How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?

Tired woman with postpartum depression holding her infant
The birth of a child can be the most wonderful experience a new mom will have, but it also can be a time of conflicting emotions – excitement, fear, joy, sadness – lumped together and hitting in waves at inopportune times. These feelings are normal, often referred to as “Baby Blues,” but if they persist and intensify, that could be a sign you’ve slipped into Postpartum Depression.
Sadness, feelings of loneliness, despair, and unexplained anger may all be signs you are depressed, a mental disorder that affects millions of men, women, and children around the world. The American Psychiatric Association has defined depression as “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.” How Prevalent is Depression? If you’re feeling signs of depression, you’re not alone. According to the World Health Organization, it’s a leading cause of disability worldwide and affects more than 264 million people. The U.S. National Institutes of Health states it’s more prevalent in women than men, or 5.5% to 3.2%, respectively, and may be due to biological sex differences. It’s important to point out that depression isn’t a sign of weakness or a condition to be stigmatized. Depression is a common mood disorder affecting how you think, feel, and handle daily activities such as work or chores around the house. Baby Blues – Similar but Different signs Many new moms experience what doctors call “Baby Blues” – crying spells, mood swings, trouble sleeping, and mild forms of anxiety. But it is different than Postpartum Depression and may only last a few days to a few weeks; anything longer may be signs of Postpartum Depression. Here are possible signs of Baby Blues after delivering your baby:
  • Mood swings – Excitability, desire to self-harm, lack of motivation.
  • Anxiety – This is how some new mom’s deal with stress after pregnancy.
  • Sadness – When a person feels down, discouraged, disappointed.
  • Irritability – Feelings of anger, even towards something trivial.
  • Feeling overwhelmed – The inability to cope with life’s daily events.
  • Crying – Shedding tears over her state of emotions.
  • Reduced concentration – Unable to focus on even small tasks.
  • Appetite problems – Not eating regularly, not enough, or gorges on unhealthy food items.
  • Trouble sleeping – When a new mom feels overly protective of a newborn and can’t sleep regularly.
Signs of Postpartum Depression The biggest difference between Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression is the severity and length of occurrence. Baby Blues may only last a few days to a few weeks, while Postpartum Depression can drag on for much longer with potentially serious psychological and physical consequences. These are symptoms as described by the Mayo Clinic:
  • Severe or depressed mood swings.
  • Excessive crying.
  • Trouble bonding with your newborn.
  • Avoiding contact with family and friends.
  • Eating more than normal or not having an appetite.
  • Insomnia, not being able to sleep or sleeping too long.
  • Loss of energy or overwhelming fatigue.
  • Reduced pleasure and interest in once enjoyable activities.
  • Strong anger and irritability.
  • Concern about your parenting skills.
  • Feelings of shame, guilt, worthlessness, or inadequacy.
  • Diminished ability to concentrate, think clearly, or make choices.
  • Experience serious panic attacks and anxiety.
  • Thoughts of harming your infant or yourself.
  • Recurring thoughts of suicide or death.
How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last? There are many studies about how long Postpartum Depression persists. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is normal for new moms to experience Baby Blues for a few weeks, but serious signs of depression may occur six weeks after giving birth and persist for months. The Journal of Prenatal Medicine and the U.S. National Library of Medicine state the third phase, or most severe period, of Postpartum Depression “can last up to 6 months. Some changes to the genitourinary system are much longer in resolving, and some may never fully revert to the prepregnant state.” Treatment Options If you feel you are experiencing Postpartum Depression, get help. Signs of depression that may require treatment include mood swings lasting more than a few weeks, inability to care for your baby, or thoughts of harming your baby. A doctor may prescribe therapy, or medicine such as ketamine for therapeutic use. There is growing evidence that ketamine can be used to treat depression as well as social anxiety disorder and symptoms associated with Postpartum Depression. If you or a loved one is dealing with the symptoms of Postpartum Depression we can help. Contact us today to learn more about the clinical use of Ketamine to help treat mood disorders.  


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