Tag: what is the difference between baby blues and PPD?

The Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression – What You Need to Know

One of the many questions we have received on our social media pages revolve around the baby blues and postpartum depression. Moms have reached out wanting to know whether there’s a difference between the two, and the need to ask for help. In line with our mission to raise awareness and reduce stigma on Postpartum depression (PPD), we had this topic for our second bi-monthly tweetchats. We defined the two conditions, looked at their symptoms as well as outlined the differences between the two (Find link to thread attached below, alongside our social media pages).

The baby blues, also referred to as postpartum baby blues, refer to a mild condition that many new moms will experience in the days following child birth. This condition is characterized by mood swings, crying spells, difficulty sleeping as well as an overall sense of fatigue as moms adjust to their new role of taking care of the baby.

Research shows that upto 80% of new moms struggle with the baby blues, usually beginning a day or two after birth. The precise cause of baby blues is unknown, but it is thought to be linked to the sudden drop in reproductive hormones after a baby is born. During pregnancy, progesterone hormone is at an all-time high, and this plummets immediately after birth. These chemical changes are thought to trigger mood swings as seen during baby blues.

The most important thing to remember about baby blues is that they are mild and shortlived, usually going away on their own after about a week or two. As such, they do not require any treatment.

PPD on the other hand, is a maternal mental health illness that affects up to 20% of new moms. According to research findings,PPD is the result of a complex interplay of genetics, sudden hormonal changes and external risk factors that lead to one of the most common maternal mental illnesses.

Genetics come in where some moms are predisposed to PPD because someone in the family – a mom, aunty, sister, cousin or gramdmother – suffered the same form of depression. This is also seen in cases where family members live with a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or OCD among others.

Sudden hormonal changes on the other hand, also play a role in moms who develop PPD. As mentioned above, the sudden changes in hormonal levels leads to chemical changes in the brain, and this is a risk factor for Depression.

External risk factors refer to a myriad of issues or stressors that may place a given mom at a higher risk of PPD than another. these stressors include, but are not limited to previous child loss, an unwanted/unplanned pregnancy, financial constraints, a traumatic birth experience and lack of a support system. Delivering a child with special needs has also been known to predispose moms to PPD.

In addition to this, new moms are constantly exhausted and suffer great sleep deprivation. This often causes physical pain and fatigue which makes it incredibly challenging to take care of a newborn. Many moms will admit that the changes in sleep patterns, coupled with the healing after birth (whether from natural delivery or a CSection) can worsen the symptoms of depression.

In contrast with baby blues, PPD is more severe, has more intense symptoms, lasts a longer period (up to one year after delivery) and will often require treatment to help a mom recover. the image below outlines the key differences between baby blues and PPD.

Baby blues are mild, short-lived and will usually go away on their own. PPD on the other hand, is more intense, lasts up to one year after delivery and will require treatment for moms to recover. More information on ppdkenya.com
the difference between baby blues and PPD

The most important thing for moms to remember is that it is not a fault of theirs that they struggle with maternal mental illness. PPD can affect any mom regardless of their social status/ age/ religion/ race/ sexual orientation/ marital status. There’s hope and affected moms need not struggle alone. Please reach out to us on email (ppdkenya@gmail.com) and we will help you get the help you need. We also run support groups in Nairobi (presently), and you can read more about that here.

Below are snippets of our second tweetchat on baby blues and PPD. Get the whole thread here, and while at it, please follow us too 🙂

 

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