Postpartum Depression: How Long Does It Usually Last?

Countless women struggle with the baby blues immediately after giving birth. They may struggle with mood swings, crying jags, and anxiety. For some women, however, the symptoms drag on long past the two weeks when most moms get over the baby blues.

These women may be dealing with postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a mental illness brought on by hormonal changes in a woman’s body following the birth of a child. It is more common than many people realize, and the woman must be treated or the illness may persist.

How Common is Postpartum Depression?

The National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) reports approximately 15 percent of women struggle with postpartum depression. If a woman does not get treatment, the symptoms could remain for years. In fact, 30 percent of women report they still have symptoms three years after birth.

Fortunately, help is available, and women should reach out if they feel empty, flat, or sad for longer than 14 days after the baby is born. This is according to the Office on Women’s Health. In rare cases, a woman may be suffering from postpartum psychosis, which is a medical emergency.

Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression

Certain things may put a woman more at risk of postpartum depression. This includes a history of depression or bipolar disorder, a family member who has been diagnosed with a mental illness, or medical complications during the birth. Women who have experienced trauma around the time they gave birth are at higher risk of postpartum depression, as are mothers of medically fragile children.

Postpartum Depression Symptoms

Women may exhibit several symptoms when suffering from postpartum depression. They may feel anxious, sad, or overwhelmed and worry they cannot care for the baby. Many women experience crying jags and find they overeat or barely eat anything. The new mom may get angry easily or feel restless and cannot sleep. Certain women find their postpartum depression leads to physical complaints, while others struggle to complete daily hygiene tasks. No two women are identical, so the symptoms vary greatly.

Treating Postpartum Depression

Doctors may prescribe medication for women with postpartum depression and will choose a medication that has the least effect on the baby if the mother is breastfeeding. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is of help to some women, and many new moms take part in cognitive-behavioral therapy to address the symptoms of PPD. The mom can also take steps at home to reduce the symptoms of postpartum depression.

New moms need to get plenty of sleep and allow others to take on tasks they normally complete. A mom may want to do everything perfectly for their little one, but perfection is impossible. Moms need to remember this.

They also need to spend time with family and friends rather than isolating themselves. Talk with these individuals about the feelings the new mom is experiencing. A support group is also of help to women with postpartum depression. Finally, new moms need to eat a healthy diet and get exercise, even if this is nothing more than taking a walk around the block with the baby.

Any woman can find she has postpartum depression after giving birth to a child. Seek treatment right away, as it can help improve the mom’s quality of life while relieving her symptoms. Talk to a doctor right away to begin receiving this help, as the sooner the mom gets help, the sooner she and her loved ones can see an improvement in her symptoms and the accompanying benefits.

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