The Baby Blues vs. PPD

It may be your first time being pregnant or it may be your third. Each pregnancy and birth is different and it is important to be aware of how you may respond in postpartum.

So lets break it down. In pregnancy, reproductive hormone levels in a woman’s body are 20-30 times greater than normal. At delivery, hormone levels drop abruptly, along with changes in amino acids, neurotransmitters, and thyroid hormones. This sudden drop in estrogen, progesterone, endorphins, and other hormones may trigger depression the same way moodiness may be triggered by premenstrual changes in these hormones. Thyroid levels may also drop sharply after birth. A new mother may develop a thyroid deficiency that can produce symptoms that mimic depression. For this reason, it is always recommended that a woman have a thorough physical examination.

Did you know that Maternal Mental Health Disorders are the most common complication of childbirth? In fact, 70%-80% of new moms will experience postpartum “Baby Blues”. The Baby Blues appear within the first two to three days after birth and usually subsides after two weeks. There are several contributing factors, which may include biological factors (drop in hormone levels), social/environmental factors (marital stress, lack of support system), stress, sleep deprivation, and the physical impacts of delivery. 

The Baby Blues can be described as mild depression interspersed with happier feelings, like an “emotional roller coaster.” 

Symptoms may include: 


*Mood swings/irritability

*Crying spells



*Feeling sad, lonely or overwhelmed

*Inability to cope

*Loss of appetite

*Difficulty sleeping

Postpartum Depression, (“PPD”) is also included in the category of Maternal Mental Health Disorders and affects 10%-20% of new moms. Postpartum Depression can occur anytime during the first year after delivery, but typically appears between the 4-8 week postpartum period. PPD may last anywhere from three to 14 months, or longer, if left untreated. Chronic depression in new moms can have significant effects on mother-baby attachment and bonding, and seeking professional help is always recommended. 

Symptoms may include: 

*Sadness and frequent crying


*Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy

*Appetite changes

*Difficulty concentrating/making decisions

*Feelings of worthlessness

*Racing thoughts

*Agitation and/or persistent anxiety or panic attacks

*Anger, fear, and/or feelings of guilt

*Obsessive thoughts of inadequacy as mom

*Lack of interest in usual activities

*Feeling a loss of control

*Feeling disconnected from baby

*Withdrawing from family and friends

*Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions

*Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

*Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Whether you are a first-time mother or a seasoned parent, your mental health matters! The overwhelm that you can feel does not have to take over. And help is available in person or online. Reach out to our Castle Rock, CO-based counseling center by calling our counseling office at (720) 370-3010 x100 to schedule an initial appointment with one of our caring therapists. Let us help you free yourself from the overwhelm of motherhood and connect with yourself and baby.

About the Author: Amy Heap, MA, LPC

I have a strong passion to journey alongside women, helping to give a compassionate and supportive voice to issues surrounding mom’s mental health. I currently offers In-office (bringing baby to sessions is always welcomed) and Telehealth sessions to help ensure that maternal mental health can be prioritized for all women. I also offer counseling for infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy loss, and Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders. I strive to create a welcoming and safe space for mothers to talk, process, and heal from challenges they have faced during their journey towards and transition into motherhood. Helping women manage difficult emotions that can accompany this season of life, discover their inner resources and grow into strong, confident mothers brings deep value to me. Motherhood is one of the biggest life transitions that women experience and I want to support and help ensure that mothers THRIVE during this time!