LISA: I'm Lisa Birnbach for howdini.com. You're the mother of a newborn baby. This is supposed to be the happiest time of your life, but guess what? Many new mothers are anything but happy. It's called postpartum blues and it's very common. Dr. Keith Eddleman is professor of Obstetrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and author of two books on pregnancy including Pregnancy for Dummies. Dr. Eddleman thank you for being here.
DR: EDDLEMAN: Thank you for having me.
LISA: A lot of women give birth and feel kind of weird. They may not think of it as depression, they may just think of it as tired or overwhelmed, right?
DR: EDDLEMAN: Right and it's generally called postpartum blues and it's very, very common. Most women don't realize it, but 80% of all women who deliver has some mood disorder in the postpartum period.
LISA: It's actually a disorder, it's not just exhaustion and hormonal--
DR: EDDLEMAN: Well the symptoms are vague sometimes, but it clearly recognized as a clinical entity. You know it's not just something, you know, I'll go home and it'll get better.
DR: EDDLEMAN: It's a real clinical entity called postpartum blues. Generally it's like extreme fatigue, often above what you would expect. Feeling blue and down, sometimes being tearful for no reason at all. Sometimes you just don't feel interested in taking care of your baby or your newborn and you don't understand why. A lot of the symptoms are vague, but it's very real that women have symptoms.
LISA: So postpartum blues is common; postpartum depression is less common. What's the difference between the two?
DR: EDDLEMAN: Well the symptoms are usually more severe in postpartum depression. Severe anxiety, panic attacks are often a component of it. Inability to sleep, insomnia, or hypersomnia--wanting to sleep all the time. Inability to keep yourself nourished--not being able to eat. Feelings of harming yourself or your baby. Those are severe symptoms and are not typical symptoms you would see with postpartum blues. Those are more depression.
LISA: Are they treatable with medication or with therapy?
DR: EDDLEMAN: Most women don't need medication for postpartum blues. What we recommend for postpartum blues, first of all: acknowledge it. Secondly talk to your friends and family about it, you know, it's a real thing, talk to them about it. Try to get some extra help if you can. Just, if you can, steal away for a couple of hours during the day for some me time, time for yourself.
LISA: Now when it falls into full-fledged depression, does that mean that the person is depressed? Or is this only a short term depression and as a result of the hormonal imbalance of delivering?
DR: EDDLEMAN: Well the majority of the women who have full-blown postpartum depression with full-blown symptoms generally will get over it. Sometimes they need medication, but it is something that will go away. It's not something that's a longterm, life long thing.
LISA: Is there an understanding of how long postpartum blues or postpartum depression usually lasts?
DR: EDDLEMAN: It's usually less than four to six months. usually it's less than four to six weeks. You know and usually the postpartum blues is two to four weeks. But most postpartum depression is usually significantly improved by four to six months after delivery.
LISA: When should you actually call your doctor and finally say enough is enough. I feel bad, I should feel happy.
DR: EDDLEMAN: It's a very important question; I'm glad you asked it. There's some signs really that you should call your doctor about. If your symptoms from postpartum blues persist more than two to four weeks, if you really just find an inability to sleep or you want to sleep all the time, if you are just completely...inability to take carry on activites of daily living. You can't nourish yourself, you don't want to bathe yourself, keep yourself clean. And probably the two most important ones: if you have thoughts about injuring yourself or your baby. You should definitely call your doctor at that point.
LISA: Okay. But, you will get through it. That's the important thing.
DR: EDDLEMAN: Overwhelming majority of women do. That's the good news.
LISA: That's the good news. Okay thanks Dr. Eddleman.
DR: EDDLEMAN: Thank you.
LISA: For howdini.com I'm Lisa Birnbach.