You’ve just given birth and are feeling a range of emotions: elation, exhaustion, love. But what if you’re also feeling anxious, down, or hopeless? You may have postpartum depression (PPD), a condition that affects 1 in 7 women after giving birth. With around 4 million live births taking place each year in the United States, this comes to almost 600,000 women.
So how long does postpartum depression last? Well, PPD can last for a while, depending on the factors that caused it. In this article, we’ll discuss what PPD is, how long it can last, and some possible causes. We’ll also give you some ways to treat the effects of PPD.
What Is Postpartum Depression?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of clinical depression that can affect women after childbirth. If you have PPD, you may feel like you’re not a good mother or that you’re not bonding with your baby. PPD can also interfere with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks.
According to statistics, 15% of new mothers experience postpartum depression. And it is thought to be caused by a combination of hormonal changes and psychological factors.
Aside from postpartum depression, there are other types of depression experienced after childbirth, including baby blues and postpartum psychosis. We will discuss these later on in the article.
How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?
The duration of postpartum depression varies. Some mothers experience depressive symptoms for a few weeks, while others may have it for several months. If you experience symptoms of PPD, getting treatment as soon as possible is important.
Postpartum Depression Symptoms
The symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Fears of not being able to love or look after the baby
- Crying more than you usually do
- Feeling, restless, moody or angry
- Insomnia or having trouble sleeping
- Thoughts of self-harming or hurting the baby
- Eating too much or too little
- Feeling sad, worried, anxious, and overwhelmed
- Experiencing aches and pains, including headaches,
- Avoiding activities that used to be enjoyable
- Difficulty taking care of oneself, the baby, and the family
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Having difficulty focusing
- Inability to make decisions clearly
Your doctor can diagnose postpartum depression if any of these symptoms are impacting your life.
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
The exact cause of postpartum depression is not known. It is thought to be caused by a combination of hormonal changes and psychological factors. After childbirth, there are significant changes in hormone levels in the body. These changes can affect mood and also increase the risk of developing postpartum depression.
PPD may also be related to other risk factors such as:
- A history of depression and anxiety
- Poor social support
- Stressful life events
- Lack of sleep
Anyone who is experiencing a negative emotional response following delivery should try some treatment choices below:
Medication: An antidepressant, such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), might be prescribed by a doctor. The doctor usually works with the patient during the postpartum period to establish an effective dosage. Your doctor will also discuss any potential side effects.
Psychotherapy: A health professional (reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist) can provide this type of therapy, which is also called counseling. It might take the form of group therapy or one-on-one sessions. The aim is to help the woman understand and cope with her feelings.
Support groups: These can provide a safe place to share experiences and feelings with others who are going through the same thing.
Asides from this, there are several home remedies you can try to ease the symptoms of postpartum depression, which include:
Exercise: Physical activity can help relieve stress and improve mood. Taking a brisk walk or going for a swim are good options.
Eat healthily: A nutritious diet is important for both physical and mental health. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation can worsen symptoms of depression. Aim to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Journal: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be therapeutic. It can also help you to identify any negative thinking patterns.
Relaxation techniques: Try practices such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises to help reduce stress.
Spend time with friends and family: Social support can play a significant role in recovery. Make time to see friends and family members who make you feel good about yourself.
Types Of Depression Experienced After Childbirth
Postpartum depression is just one type of depression that can occur after childbirth. Other types include the baby blues and postpartum psychosis.
The baby blues: This is a milder form of depression that usually goes away within two weeks after delivery. Symptoms include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and feelings of sadness.
Postpartum Psychosis: This is a rare but severe form of postpartum depression. It usually starts within the first two weeks after delivery. Symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. This condition requires immediate medical attention as it can be life-threatening.
If you think you may have postpartum depression, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Talk to your doctor, a mental health professional, or a support group. Postpartum depression is treatable, and with the right help, you can feel better.
While it’s normal to feel some sadness and anxiety after having a baby if these feelings last for more than two weeks or are impacting your ability to care for yourself or your baby, be sure to seek professional help. You deserve to feel happy and healthy during this special time in your life.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911. For crisis counseling and support in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8225). You can also text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 for free, 24/7 crisis support in the United States.