Baby blues or postpartum depression? How to tell the difference and when to seek treatment

Many women feel tired, anxious and a little down after delivering a baby. Persistent symptoms could mean it's more than just the baby blues. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams talks to an OBGYN physician about warning signs and treatment options.

A new mother sits alone and looks sad
Postpartum depression is more severe than the baby blues. Fotolia
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ROCHESTER — Postpartum depression is real and can be treated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website notes that 1 in 8 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression and the number of women diagnosed is on the rise.

"It's normal to feel happy, sad and frustrated after having a baby," says Dr. Melissa Richards, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Olmsted Medical Center. "But if you're concerned that this is impacting your life, if you have concerns that this is never going to get better or if you're not sleeping, reach out to your healthcare provider because treatment can help."

Richards says postpartum depression is more serious than the baby blues, which usually go away within two weeks. She says symptoms that persist or worsen are warning signs that should be taken seriously.

Treatment may come in three forms.

"There are medications available for the treatment of anxiety and depression," says Richards. "And I tell women that this doesn't mean you're always going to be on these medications. We just want to get you on the lowest dose where we can have you so you're essentially asymptomatic and feeling like you can function."


Richards says the other option is therapy, such as talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. The third option is a combination of both.

Symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of emptiness and/or helplessness
  • Excessive crying
  • Anger
  • Fear that you may hurt yourself or your baby

Again, Richards says treatment can be very effective and any woman who develops symptoms during the year after delivering a baby, should consider contacting their health care provider for help.
To hear a more in-depth discussion with Dr. Richards about postpartum depression, check out the link below.

Are you depressed or is it just the baby blues? In this episode of the NewsMD podcast, "Health Fusion," Viv Williams and an Olmsted Medical Center obstetrician and gynecologist discuss risks, symptoms and treatment for postpartum depression.


Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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