How Do You Know if Baby Blues are Postpartum Psychosis or Postpartum Depression?

Baby Blues

Baby blues, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis can all share similar symptoms. However, it’s very important to know the signs, differences, and when to seek help.

Baby Blues

Baby blues usually occur in the first few days after the delivery of a baby. Baby blues are common in up to 80% of postpartum patients.

Symptoms can include difficulty sleeping or eating, increased tearfulness and feelings of doubt when it comes to taking care of your new baby.

Hormone changes and sleep disruption can be normal, but emotionally challenging.

Ways to combat baby blues can include getting as much sleep as possible, asking for help, getting out of the house and letting go of expectations.

Usually, baby blues are alleviated after one to two weeks.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression differs from baby blues in the timing and severity of the symptoms. If your baby blue symptoms last longer than one to two weeks, that could be a sign of postpartum depression.

If you have postpartum depression, you may have feelings of sadness, anxiety or despair that interfere with completing daily activities. One in 10 mothers are affected by postpartum depression. If you think you have postpartum depression, please contact your health care provider.

Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is detachment from reality. It is difficult to tell what is real and what is not.

Patients experiencing postpartum psychosis can have hallucinations, delusions, mania or mood changes. Patients may seem confused or unable to care for themselves, be very withdrawn, suspicious of others or have difficulty bonding with their baby.

Postpartum psychosis is temporary and treatable with professional help, but it is an emergency, and it is essential that you receive immediate help. If you feel you or someone you know may be suffering from this illness, know that it is not your fault, and you are not to blame. You can visit any of our seven emergency department locations or UofL Health – Peace Hospital Assessment and Referral Center for a no-charge assessment 24/7 at 502-451-3333 or 800-451-3637. Walk-ins welcome.

Talk to Your Doctor

It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed if you are a new parent. Your health care provider or your infant’s provider are an important resource for new parents.

UofL Health screens new moms for postpartum depression before they go home from the hospital and checks back within a few weeks after delivery.

If your loved one is suffering from these symptoms, recognize that much of what is happening can be attributed to this is brain chemistry and is not anyone’s fault. Postpartum mood disorders can be treated with medications, therapy or both.

You can also support new parents by listening and making it easier for them to find time to sleep. Helping with chores like laundry and cooking can also provide relief. It’s also important that new parents find a moment to eat and shower. Be supportive and not judgmental. Know that you’re not alone and reach out to a doctor or mental health support if it’s needed.

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Article by: Sara Petruska, M.D.

Sara Petruska, M.D., is an obstetrician and gynecologist with UofL Physicians OB/GYN & Women’s Health. She serves as medical director for Labor and Delivery at UofL Hospital’s Center for Women & Infants. She received her medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, Fla. Dr. Petruska completed her residency and fellowship at Stony Brook University Medical Center in Stony Brook, N.Y.

All posts by Sara Petruska, M.D.
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