How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?

Postpartum depression is a form of depression in which the mother of a baby falls into a depressed state. This depressed state typically results in the following behaviors:

  • Avoiding the baby
  • Feeling anger or resentment toward the baby
  • Crying spells
  • Feeling overwhelmed with the changes that a baby brings
  • Mood swings and depressed mood
  • Irritability
  • Trouble focusing
  • Thoughts and fears about harming yourself or your baby

These symptoms are usually the result of a hormone imbalance. They tend to kick in between 1 day and 2 weeks after giving birth. Experiencing postpartum depression is scary. However, it is important to keep in mind that the symptoms are not a reflection of you as a mother. It is also important to remember that the symptoms do not last forever.

Each case of postpartum depression is different. It will cause different symptoms and last different lengths of time. Here is a breakdown of the amount of time a person would expect to have postpartum depression, depending on the severity of their symptoms:

  • The baby blues is a term used for a more mild form of postpartum depression. When a person experiences the baby blues they may experiences similar symptoms, like:
    • Mood swings
    • Irritability
    • Anxiety
    • Feeling dependent on others
    • Feeling fearful about the wellbeing of their baby
    • Doubting their competency as a mother

Baby blues typically only last between one and three weeks after the onset of symptoms. Symptoms can occur anywhere between one day and two weeks after the birth of the mother’s baby.

The difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression is that with postpartum depression the symptoms will last longer and be more severe. A case of postpartum depression can arise as early as one day or as late as six months after giving birth. Most cases occur within the first three months after birth. Symptoms of postpartum depression will feel all encompassing. They will have a prolonged effect on the mother and how she relates to her child.

A case of postpartum depression can last anywhere between six months and one year after giving birth. Most cases will see a gradual decrease as the mother’s hormones adjust. Length of time also depends how well and quickly the mother gets accustomed to the new baby.

The length of time a mother suffers from postpartum depression depends on her overall mental health. A mother is at a higher risk for developing symptoms if she has a history of anxiety or other mood disorders.

A mother has a higher risk to experience postpartum depression if she is predisposed to depression. She is also at risk if she suffers from other mood disorders, like:

  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Dysthymia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Dependent personality disorder

Length of time the symptoms will persist also depends on whether the mother seeks treatment. In most cases treatment and counseling is critical to a mother’s recovery. If you feel you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression it is important to seek professional help. Postpartum depression is treatable and with early intervention symptoms will reduce considerably within months after beginning treatment.

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