How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last? Everything You Need To Know About PPD

Reviewed by Melinda (Santa) Gladden, LCSW

Published 06/24/2022

After a woman delivers a baby, many changes occur in the body, much like while they are pregnant. This can lead to a woman feeling depressed or sad for a few weeks, which is fine. However, in some cases, women feel down or depressed for a longer period, and these feelings will not simply go away. This is generally referred to as a postpartum depression. This article will discuss this type of depression, including how long it lasts and treatment options.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Source: pexels.com

Postpartum depression is a type of depression that occurs in some women after they give birth. The word postpartum means “after childbirth.” Like other types of depression, it may require treatment before someone starts to see relief in the severity of their symptoms. Postpartum depression is quite common and can happen to anyone that has just given birth. If you experience postpartum depression or PPD, this does not mean that there is something wrong with you.

Causes

A few possible causes might contribute to PPD. Since this depression affects women who have just given birth, there is a chance that the body's changes are responsible for postpartum depression. For example, some of the hormones present when you were pregnant may be dropping off dramatically. This can cause changes in behavior and how you feel.

Another thing that may contribute is how well you can take care of yourself after you get home from the hospital. If you cannot sleep and are unable to eat properly, it may cause concern. You will also have to take care of your new baby, which can be stressful and take some getting used to. A parent must figure out how to make changes quickly, and in some cases, this may be difficult to do. This can lead to feelings of failure or anxiety.

Postpartum Depression Symptoms

Here are some of the signs of postpartum depression that you should watch out for.

  • Inability to control emotions
  • Unable to sleep
  • No interest in many things that used to be fun
  • Unable to make decisions
  • Feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
  • Feeling tired all the time.

Source: pexels.com

  • Not able to connect with baby
  • Not eating
  • Eating too much
  • No desire to talk or spend time with anyone
  • Feeling like you aren’t good enough.
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you are having suicidal thoughts and feel like you want to hurt yourself or someone else, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?

Many people have feelings of sadness and depression after they have a baby. However, in many cases, these feelings subside after a few weeks. This is referred to as “baby blues.” If a new parent experiences these symptoms for a longer time, they are likely to experience postpartum depression. Research suggests that PPD may not occur in some women until up to a year after they give birth.

Since this condition does not always show up at the same time for women, there is no easy way to predict postpartum depression length. It may last for years for some people, but other women may see relief within 6 months. It is important to seek treatment once you determine that you need help treating your symptoms.

New Dads and Adoptive Parents

Postpartum depression can also affect new dads and people that have adopted babies. This has been researched, although it is not always discussed when people discuss postpartum depression.

However, Psychiatry published a study that suggested that men might also need mental health support when it comes to PPD. They lay out a statistic that says up to 25% of all fathers may experience PPD after their wives deliver a baby.

Additionally, PPD can affect adoptive parents. Research conducted in 2012explains how adoptive mothers can experience PPD and, in some cases, are just as likely to as women who have delivered a baby. This is something that should be considered if you have recently adopted a baby. Make sure to get the help you need when you feel you are experiencing symptoms of PPD, no matter if you are adoptive parents or a father.

When to Be Checked Out

After you give birth, it is fine if there is a period of time when you are not feeling like yourself. However, if the way you feel affects many things about your routine and these feelings are present for many weeks, you should be checked out. This is especially true if you are having a hard time caring for your child.

If you notice that someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, you should talk to them and gently suggest that they seek help. They may not be aware of how they are acting. It is important to be checked out as soon as possible since PPD can damage your children and other people in the family when it is not treated properly. This is discussed in a study that has been published in the International Journal of Women’s Health. The study also explains how there are multiple treatment options for this condition.

Treatment Options

If you or someone you know is affected by postpartum depression, take this PPD test to find out more information on seeking treatment.

When it comes to the treatment of PPD, one effective method is psychotherapy.  This is a common way to deal with different types of depression, and a therapist may be able to help a mother learn how to deal with their emotions and think differently about themselves, among other things.

Another option when it comes to treating PPD is prescriptions. Some women that experience this depression may see the benefit when they take certain medicines. These medicines will generally be prescribed based on the symptoms present. Be sure to talk to your psychiatrist about medications and take note of any side effects. You should also be aware that many medicines might not be safe to take while you are breastfeeding, which is something else that you should discuss with your doctor.

Preventative Measures

You can do a few things to lessen your chances of developing PPD or the symptoms of postpartum depression.

Get Yourself Checked Out

If you have a history of depression or another type of mental condition, make sure to have yourself checked out while pregnant or after you have your child. A psychiatrist will be able to tell you if the symptoms you are experiencing are fine or not.

Give Yourself Some Time

Source: pexels.com

After you deliver your baby, take the time to get used to your new routine. It might take a few weeks or a month to get used to all the new chores you have to do, being able to eat healthy meals, and taking care of your hygiene, as well as getting the proper amount of sleep at night. Try to get used to these changes before you make any major decisions as well. This may be able to prevent you from experiencing bouts of stress that are not necessary.

Have Helpers in Place

During and after pregnancy, there are so many things to do. Of course, you should not have to do all of these things by yourself. When you have people, you can count on to help you get through your day, let those help you. You might not be able to get everything done by yourself, and this is perfectly okay.

Don’t Stay Isolated

Source: pexels.com

You may feel differently about yourself after you have a baby, but that does not mean the people that care about you do. Make time to spend time with people that you love, instead of just staying in your house. This can help improve your mood and may prevent you from feeling lonely. Moreover, if your friends are also mothers, they might be able to offer you advice and help when you are having trouble.

A study on the Harvard Review of Psychiatry website shows that there are certain risk factors for PPD, including not getting the support they need from a partner or other people. This is another reason why you should not isolate yourself.

Watch Your Diet

Even though it may be harder to eat right or cook meals once you bring your newborn home from the hospital, this is important. Prioritize eating a balanced diet when you can, and if you are unable to, talk to your doctor about what supplements may be beneficial for you.

Exercise

Exercising after a baby can also help you in a few different ways. One is that it may be able to change your mood. You can burn off not only calories as you are working out, but you can also work through stress and anxiety in some cases.

Outlook

If you feel that you have PPD or think that you may be at risk for this condition, it is important to reach out for help as soon as you can. When it is not adequately treated, it can lead to problems for you and your family. You may have a hard time coping for many years. Remember that a dad or adoptive parents may also have depression issues after a baby is born, so if you or your partner is experiencing depressive symptoms, you should get the proper help.

When this condition is treated quickly, you have a better chance of feeling like yourself sooner. The length of time that a woman is affected by postpartum depression can vary from person to person, but some may experience it for years. This is why it needs to be addressed, so you have a better chance of seeing your symptoms go away quicker.

Keep these preventative tips in mind, and make sure that you meet with a therapist to talk about how you feel as a new mom or being a mom again. There is help out there for you.

NOTES: I would add in a resource- PSI that helps many women with post-partum depression.  I think that a follow up article can be beneficial to discuss the different kinds of Post-Partum Depression such as Post-Partum Anxiety, Post-Partum Psychosis, and even how substance use can play a role. 

  • Does not go against what is clinically accepted.
  • Does not encourage mindsets or practices that may be harmful to the reader.
  • Is factual and up-to-date.