Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Delayed Postpartum Depression

I recently talked with a friend who shared her story with me, here's a quick summary

Eight months after her son (child number 2) was born she started breastfeeding him less as he started eating more solids and she found herself in a slump. She was embarrassed, ambivalent, and had all the signs of postpartum. She set up a doctors appointment and her doctor confirmed what she didn't think was possible - she was experiencing postpartum depression...8 months after giving birth. Crazy!

Her doctor said it can happen up to 18 months after giving birth. I've done a little more research and am finding a lot of scholarly articles that say it can manifest itself up to two years after having your baby.

I had not idea! I thought if I made it through the first couple months I was fine - just something to think about. Have any of you experienced delayed postpartum depression?

I wish there was more information out there about it - I really couldn't find a lot. Here are a couple of links to research article summaries...
The last article found that...

"Among participants, 11.5% reported prenatal onset, 22.0% late postpartum onset, and 66.5% early postpartum symptom onset. Those reporting pregnancy onset were more likely to be unmarried, and those with a late postpartum onset were less likely to report a past history of postpartum depression."

That's almost 25% of cases being late or delayed onset...who knew!?

Postpartum is more common than we realize - and if you do experience symptoms, don't be embarrassed! Just talk to you doctor and get the help you need to enjoy your time with your new bundle of joy.


  1. Barb,
    Another interesting twist to this is even moms who adopt can go through the post pardem experience. Part of what makes this difficult is it would seem where we didn't give birth to our child we could and should be spared this difficulty. But that is sometimes not the case. I've had friends who have suffered silently after adopting because they think they are just losing their minds and are ashamed of feeling this way. In reality.....they are feeling the normal change that happens when bringing a new little one into the family. The body still reacts to having a baby around and therefore some suffer this depression, just hopefully not silently.

  2. Here's a place you can find everything you need to know about PPD:

    And it's not at all unusual for people to develop, or recognize, symptoms any time in the first year. If they haven't been treated, it can go on past that time as well.

  3. I am currently experiencing delayed postpartum depression. I experienced it immediately following the birth of my first child and was sure that at 4 months postpartum I was "in the clear". Wrong! My 2nd son is now 7 months old and I am beginning to feel as though I might come out of it soon. I am so grateful to know that it's "normal". You know? Thanks for posting this! It's hard for women to admit something's going on.

  4. In my research on postpartum depression I was surprised to find that to be "officially" diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD), a woman had to meet the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV) criteria for major depression with a postpartum onset criteria of 6 weeks. Several websites I looked at said that PPD could happen anytime during the baby's first year. Even the American Psychological Associations pamphlet on PPD & Anxiety states that "[PPD] can appear days or even months after delivering a baby." The DSM-IV is under revision and in an article in the Archives of Women's Mental Health, Marie-Paule Austin (professor of psychiatry at the Univ. of South Wales, Australia), makes some points to be considered to address this discrepancy. Of relevance to late on-set of PPD, she recommends "[b]roadening the onset specifier to include all mood disorders occurring in the first 6 months postpartum." This still does not seem long enough but it's significantly longer than 6 weeks. It's important for mothers to know that PPD can occur much later and that they should not suffer silently. PPD is treatable and the mother-child bond doesn't have to suffer.


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