If the Baby Blues persist for two weeks or longer and/or if symptoms of the
blues intensify, it is then considered to be Postpartum Depression (PPD). 10-
20% of postpartum women will experience PPD.
Onset of PPD can be anytime during the first year after delivery, but most
women experience PPD between 4 and 8 weeks postpartum.
How long does it last? Symptoms of PPD may last from 3 to 14 months or
longer if left untreated. Though most women recover within a year, the
condition may become chronic without proper treatment. Chronic depression
may have significant effects on mother-baby attachment and bonding, and
therefore it is very important for mothers to seek professional help when
Symptoms of PPD include:
- Frequent crying
- Appetite changes
- Difficulty concentrating/making decisions
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Racing thoughts
- Agitation and/or persistent anxiety
- Anger, fear, and/or feelings of guilt
- Obsessive thoughts of inadequacy as a person/parent
- Lack of interest in usual activities
- Lack of concern about personal appearance
- Feeling a loss of control
- Feeling disconnected from the baby
- Possible suicidal thoughts
Although most symptoms of PPD are similar to those in a Major Depressive
Disorder, many symptoms are unique to PPD, including feelings of anger,
fear, or extreme feelings of guilt, obsessive thoughts of inadequacy as a
parent, extreme exhaustion yet difficulty sleeping, agitation, feelings of
disconnection from the baby, and feeling a loss of control over one's life.
Risk factors for PPD include: 1) personal history of PPD, bipolar, or another
mood disorder, 2) family history of PPD, bipolar, or another mood disorder, 3)
lack of stable relationship with partner and/or with parents, 4) previous
aversive reaction to oral contraceptives or severe PMS, 5) lack of social
support, 6) unrealistic expectations of parenthood, 7) history of infertility, 8)
woman's dissatisfaction with herself, 9) ambivalence about keeping the
pregnancy, 10) recent stressful event, 11) first-time motherhood.
Causes of PPD include: 1) biological/ physiological factors (genetic
predisposition, changes in hormones, severity of physical damage from labor
and delivery), 2) environmental factors (stress, feeling alone, lack of support),
3) psychological factors (things that affect a woman's self-esteem and the way
she copes with stress), or 4) infant-related factors (infants with difficult
temperament or colic, infants born with problems). **Most likely it is a
combination of some or all of these**.
Treatments include: 1) individual and/or couple's therapy, 2) group therapy
or support groups, 3) psychotropic medications, 4) practical assistance with
child care and other demands of daily life.
(Please see "Getting Help" section of this website for advice on seeking
If a woman experiences PPD, her chances of PPD with subsequent children