Spot the signs: 'baby blues' or postpartum depression

12:01 PM, May 8, 2013   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Many women experience "the blues" in the days or weeks following the birth of a baby.  In most cases this period of mild depression passes naturally within a couple of weeks, with no lasting harm to mother or baby.

But for some mothers this natural period of transition becomes a more serious, longer-lasting depression that requires extra support or professional help. So how do you tell what's normal and what are the red flags that signal a more serious depression? 

This morning, Dr. Marti Erickson, developmental psychologist and co-host of, shared some insightful tips.

How to Recognize the Types of Postpartum Depression:

1. "Baby blues" (occurs in 50-75% of women)

Symptoms: sadness, crying spells, anxiety irritability, and insomnia.  Lasts for several days to two weeks with usually no lasting effects on mother or baby.  

2. Postpartum depression (10-20% of women)

Same symptoms as "baby blues" but longer and more severe. Symptoms also include guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, urge to run away, and an aversion to baby.

Classified as major clinical depression and usually requires professional help; babies can become flat in affect, not develop the sense of security they need, and have lasting social-emotional difficulties if mom doesn't get help.

3. Postpartum psychosis (1-3 of 1000 women)

Symptoms: disorientation, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts/actions, and persistent thoughts of harming baby

Seek immediate psychiatric help to protect mother and child.

Supportive steps friends and family members can take:

• Challenge the stigma
• Offer concrete help
• Listen
• Encourage activity
• Support getting professional help

For more tips and advice, check

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