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Am I Dealing With Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?

Am I Dealing With Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?

Newborn Baby, snuggled and sleeping on beige fuzzy carpet. Our maternal mental health therapists offer postpartum support in Northern Virginia and Fairfax county to help you and your baby thrive!

“Everyone experiences this, right?”, “It’s totally normal to feel a little down after having a baby.”, and “…maybe I’m just going crazy.”

Yes. I know. We’ve heard all of those sentiments and SO many more. Is it normal? Absolutely. Especially during the first couple weeks after the baby is born. In fact, the majority of women will have symptoms of baby blues right after the birth of a baby! With so much information and raw, honest sharing on the internet and in “mom groups”, we’ve also seen the topic of Postpartum Depression coming up earlier and more often. This is such a great thing for reducing the stigma around what so many of us feel during this season of life.


So, is this feeling “baby blues”, or postpartum depression?


While baby blues and postpartum depression symptoms are similar, they are not the same thing. Often, with more information comes more misinformation! That’s why I want to clear some things up for you.


Baby Blues


Let’s start with talking about the usual baby blues.

  • Baby blues are short-term mood changes that can last no longer than 2-3 weeks postpartum.
  • Baby blues are normal and will go away on their own.

Postpartum Depression


On the other hand, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and postpartum OCD are very different and usually last much longer than the initial couple of weeks after baby is born. (Please note, postpartum psychosis is a very different emergency.)

  • With postpartum depression, the signs and symptoms are more severe, and they last longer.
  • While there is not a single cause for a mother to suffer with postpartum depression, there are a number of risk-factors that can be evaluated with the help of a caring specialist.

Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression


Before I go into this list, I want to make a few things crystal clear. This is NOT an exhaustive list! There are many things that contribute to postpartum depression, anxiety and OCD. Also, just because something is on this list, it does NOT mean that you are going to suffer with postpartum depression. These associations are not causal. The list below is a summary of the findings included in this research study, published in 2017. Please reach out to us if you have any questions at all about any of these, or anything else regarding the postpartum season. This is our passion!

Photo of woman's hands holding a bowl of healthy food, either oatmeal or porridge with blueberries and raspberries. Nutrition matters for moms during postpartum! Our maternal mental health therapists in Reston, VA can help you prioritize your own mental health so you can be a better mom to your newborn!A few things to be aware of:

  • Previous history of depression and anxiety
  • History of sexual and/or reproductive abuse
  • Mismatched, or mismanaged, expectations during pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum
  • Teen pregnancy (defined as 13-19 years)
  • Hormones! Seems a little unfair, right?
  • Lack or social or family support
  • Inadequate nutrition

As tempting as it might be to get irritated with the OBGYN, midwife, pediatrician, doula or informed friend for repeat screenings for postpartum depression in those early weeks, it is needed. Human beings, especially women, thrive on connection. We need our people during this tough time. You need your people. Let them be your people, even if you get a little annoyed with them from time to time.

Caring for your little one, while not easy, is very simple.

Illustration of Maslow's hierarchy of needs in the shape of a pyramid on a solid black background. Top, smallest, portion is blue and reads, Self-actualization: desire to become the most that one can be. Second, slightly larger section is green and reads, Esteem: respect, self-esteem, status, recognition, strength, freedom. Third, middle, orange section says, Love and belonging: friendship, intimacy, family, sense of connection. The section just above the bottom section is a darker orange/red and the text says, Safety needs: personal security, employment, resources, health, property. Finally, the bottom section is dark red and reads, Physiological needs: air, water, food, shelter, sleep, clothing, reproduction. Illustrates the importance of meeting one's needs to improve mental health. New moms need their needs mets during the postpartum period. Maternal mental health services available in Northern Virginia to help support you on your journey.All of the information above might seem overwhelming. If so, we get it. We know you are getting messages from all over with specific advice and “wisdom” that is well-meaning. However, there are also a few simple, tried-and-true strategies for coping and thriving in that first year after baby. It sounds too easy, but you are already doing the hard work if you found this page.


In order to best recover, the formula is simple. Take care of your baby’s needs. Then, engage in meaningful rest, improve your daily nutrition, get at least a little bit of exercise, and talk to a professional who specializes in this type of silent grief. These measures will dramatically change your life. With help, this does not have to be your reality.


Counseling for Postpartum Concerns in

Northern Virginia, Maryland, & Washington, DC


Although dealing with shifting moods and hormones after pregnancy is totally normal, you do not have to suffer alone. It is often helpful to talk about these issues with a mental health professional and have the support of a therapist who can guide you through the postpartum season.


If you or a loved one is interested in postpartum counseling, caring therapists at Postpartum Wellness are here to support you. Our McLean, VA and Arlington, VA women’s counseling centers have skilled therapists who specialize in counseling for women and parents during the postnatal period. We serve clients in the Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC area.


Get Postpartum Help and Support in

Fairfax County, Arlington County, Maryland, and Washington, DC

It may feel like a giant step to reach out and ask for help, but we make the process as easy as possible. To begin counseling for any postpartum concern, just follow these steps:

  1. Contact Postpartum Wellness to schedule an intake counseling session
  2. Meet with a caring therapist
  3. Begin the journey toward a more joyful postpartum season

Postpartum depression, “Baby Blues” and other postpartum issues can feel really scary! We are here for you. Let us help make this time more enjoyable for you and your baby.


Other Mental Health Services for Women & Parents

At our Northern Virginia counseling offices, we help all women live happy, healthy lives. Our skilled therapists care about what matters most to you. We offer a variety of services. Including counseling for postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety treatment, and supportive counseling during infertility. We also help women find healing after traumatic births as well as helping moms on bed rest or who are stressed during a high-risk pregnancy. You are not alone in this journey. Contact us today to begin counseling and move toward healing.



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