Someone who just gave birth may feel what many call “baby blues.” However, if feelings of sadness last for longer than 2 weeks or become so intense that it becomes difficult to function, these could indicate postpartum depression (PPD).Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2018 found that around 1 in every 7 women reported symptoms of PPD in the first 2–6 months following childbirth. Some people develop symptoms early, while others may develop them months later.
Guidelines published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) note that up to 25% of men can experience PPD after the birth of a child, with rates reaching as high as 50% if the mother is also experiencing PPD.
This article looks at how long PPD can last. It also covers symptoms to watch for and options for finding effective PPD treatment.
Sex and gender terms
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “women” and “mothers” to refer to people who give birth to reflect the language that appears in source materials.
Postpartum depression timeline
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), “baby blues” tend to improve within a few days or 1–2 weeks and do not typically require treatment. According to the AAP, up to 80% of women experience baby blues.
The ACOG goes on to say that PPD often begins about 1–3 weeks after delivery, but it can also start up to a year later.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains that the timeline for PPD can vary considerably from person to person. The NIH quotes research from the journal Pediatrics that found that about 25% of mothers experience some level of PPD symptoms for as long as 3 years after having their baby.
The Pediatrics study evaluated the participants’ symptoms at 4, 12, 24, and 36 months after childbirth. In their analysis, the researchers identified four trajectories for PPD: