Postpartum Depression - Is That What THIS IS?

It is often very difficult to determine if what you’re experiencing is the “normal” Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression. To help untangle this misunderstood issue, I would like to offer some tips to help you determine what you are actually experiencing.

To start, I would like to clarify the difference between Mental Health and Mental Illness:

  • Mental Health – "normal" ups and downs

  • Mental Illness – are patterns of thinking, behaviours and/or mood states that affect your day to day activities. Mental Illness can be diagnosed or not, and treated or not.

Perinatal mental illness is the #1 complication of pregnancy.

Having a baby can be challenging, both physically and emotionally, for anyone, and it is natural to experience mood swings (“Baby Blues”).

However, you can successfully face these challenges with the following tips and understanding what you are really experiencing.

Baby Blues

- Is experienced by 40%-85% of birthing people within the first 2 weeks after birth. It usually peaks at 3-5 days after birth.

- It happens due to the hormonal changes that are taking place in the birthing person's body plus having a baby to care for.

- It only lasts for up to 2 weeks.

- When experienced, people have the following symptoms:

  • Mood swings

  • Feeling overwhelmed

  • Sadness/crying

  • Insomnia/fatigue

  • Uncertainty

What a person most needs during this period is support from a partner, family member or friend, along with an adequate amount of rest.

Postpartum Depression

- Occurs to 14-20% of new birthing parents worldwide (1 in 5-7 people). In Canada, According to Statistics Canada in the last survey done around Maternal Mental Health (2018/2019):

"Almost one-quarter (23%) of mothers who recently gave birth reported feelings consistent with either post-partum depression or an anxiety disorder. The proportion of mothers reporting these feelings varied across provinces, ranging from 16% in Saskatchewan to 31% in Nova Scotia."

- The birthing parent experiences the symptoms of the Baby Blues after 2 weeks postpartum.

- Symptoms last longer and are more severe.

- Symptoms can arise at any point within the first year postpartum.

- When experienced, the birthing person can experience the following symptoms:

  • Irritability

  • Anger

  • Anxiety

  • Fatigue but unable to sleep

  • Low or no energy

  • Weight gain or loss (affected appetite)

  • Sadness/hopelessness/helpless

  • Low self-esteem

  • Guilt, shame

  • Feeling of being overwhelmed

  • Feeling of emptiness

  • Lack of concentration

  • Social withdrawal/isolation

  • Feeling inadequate in taking care of the baby

  • Negative attitude towards their partner and sometimes the baby

  • Lack of interest in intimacy and joy

These are some of the risk factors to experiencing Postpartum Depression; however, having any or all of these risk factors doesn't mean you will experience Postpartum Depression:

  • Formula feeding Vs. breastfeeding

  • Personal or family history of depression

  • Smoking cigarette

  • Childcare stress

  • Perinatal depression or anxiety

  • Low social support

  • Life stress

  • Poor marital/partner relationship

  • Infant temperament problems/colic

  • Single marital status

  • Low socioeconomic status

  • Unwanted or unplanned pregnancy

  • Fertility difficulties

Did you know that part