baby blues), or whether they might need to seek treatment for something more severe and persistent (postpartum depression). Here’s a cheat sheet you can pack in your hospital bag:
1. You feel weepy (crying “all the time”), emotional and/or profoundly vulnerable. Some women describe it as “very bad PMS,” Meltzer-Brody says.
2. Your symptoms last about two weeks after giving birth.
3. You also might experience mood instability, depressed mood, sadness, irritability, anxiety, lack of concentration and/or feelings of dependency.
1. Your symptoms last longer than two weeks after giving birth, are much more severe than baby blues symptoms and interfere with functioning.
2. You might experience feelings of anxiety, sadness (crying a lot), depression, irritability, guilt, lack of interest in the baby, changes in eating and sleeping habits, trouble concentrating, thoughts of hopelessness and sometimes even thoughts of harming the baby or yourself, rumination, obsessions, loss of interest in usual activities, feeling worthless, incompetent or inadequate to cope with your baby, fatigue and/or excessive worry about the baby’s health.
3. Postpartum depression typically emerges over the first 2-3 months after childbirth but may occur at any point after delivery.
“Generally I tell people if two weeks go by and the symptoms of anxiety and depression persist, the woman needs to contact her doctor for an evaluation by her ob-gyn,” Meltzer-Brody says. Your doctor will then follow you or refer you to a specialist for possible treatment, which most commonly can include psychotherapy, medication therapy, some combination or other types of treatment. Women experiencing the baby blues can also find some relief early on by obtaining extra sleep and adding more social support and help if possible, she adds.
Meltzer-Brody thinks it’s terrific that celebs like Lachey and Lopez are coming forward to talk honestly about their experiences with the baby blues.
“I would like people to understand is that it’s just common, to really try to help people remove the stigma of this. They should not be embarrassed in any way about asking for help,” she says.