Re: How do I tell true depression apart from the baby blues?
The first month or two with baby can be tough, we know. It's okay to feel overwhelmed when everything around you is suddenly changing. Being a mommy is a tough job, so expect that you'll need time to adjust.
Lots of women suffer from what's commonly called the baby blues, which can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after delivery. You may find yourself feeling low, unable to focus, lacking an appetite and having a hard time getting to sleep (even after baby's gone down). Some moms with the baby blues describe themselves as feeling isolated and emotionally fragile. If you're experiencing any of these symptom, you're not alone. This is a normal part of a baby (though it certainly may not feel that way) and is reported by about 70 to 80 percent of new moms. This doesn't mean you should minimize the rough emotions; rather, just remember that you're not abnormal and strange, and the feelings should pass.
Now, if the baby blues are still strong after a few weeks, head to your doctor. You might be suffering from postpartum depression, which is a serious illness that affects an estimated 10 percent of new moms, causing profound feelings of anger or sadness for months after childbirth. A strong sense of guilt, extreme fatigue and panic attacks are other common manifestations. While some symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to the baby blues (loss of appetite, inability to sleep, etc.), with true depression you may find your head going someplace darker, with thoughts of harming baby or yourself.
The only way to truly determine whether it's baby blues blues or postpartum depression is to speak with your doc. And remember, many women have been in the same position, and there are effective treatments. Though asking for help can be scary, there's no reason for you to feel ashamed. In fact, reaching out to others is one of the strongest things you can do -- for yourself and for your baby.
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. Your pregnancy and birth. 4th ed. Washington, DC: ACOG; 2005.