Statistics show that while most women experience some degree of the "baby blues" the first few weeks after childbirth, a much smaller percentage experience full-on postpartum depression (PPD) long after. So how do you know when you've crossed the line from a normal hormonal experience into a clinically unhealthy one? When can you be diagnosed with postpartum depression after the birth of a child?
According to Dr. Gabrielle Mauren, a specialist in Perinatal and Reproductive Mood and Anxiety Disorders in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, PPD usually starts one to four weeks after delivery, but can have a delayed onset. In an interview with Romper, Mauren emphasized the importance of recognizing the difference between typical and atypical postpartum experiences.
Maurin explains, "Postpartum depression is different than the 'baby blues' that 70 to 80 percent of all moms experience in the first two weeks after a baby is born. With the baby blues, women can feel sad or overwhelmed for five to 10 minutes at a time, but the condition does not inhibit her ability to function normally and she still feels like herself most of the time. However, if those feelings are happening most of the time or for an extended period of time, a woman may be experiencing postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety."
While Mauren's experience cites one to four weeks after delivery as the usual starting point for postpartum depression, she also mentions the possibility of delayed onset. Marriage and Family Therapist Jaime Filler in Atlanta tells Romper her practice frequently sees women only just beginning to exhibit signs of depression two to three months after having a baby, and that it is possible for the entire first year postpartum. Clearly there are as wide a range of experiences as there are women.
If at any time during the first 12 months after delivery your emotions seem to be controlling your life, you are a likely candidate for a PPD diagnosis. Never assume it's too early or too late to tell, and talk to a medical professional as soon as possible. Thankfully, you live in an age where women don't have to suffer in silence. Help and hope are only a phone call away.