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While the “baby blues” are common for many women after giving birth, some face a more prolonged and serious period of depression.
If your feelings of sadness or anxiety do not go away, you may be suffering from a postpartum mood disorder. But you don’t have to go through this alone. There is support and treatment available.
What is the difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression?
If you’re unsure whether you’re experiencing a common case of the baby blues or something more serious, consider these factors:
- Duration of the symptoms — Baby blues start to diminish after the first two weeks postpartum. Postpartum depression or anxiety persists for weeks or months, and can even start months after the baby is born.
- Severity of symptoms — Postpartum mood disorders typically disrupt your ability to function. The baby blues don’t interrupt daily responsibilities.
What are some common signs of postpartum mood disorders?
These signs may indicate that it’s time to seek some help:
- Exaggerated mood swings
- Constant fatigue or exhaustion, beyond what is related to newborn sleep schedules
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Confusion or difficulty concentrating
- Feeling overwhelmed or helpless
- Low self-esteem and feelings of guilt
- Lack of interest or resentment toward the baby
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Fear of harming yourself or your baby
If you begin having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby — or if you experience any of the above symptoms for an extended period — tell someone you love and contact a health care professional immediately. If you are in a state of crisis, you can contact the Military Crisis Line 24 hours a day (988, press 1). You can also start a conversation via online chat or text (838255). Check out Military OneSource resources for parents, and the New Parent Support Program.
Remember that you are not alone. Help is available and you can get better.
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