Baby Blues: Postpartum Depression Causes

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated April 23, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Becoming a parent is often one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences a person can have. However, for many new parents, the joys of parenthood can be overshadowed by feelings of sadness, anxiety, and overwhelming stress. This is sometimes referred to as the “baby blues,” which is thought to be a less severe form of postpartum depression and can develop due to a variety of factors. According to the National Institutes of Health, if you experience the baby blues, you might have crying spells or mood swings, feel sad or overwhelmed, or experience insomnia.

Seeking professional help

While baby blues often resolve on their own, it can be crucial to reach out for professional help if symptoms persist or interfere with your ability to care for your child. You can speak with a healthcare provider or connect with a licensed therapist, whether in your community or online. 

Understanding baby blues

You don't have to cope with baby blues on your own
Baby blues can describe the emotional and physical changes many people experience in the days and weeks following childbirth. These changes can include feelings of sadness, anxiety, irritability, and fatigue. The onset of baby blues usually occurs within the first few days after birth and could last for a few weeks.

It can be important to note that baby blues may not be the same as postpartum depression, which is usually a more severe form of mental illness that can have a significant impact on a person's ability to care for their baby. These usually resolve on their own and may not require treatment.

What causes it?

There is likely no single cause. Rather, it is believed to be the result of a combination of factors, which may include:

  • Hormonal changes: The rapid changes in hormone levels (such as estrogen and progesterone) after birth could contribute to feelings of sadness and anxiety.
  • Physical exhaustion: The physical demands of childbirth and caring for a newborn can take a toll on a person's body and lead to feelings of fatigue and exhaustion.
  • Emotional stress: The transition to parenthood can be overwhelming and stressful, potentially leading to feelings of anxiety and sadness.
  • Lack of sleep: Newborns often have unpredictable sleep patterns, which can leave a new parent feeling exhausted and stressed.
  • Social isolation: Many new parents feel isolated and alone, particularly if they are not getting the support they need from their partners or families.

Supporting your partner during this period

Ilona Titova/EyeEm

The physical and emotional changes that can come with having a new baby may take a toll on some parents. Therefore, it can be ideal for partners to understand the impact of baby blues. Partners can play a helpful role in providing emotional support, practical help, and understanding during this time. You may also do the following:

  • Offer to take on additional responsibilities at home, such as cooking, cleaning, or childcare, to alleviate some of the stress and fatigue that your partner may be experiencing.
  • Listen actively and validate your partner's feelings.
  • Try to avoid minimizing or dismissing their experiences.
  • Plan quality time together, whether going for a walk, watching a movie, or having a date night.
  • Be mindful of your stress and emotions and prioritize self-care for yourself.

Having them can be a time of transition, and it may take time for both you and your partner to adjust to the new role of parenthood. Being patient, understanding, and supportive of each other during this time will usually provide the best outcome.

Coping strategies for baby blues

If you are experiencing baby blues, please know that you are not alone and that there are things you can do to cope with these feelings.

You don't have to cope with baby blues on your own
  • Seek support: Connecting with other new parents or a therapist may provide you with the emotional support you need to cope with the challenges of parenthood.
  • Take care of yourself: Make sure you get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise regularly.
  • Be realistic: Recognize that it can be completely normal to experience sadness, anxiety, and stress during the postpartum period.
  • Accept help: If people offer to help you, it can be best to accept rather than attempt to do everything on your own.
  • Practice self-care: Try to make sure you take time each day to relax and unwind.
  • Seek professional help: If your feelings of sadness, anxiety or stress persist for more than a few weeks or are severe enough to interfere with your ability to care for yourself and your baby, it’s generally best to seek professional help.

Benefits of online therapy

One benefit of online therapy when it comes to coping with baby blues may be that new parents don’t have to leave the house in order to get the professional help they deserve. A mental health care provider can help new parents identify the underlying causes of their feelings and develop coping strategies tailored to their unique needs and circumstances. Therapy can also give new parents a sense of validation and understanding, which can be valuable when many people feel isolated and alone. Additionally, therapy may also be able to assess new parents for any other underlying mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, which may be contributing to their feelings of sadness and stress.

Effectiveness of online therapy

Recent studies have investigated online cognitive-behavioral therapy (OCBT) as a potential treatment option for postpartum depression symptomatology, which tends to be closely related to baby blues. This study found that OCBT could be effective in reducing symptoms of postpartum depression and improving maternal functioning. The results of this study demonstrate that online therapy could be an effective option for new parents.


Baby blues can be a common and normal experience for many new parents. Taking care of yourself, seeking support from family members, and practicing self-care may help you navigate this challenging time. It may also be helpful to consult a therapist who can provide you with the support and guidance you need to work through these feelings and develop coping strategies. Take the first step toward getting help with postpartum depression and reach out to BetterHelp today.

Depression is treatable, and you're not alone
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
You don't have to face depression aloneGet started