Having a child can be a wonderful experience, but it is certain to have a profound impact on your life and on your body. Your sleep schedule, daily routine, your finances, hormonal balance, and even your sex life may all be altered after the birth of your child. Roughly 60-80% of mothers develop postpartum “blues” or “baby blues,” and 10-20% of mothers develop a longer lasting, more severe postpartum depression or anxiety.
Postpartum depression is longer lasting than baby blues, but there is help. In this blog, let’s dive into how long postpartum depression lasts and what you can do to treat it.
How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?
Baby blues typically last only a couple of weeks. As the statistics above show, these are incredibly common and usually occur within a few days after the birth. However, if those feelings of depression continue beyond a couple weeks, the issue could be postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression can last for months or even the first year after childbirth. In some cases, postpartum depression may last longer. In fact, 30% of women reported that their symptoms of depression lasted for more than 3 years. This is why it’s essential to seek out mental health support and treatment in order to manage your postpartum depression symptoms. Most postpartum depression patients have been shown to respond well to treatment.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of postpartum depression. Being a new parent is an exhausting experience, but if you feel constantly tired for months after childbirth or if you have trouble eating or sleeping, that speaks more to postpartum depression. Mothers may also find themselves crying for no apparent reason, feeling a sense of panic suddenly, or experiencing an overwhelming sense of loss or longing for their old life.
Mothers with postpartum depression may struggle to develop a sense of feeling for their child. This does not mean that you don’t care about your baby, but postpartum depression can make it difficult to feel that deep emotional connection. On the other hand, mothers may feel an incessant worry for their baby or be filled with irrational fears that something terrible might happen. Postpartum depression often goes hand in hand with postpartum anxiety, as the anxiety can exacerbate the exhaustion of the depression.
What Impacts the Length of Postpartum Depression?
The length of time that postpartum depression may last will vary from person to person. A family history of depression or other mental health conditions may exacerbate postpartum depression and lengthen the duration. One thing that impacts the wellbeing of patients and length of postpartum depression is access to treatment. Patients who seek out postpartum depression treatment sooner find that their symptoms alleviate sooner. Without treatment, symptoms may continue to fester, and your family life may be affected.
Postpartum Depression For the Non-Childbearing Parent
Although postpartum depression most often occurs with the childbearing parent, studies have shown that 1 in 10 partners may also experience postpartum depression or anxiety. Although they may not experience the hormonal fluctuation of their partner, the despair of seeing someone they love depressed and feeling that they can’t help can cause depression. Parenting is also a great life adjustment for both parents, and some parents may take some time to gain the coping skills they need. Postpartum symptoms in the non-childbearing parent may include:
- Difficulty concentrating, low motivation, or withdrawing from relationships
- Irritability, anger, or sudden outbursts
- Reckless behavior or suicidal thoughts
- Using work as a distraction or, alternatively, being unable to focus on work
- Aches, stomach pain, or digestive issues
These symptoms can occur before or after the birth of the child. When both partners experience postpartum depression, it can have devastating impacts on the family. Even if you are not the childbearing parent, If you notice that you are suffering from postpartum depression, it is important to seek treatment.
Other Postpartum Disorders
Postpartum depression is one of the most common postpartum mental health disorders that can occur. However, there are other postpartum disorders that parents may face after the birth of their child. These include:
- Postpartum anxiety
- Postpartum OCD
- Postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder
- Postpartum psychosis
Postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder can occur in the aftermath of a difficult birth or birth trauma, such as a birth that came at a high risk to the parent or child.
Treatments For Postpartum Depression
If your “baby blues” last longer than two weeks, the first thing to do is to reach out to a mental health care provider. Postpartum depression can be devastating and frightening, but there are treatments available and most patients have been shown to respond well to treatment. There are a few different options for you.
First, your psychiatrist may prescribe you with antidepressants. You may remain on these antidepressants until your symptoms decrease enough that you can return to life worth living. Most often, patients with postpartum depression are prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SSNI). There is also brexanolene, a medication specifically created for patients with postpartum depression.
Therapy or Counseling
Therapy or counseling are also commonly used to treat postpartum depression. You can find a therapist or counselor who specializes in birth trauma or postpartum disorders. Some forms of therapy that might be used include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
- Group Therapy
- Couples Counseling
Find a therapist who specializes in reproductive trauma or postpartum depression to discuss the right type of counseling for you. They may also recommend a mix of both antidepressants and therapy to help you recover from your postpartum depression symptoms.
At Rivia Mind, we focus on a holistic view of wellness beginning with individual healing and branching out to the healing of relationships. We work with psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, nutritionists and more who can help you manage and reduce your symptoms of postpartum depression. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a free 15 minute consultation.