woman looking sad

How to tell if it’s PND or baby blues

What’s the difference between baby blues and PND (Postnatal Depression)?

Most mums will have heard the term ‘baby blues’. It’s a stage that up to 80% of mothers go through. But at what point does the baby blues period end? And at what point should mums start to question if it’s PND?

We’ve done some research into what to keep an eye out for if you start to grow concerned. We urge anyone who believes they are struggling with PND to contact a professional or to reach out to a loved one, as they are the ones who will be able to help you through this situation.

What are the baby blues?

Giving birth and welcoming a new baby into the world is supposed to be such a happy event. But in the first few days after birth many new mums feel low in mood, emotional and anxious.

Mums experiencing baby blues might experience:

  • feeling emotional and bursting into tears for no apparent reason
  • feeling irritable or touchy
  • low mood
  • anxiety and restlessness

All these symptoms are normal and usually only last for a few days. (Source: NHS)

What causes baby blues? After your body has gone through birth your hormones levels drop pretty drastically. According to NCT, your oestrogen levels actually drop more than 100 fold in the first three days after your baby is born.

That chemical decrease as well as the stress of taking your new-born baby home for the first time can be a time of experiencing your most heightened amount of emotions.

What is PND?

Postnatal Depression affects about 1 in every 10 parents, and can occur 2-8 weeks after birth or even up to a year later. Unlike the baby blues, which go away after a few days, symptoms of PND linger. If you feel down or anxious or just not like yourself and it is something that doesn’t go away then it could be PND.

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Some of the symptoms of PND can include a persistent low mood, trouble sleeping, withdrawing from other people, and intrusive thoughts. These don’t necessarily occur all at once, but rather tend to develop gradually over time.

The NHS have provided a useful overview of the symptoms of PND:

Emotional signs of postnatal depression may include: 

  • loss of interest in the baby
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • not being able to stop crying
  • feelings of not being able to cope
  • not being able to enjoy anything
  • memory loss or being unable to concentrate
  • excessive anxiety about the baby

Other signs of postnatal depression may also include:

  • panic attacks
  • sleeplessness
  • extreme tiredness
  • aches and pains
  • feeling generally unwell
  • anxiety
  • loss of appetite (Source: NHS)

How to tell the difference between PND and baby blues?

PND and baby blues both can leave you feeling run down, emotional, irritable or anxious.

Baby blues, however, will pass within 10 to 14 days after giving birth. As your body begins to recover and your hormone levels return back to normal you should start to feel better and your mood should begin to return back to normal.

PND, on the other hand, doesn’t have a set time period and you don’t necessarily “just get over it”. It can last for months, and can become a long-term problem if left untreated. It’s a myth that PND is only hormonal based. It has a lot of different contributors. PND can also affect 1 in 10 fathers, which indicates fairly clearly that it’s not just a hormonal-based illness.

If you feel persistently low, irritable, struggle to sleep and yet have a lack of energy, and have other symptoms listed here, then you should consider seeking out help.

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Where to seek help

PND and baby blues both are difficult to go through. They can be scary to experience at times, and the rose-coloured glasses we wore when approaching parenthood can start to slip when we experience them. For all the love and care we hold for our children, baby blues and PND are unfortunately something out of our control.

However, one of the best things you can do to help pull yourself through it is to reach out and talk about it with your support system (your family, friends, or midwife). The best first step is to start a conversation about it. And to seek help and support.

We have a PND Support page with useful resources for you to look through including charities like PANDAS and APNI, and we strongly recommend you to contact your GP and tell them about how you are feeling. If you start to experience suicidal thoughts, or have frightening thoughts about hurting your baby, then contact 111. And if you think that there’s a danger of you putting yourself or a loved one in danger, contact 999 immediately.

Remember: you don’t need to suffer alone through this. There are people, charities, and loved ones who are willing to listen and help. There is a way out. And you will get better.

Stay safe, and please reach out.

Disclaimer: We have researched and included robust sources to provide information in this article. However, we are not health or medical professionals and you should always seek medical advice if you are worried about you, your partner’s or your baby’s health.

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Leanne Warren

Leanne Warren

Happity's Marketing Magician. From blog-writing, to social media and organising the newsletters: she's all about content. When she's not working, Leanne is usually flip-flopping through a series of different creative hobbies, daydreaming about her next meal, and making an endless supply of coffee to keep her fueled throughout the day. That, or she'll be found mindlessly watching her two turtles, Bill and Ted, have Excellent Adventures together.