If you’ve been feeling a bit down after the birth of your baby, you’re not alone. Between 60 and 80% of new mums experience the baby blues; however, it is important to recognise when your symptoms have gone into the realms of postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression is a disorder, rather than a passing phase. It happens because of the sudden drop in hormones after you give birth, but can also be affected by other factors such as poor nutrition, illness or social isolation. The key is being able to recognise it, as it's only then that you can treat it. Here are the two best ways of telling it apart from the baby blues:
The baby blues usually start a couple of days after your little one is born, and generally, you’re feeling back to yourself after about two weeks. On the other hand, postpartum depression can hit at any time during the first year, and you are likely to need professional help to relieve the symptoms.
Typically, mums who experience the baby blues feel tired, stressed and more emotional than usual, but these feelings don't affect their day-to-day life too much. The symptoms of postpartum depression however, are much more intense, and if you are a sufferer, you’ll find that it is disrupting your life. Some of the most common symptoms are as follows:
  • You might find it increasingly difficult to sleep at night, and not just because your little one is keeping you up
  • Your appetite may have changed
  • You may feel anxious, hopeless and very irritable
  • Your self-esteem may be very low
  • You may find yourself crying an awful lot
If you are suffering from postpartum depression, you probably feel like it will never end. Remember that this is totally normal and that there is help at hand. Contact a mental health professional or your local GP, as they will be able to help.
Most women aren't diagnosed until a year into their depression but it's important to get help as soon as possible, as postpartum depression can turn into chronic depression if left untreated.
Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence – there is always someone willing to offer a helping hand.