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What's The Difference Between The Baby Blues & Postpartum Depression?

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Mental health and child care are two topics that can bring out some serious opinions from just about anyone. And when the two things are combined, then you're bound to get all kinds of advice that, however well-intentioned, may not be terribly helpful. That's why you would do well to understand the difference between baby blues and postpartum depression. Because if you do have to cope with the reality of postpartum depression on top of the many demands of infant care, then you need to know how to take care of yourself as well.

Although it has a cute name, the "baby blues" are a real struggle for many new moms. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), around 70 to 80 percent of new mothers experience symptoms of baby blues. As the APA further explained, these symptoms may include crying for no reason, anxiety, fatigue, mood changes, and insomnia. Furthermore, Baby Center noted that this condition is thought to be caused by  post-birth hormonal changes and the reality of becoming a parent. Even women who definitely want children may have some initial difficulty accepting the major changes that a baby can bring. Fortunately, the baby blues do not tend to last for much longer than a month, as explained on WebMD. You may feel emotional and prone to weeping, but the condition is not debilitating.

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Postpartum depression, however, tends to be more intense and long-lasting than the baby blues. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of postpartum depression include a depressed mood or strong mood swings, severe anxiety, constant crying, social withdrawal, panic attacks, or even suicidal thoughts. As the Mayo Clinic further explained, women who suffer from this condition may also experience trouble bonding with the baby or intense feelings of inadequacy about their ability to be a mother. Unfortunately, this debilitating condition is also fairly common; according to the National Institute of Mental Health, postpartum depression occurs in approximately 15 percent of new moms. To put that in another light, nearly one out of every seven mothers may experience some symptoms of postpartum depression, according to a 2013 study from AMA Psychiatry.

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If you suspect postpartum depression is impacting your life, then seek out help, such as professional counseling or even hormone therapy, as suggested by Help Guide. Most of all, keep in mind that postpartum depression is not some type of character flaw or sign of weakness, and getting help only means that you are determined to be an even better caretaker for your child.