How Long Does PPD/A Last?

By Andrea Paterson

Many women suffering from Postpartum Depression and Anxiety want to know how long they can expect their symptoms to last. We all wish that there was a magic cut-off time when we could expect our mood to return to “normal” and knowing that the condition is temporary can be healing in and of itself. The length of a PPD/A episode is, however, complicated and there is no single unifying experience. But we can talk about the range of normal experiences in order to provide some context.

PPD/A is generally defined as depression or anxiety arising within the first 4-6 weeks after having a baby. But recent research is suggesting that this timeframe is unrealistic. PPD/A can begin before a baby is born and arise at any time within the first year after having a baby and possibly many years after that. Some new research suggests that maternal depression may be most common around the time your child turns four. Click here to read more about this. The main point is that more and more researchers are realizing that PPD/A is not confined to the time directly after having a baby and there is a wide range of onset periods with a corresponding wide range of resolution periods.

How long it takes to feel better can depend on a huge number of variables including the severity of your PPD/A, how long you waited to reach out for help, whether or not you have a history of anxiety and depression, what your home environment is like, how much support you are receiving, and how dedicated you can be to treatment and self-care practices. The website Postpartumprogress.com has an excellent article on the six major variables that can affect your recovery and I definitely recommend giving it a read. It can be viewed here.

There is a pervasive notion that PPD/A should be over by the time your baby turns one. Know that while research on PPD/A beyond the one year mark is still minimal, research is showing that it’s fairly common for symptoms to persist even when you have older children. This isn’t to say that you will never feel normal again, but it’s important to note that depression and anxiety wax and wane and you may experience relapse of symptoms or persistent low-level symptoms over time. Scientific American has released an article noting that Postpartum Depression might be better categorized as Maternal Depression in order to avoid the assumption that only mothers with very young babies suffer from mood disorders. You can read the article here.

The key thing is that no matter how short-lived or pervasive your PPD/A symptoms are, you can most definitely get better. You will not feel depressed or anxious forever if you receive proper treatment and care. Things that may minimize the amount of time you suffer from PPD/A include:

  • Recognizing the symptoms and getting help early
  • Self-care practices
  • Support Groups
  • Consultation with your doctor about medication options
  • Developing a personal support system that may include a partner, friends, or parents
  • Private counselling services

PPD/A can feel like a never-ending journey. It’s completely normal to be afraid that you will never feel well again. Let me assure you that you will! But it’s a process that involves delving deeply into your own sense of self, and creating the necessary support systems can take a significant amount of time. Be gentle with yourself.

It may also help to see the PPD/A period as a unique opportunity for self-examination and exploration. In his book Dark Nights of the Soul, Thomas Moore attempts to re-frame depression as a necessary period of inward journeying that allows a person to make exciting new discoveries about who they are and who they are destined to be. PPD/A is a period of intense change and transformation but it’s possible, amidst the chaos and pain, to gain very positive benefits from the experience. Many women say that PPD/A made them stronger in the end and put them more deeply in touch with their own needs, desires, and convictions. It’s sometimes hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re mired in the very centre of PPD/A but know that it’s there waiting for you and the world on the other side might be more glorious and beautiful than you ever imagined.

The Pacific Post Partum Support Society offers telephone support and group support for women suffering from PPD/A. Both support systems are proven to improve outlook for women suffering from PPD/A. Partners of women with PPD/A are also encouraged to use the PPPSS telephone support service. The earlier you reach out the better off you will be! You can contact a telephone support facilitator by calling 604.255.7999 in the Lower Mainland or toll free 855.255.7999. Support facilitators can also provide more information about support groups in the Vancouver area.

 

Andrea Paterson is homemaker and mother to a very active three year old boy. In the spare seconds when she is not chasing her preschooler she works as writer and photographer. She also manages to read voraciously in two page increments throughout the day. Andrea is a grateful prior client of the Pacific Post Partum Support Society and cannot recommend the services of this organization highly enough. That this sort of support is freely available is an extraordinary gift.

42 Responses to “How Long Does PPD/A Last?”

  1. Cindy

    I have ppd ppa and harm OCD and I need help in finding the right answers, please help

    Reply
  2. Natasha Wright

    I wouldn’t wish this on my enemy this ppd/ppa. I had struggled with anxiety’s for 4 years. It’s the worse since I had my baby 12 days ago it always triggers at night. Can anybody give me advice without always taking the drugs….. because I really falling in a depression state……. thank you in advance!

    Reply
    • Andrea Paterson

      Please feel free to contact the counsellors at PPPSS if you need someone to talk to! Counsellors are always there to help you find the best path for you postpartum.

      Reply
  3. Susie

    My daughter is 4 n I still don’t like being a mother will ppd ever go away so I can enjoy motherhood or will I always be unhappy?

    Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      Hi Susie… If you are still struggling it is important to get support, parenting is hard! and different stages have different challenges. Sometimes it is an extension of PPD/A and maybe gone into a more clinical depression. Sometimes it’s a matter of looking at what else is contributing to not feeling better. We would be happy to explore with you further if you want to call our support line at 604-255-7999. Although our services are for moms up to their youngest child being 3 years old, it can be helpful if you are struggling to talk to a counsellor here who can help guide you to other supports as well as explore what is happening now and before.

      Reply
  4. Murk Ashfak

    My son is 2.5 I have Ben to counseller feeling good intially but again it hits me very bad. Will I eevr feel happy and content again?? Do anti depressent makes u addicted? Once the anxiety is gone it will come again and hit me back again

    Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      Hi Murk… it is not unusual for people to feel better but than to have a relapse or increase in symptoms at times. Generally people will notice that they don’t feel bad for as long or it doesn’t happen as often as they get better. However, if you are still really struggling it’s important to reach out, give us call and/or reach out to your counsellor again. You should feel more like yourself as time goes on. For some people anti depressants help and for some it is a time limited treatment and for others it may be that they need to stay on antidepressants longer. They are not addictive although your body does need to wean off of them if you choose to stop. It is really important to have a doctor involved with any medications. Please call our support line if you would like to debrief more, we are available Mon to Fri 10 to 3 p.m. 604-255-7999 or toll free 1-855-255-7999.

      Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      Hi Rachael.. would you be able to call in to our support line at 604-255-7999 anytime between 10 and 3 p.m. Monday to Friday. I know that it is really hard to see the light at the end of tunnel especially if it has being going on for a long time. We can help!

      Reply
  5. Renee

    I need help !!! I been holding in a lot since the day I had my son . He will be 3 in March and I haven’t spoken to anybody About how I feel . I feel like I will snap at any moment and it’s nothing towards him , I love my son but since I had him I don’t love myself or anyone else . It’s really starting to bother me . Some months I’m okay and other months I can’t take it !! Idk what to do

    Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      Hi Rene… postpartum distress and recover is often an up and down experience like you describe, people often refer to it as a “roller coaster”. Also if you don’t get the treatment you need in the first year or so, it can become more of a clinical depression and so really important that you can get assessed so that you can feel better! I think it’s really important to call us, or talk to your doctor. Sometimes we can help to untangle what it is that’s contributing to your ongoing distress so that you can feel more at peace etc… let us know if you want our help!

      Reply
  6. BreAnna

    I get so many feelings of doom and guilt… fear and nervousness… panic nausea you name if. I just want to be normal but I’m so scared of taking medication!! My son is 4 months now. It seems like I start getting scared in the evening time.

    Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      Hi Breanna… It sounds like you are experiencing a lot of anxiety which is not uncommon during the early months postpartum. Not everyone takes medication, there are other things that can help. Sometimes medication can really help, but it doesn’t have to be the first option. It might be good to give us a call if you can to our support line and we can help you to find the right treatment, support etc… so you can get some things in place that will help you. Call 604-255-7999.

      Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      Hello Kaushi… I’m not sure of the time difference etc… but you can call us in Vancouver, B.C. at 604-255-7999 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday to Friday, if that works.

      Reply
  7. Amber

    Do you have any virtual meetings? I am suffering, but live overseas. Are the meetings/resources/counseling free?

    Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      We do telephone support however we don’t have a toll free line outside of Canada. If you would like to call us though, we would be happy to talk to you. This service is free, (except for your long distance phone costs). We don’t have any virtual meetings right now but please call if you can we have supported people overseas often. 604-255-7999, our hours are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Vancouver time. If you need a call in the evening we can sometime arrange for that as well.

      Reply
  8. Maria

    Hi my child is 3 and I have not been the Sam since I had him I’ve got 2 older children and it was nothing like this I just don’t feel myself anymore and I don’t reall want to go on antidepressants how long does ppd last for without medication becouse I’m 3 years on and still not the person I was before I had my 3 year old

    Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      Hi Maria… I would encourage you to give us a call if you can. we can probably help you to sort out what else you might be needing. Sometimes antidepressants really help but I do understand the reluctance that a lot of people can have. Again, if you would like to call us we can help you! 604-255-7999 or toll free 855-255-7999.

      Reply
  9. Missy

    Hello,
    I’m a first time mom at an older age. Never planned on having children. My daughter is 9 months now and i still have moments of fear and doom. I also have some moments of anxiety and find myself getting emotional. I’m on a high dose of an antidepressant and still feel this way? I’m scared I will stay this way forever.

    Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      Hi Missy… It can take a long time to get better, but it is so hard to believe it will get better when you are struggling. So many moms I talk to say the same thing. They are worried and afraid that it won’t get better. PPD/A is highly treatable but it does take time. I would encourage you to give us a call if you are able at 604-255-7999 or toll free 855-255-7999. we can help you to get some more answers and support you!

      Reply
  10. Mary

    Hi.
    I have a 3 year old 5 year old and 6 and a half year old I was diagnosed with pnd in October.. I love my kids but feel trapped..my husband is great but I feel nothing.. Will it come back..I’m exhausted from worrying..I’m on medication last 3 months .. Will it take time to work..do u feel less love when depressed and anxious .
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      Hi .. Yes, it takes time! It can be so hard when we don’t have more immediate results from taking medication, but it does take time to work, it’s best to let your doctor know that you aren’t noticing a big difference yet, because it could be that you need a higher dose. Depression and anxiety can definitely interfere with your feelings of enjoying your children and can get in the way of all the good feelings when we are depressed it is like a blanket that covers all of the good feelings. We would love to talk to you more if you are able to call us at 604-255-7999 (you can also text on Wed. and Fridays if you prefer) or toll free 855-255-7999. We can help you with figuring it all out if you open to reaching out to us.

      Sheila

      Reply
  11. Ang

    Hi my 3rd baby is 4 Months old I bonded with her and love her. But my anxiety has been really bad again keep picture I will harm her and feel nothing for her but I do love her can get this out of my head.driving me crazy . I feel like all my feeling s have been turned off for her.

    Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      Often anxiety can manifest as intrusive thoughts, which usually involve harming coming to your baby or child. Sometimes it is intentional harm by the mom. Which of course is very upsetting for moms to have these thoughts, they are just thoughts and the best thing to do is to not attach to them ie: worry about them or apply meaning like “how can I think this” “I must be a terrible person” etc… but to instead, just say “oh there is that weird thought again” and just let it go by. if you want to talk to us you can call us at 604-255-7999 and we can support you. If these thoughts are happening a lot and interfering with you enjoying your baby then it it’s important to get more help and treatment. Medication or CBT have been shown helpful in diminishing the anxiety surrounding intrusive thoughts, so it will feel less intrusive! there is a book that you may find useful as well called “Dropping the Baby and other Scary thoughts” by Karen Kleiman. Overall whatever you can do as far as self care that also lowers your anxiety will help indirectly as well.

      Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      Hi Andrea.. Please give us a call at 604-255-7999 or text. We can help you to get the supports you need. Many new moms and parents have intrusive thoughts and it is always upsetting to have these thoughts. They are actually quite common during the postpartum period. There are lots of things that can help… if you are open to calling us, we can help you with some tips of what helps when you are having these thoughts and also what can happen with your overall anxiety etc…

      Reply
  12. Cassidy Bowser

    Hi im Cassidy, although i have not been properly diagnosed i know i have PPD/A because ive never felt like this until i had my daughter. It all started when.. well i should say it hit me pretty hard and suddenly when she was 11 months. She is now 21 months and i just want to feel better. Motivated, happy. Im on 150mg of zoloft and 60mg of Latuda. I just recently found out im pregnant 6 weeks and im freaking out and feel my progress is now in reverse. I feel terrible tired and can enjoy hardly anything. Any help will be greatly appreciated!!

    Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      Hi Cassidy… it would be great if you can give us a call at 604-255-7999 (or text). We can definitely help! I know that it can be a setback when you are newly pregnant and the important thing is reaching out. We can help you to sort through your feelings and help you to find the support you need. Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you! I would also talk to your doctor if you haven’t already, about your medications as it might be that they need to be adjusted. Anyway, if you are open to calling, we can talk about it.

      Reply
  13. MarcelaM.

    I just started taking Zoloft yesterday and I started getting major anxiety/panic attacks. Is this normal? I also lost my appetite which fed into my anxiety even more because I’m breastfeeding.

    Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      It can happen when you first go on antidepressant medication that your anxiety is heightened and those symptoms and side effects often lessen with time. However, if it’s been a few weeks and you don’t notice them lessening then letting your doctor know is important. He/she may start you at a lower dose or change meds etc… The best thing to do is to let your doctor exactly what you are experiencing so that you can be monitored closely as you adjust etc. Call us if you want to talk about it more! 604-255-7999 toll free 855-255-7999.

      Reply
  14. CAROLINE

    My baby is 8 months old,I have PPA very high I feel palpitations,heat,dry mouth,dizziness.wat can I do n how long will I feel this way?am worried.

    Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      Have you seen your doctor? If you haven’t it is a good idea to go and have a general check up as well. Blood test for iron levels and get your thyroid checked to just rule out anything physical that may also be contributing to your symptoms.

      Anxiety is quite common postpartum and can be debilitating, some anti depressants can be really helpful that will target anxiety more than others. But there are also other tools and things that can help overall with your anxiety. If you are able to call us for support we can help you with figuring out what to do etc. Call our support line at 604-255-7999 or toll free at 855-255-7999. There are also some websites that may be helpful ie: http://www.anxietycanada.com has a section for “new moms” that you may find useful.

      Reply
  15. Nonye

    The insomnia aspect of ppa is my major worry. Though it has improved but can’t I stop having insomnia. My baby will be 3 months this month. Please help

    Reply
    • stace

      It is probably the hardest thing to go through when you have PPA and can’t sleep… Please call us if you can at 604-255-7999 or toll free 855-255-7999. You can also text on our support line above. We can then help you with strategies and talk more about your experience and see what will help.

      Reply
  16. Erika

    My daughter is 2 and half and I still struggle being a mother on a daily I don’t know what to do about it anymore but I need some help I live in Long Island New York is there any resources for me here

    Reply
  17. Sienna

    Im a first time mom and my son just turned 2 months old. I don’t necessarily get depressed but at times im constantly feeling that i cant do this, im not gonna be able to be a mom. I get ALOT of anxiety and have breathing problems after i had him, what can i do to help it go away and will i stay feeling anxious about anything n everything

    Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      HI Sienna…. what you describe is something I have felt myself and also hear from other moms all the time. Especially with a 2 month old, it can be pretty intense as you are still going through huge changes and adjustments… If you are still struggling with anxiety there are things that can help. If you are able to call us on our support line at 604-255-7999 we can help you to untangle things and look at what would best help you during this time. It’s also a good idea to talk to your GP. postpartum anxiety will get better but it’s important to get treatment and support to find the things that will help with your unique situation etc.

      Reply
    • Sheila Duffy

      Hi… I’m wondering if you are able to text us, we don’t generally do support over email due to possible issues with protecting your information. However, if you can text us on our support line, (604-255-7999) it is on a secure software site. If this isn’t possible, please let us know and we will work something out with you.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)