Dear Diary, Hi my name is Heather, and I suffered from the baby blues. Well, at least that’s the condition I diagnosed. Oh, you didn’t know? I have a PhD in Google. I evaluated my behavior, typed the symptoms into the search bar, and came up with a cure. Days after delivery, I loss my appetite, had mood swings from Pittsburgh to Timbuktu, tossed and turned on my pillow top, and cried at the drop of a hat. I felt extremely guilty for not raising my daughter under one roof with her father and was anxious about what our future held. I’m not alone. Between 50-80 percent of women experience similar feelings. The change in your mood is usually triggered by the change in your hormones and the emotional and physical stress of childbirth. Fortunately, the feelings only last for a few days, not more than two weeks. Many women return to their pre-pregnancy selves and chase the baby blues away by exercising, eating healthily, talking to their partner, and of course loving on their little ones. But some women have more severe symptoms that last longer. So, what at first appeared to be Baby Blues becomes Postpartum Depression. Diary of a First Time Mom wanted to know what’s the difference between two and how moms can get the help they need. We caught up with Dr. Josh for the answers. What’s the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression? Baby blues happen closer to the delivery. A woman experiences hormonal changes and cries a lot, but otherwise, she’s OK. Postpartum depression can occur during the first two months after giving birth. It’s much more severe. For instance, the woman may not take pleasure in her baby, or she may feel extremely overwhelmed. It’s an all day experience—a permanent condition. She wakes up feeling bad. She goes to bed feeling bad. She may experience sadness, hopelessness, or guilt. Or perhaps she loses interest in activities that typically bring her joy. At this point, she should seek out help. What causes postpartum depression? If a woman had previous problems pre-pregnancy, such as depression or anxiety, she has a higher risk of developing postpartum depression. Some people are more acutely affected. I see this a lot in women who don’t have a partner or have conflict in their relationship. So, it doesn’t matter if they are married or single. She may have recently experienced a stressful life event, like losing a job or a death of a loved one. You can modify the risk with a wide support system of friends and family. Those people can help you as you recover from labor and delivery. Some women go back to work early, or they take classes too soon. They have a lot on their plates. If a new mom thinks she is suffering from postpartum depression, should she contact her OBGYN or a mental health practitioner? She should contact both. Sometimes it’s hard to get an appointment with a mental health practitioner. Your OBGYN has experience with postpartum depression and can help in the meantime. They can often refer you to a psychologist. The most important thing is to not delay seeking help. In the meantime, get enough sleep, eat a proper diet, and talk to someone. Within the black community, I have noticed that there is a stigma attached to mental health disorders. Many people turn to relatives or pastors instead of a psychologist. Do you think this mindset has had an effect on mothers of color getting help for postpartum depression? I’ve seen that phenomenon. Some people are hesitant about getting counseling. Sometimes I refer patients to clinical social workers. They’re more willing to see someone with that title. Some patients would rather talk to their church leader or pastor, but if that’s the case, they should see their OBGYN as well. The OBGYN can make the call if that’s going to be enough. Most postpartum depression cases do not need tremendous intervention to bring about healing. Some women need mediation. Others don’t. I keep seeing them until they are on the road to recovery. Do you educate your patients about postpartum depression? I mostly learned about this issue through online research or talking to friends who shared their experiences. My doctor never discussed it. It’s difficult in pregnancy to talk about everything. I mostly focus on pregnancy and delivery. I don’t want to overwhelm my patients, especially since they don’t typically think about something so far off in the future. Some can’t get past the delivery, so we talk about how they are feeling at their postpartum checkups. Hey DFTM family—Did you battle the baby blues? How did you overcome depression? For more information about depression during and after pregnancy, contact the following organizations: American Psychological Association Website: www.apa.org Phone: 800-374-2721 Mental Health America Website: www.nmha.org Phone: 800-969-NMHA National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, HHS Website: www.nimh.nih.gov Phone: 301-496-9576 Postpartum Education for Parents Website: www.sbpep.org Phone: 805-564-3888 Postpartum Support International Website: www.postpartum.net Phone: 800-944-4PPD, 800-944-4773 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Publications Website: www.store.samhsa.gov/home Phone: 800-789-2647 Women’s Health, a Project of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health Website: www.womenshealth.gov Phone: 800-994-9662 Drawn by family, the beautiful natural settings, and the unfailing friendliness of the people in Alabama, Dr. Joshua Johannson left a busy obstetrics and gynecology practice in Philadelphia to move to Anniston. Dr. Johannson is a graduate of Talladega College and the University of Michigan Medical School. He is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a breastfeeding advocate. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.