Why Postpartum Depression Never Really Ends for Some Moms

Save article
ByKylie McConville
Updated
Mar 2017
Hero Image
Photo: Lia and Fahad

New research published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry found that though symptoms of postpartum depression decrease over time, depression still remains a long-term problem for 30 to 50 percent of affected women.

Led by Dr. Nicole Vliegen at the University of Leuven, Belgium, researchers performed a critical review of the research on postpartum depression from 1985 to 2012. They focused on the course of postpartum depression during follow-up visits. When researchers analyzed the data from follow-up studies of women with postnatal depression, they found that scores for depressive symptoms decreased over time — but never totally disappeared. When they analyzed community-based studies, they found that at least 30 percent of moms with postpartum depression were still depressed up to three years after delivery.

For patients receiving medical care, they found that 50 percent of women remained depressed throughout and, in most cases, beyond their first postnatal year. And when researchers looked at the median rates of persistent depression, they found that 38 percent of women were depressed one year later.

The researchers wrote, “Families with mothers suffering from postpartum depression need the engagement of clinicians who are sensitive to the signs of the depression potentially becoming chronic.” And because parental depression can adversely affect a child’s long-term development, Vliegen says that the study also highlights the ongoing need for support during early childhood and beyond for moms.

They added, “Clinicians need to be aware of mothers’ previous episodes of depression and possible contextual factors heightening vulnerability for a chronic course of depression.”

Did you suffer from postpartum depression? What tools helped you get through?

Related Video
Save article

I’m an OB and I Suffered From Postpartum Depression

Temeka Zore, MD
OB-GYN and Infertility Specialist

Reese Witherspoon Opens Up About Struggle With Postpartum Depression

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
04/17/2020

New York City Will Now Provide Home Visits to First-Time Parents

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
02/13/2020

Ashley Graham Opens Up About Struggles of Postpartum Recovery

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
02/11/2020

General Anesthesia May Increase PPD Risk After C-Sections, Study Finds

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
02/11/2020

This Mom’s Photo Series Highlights the Beauty of Postpartum Bodies

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
12/17/2019

When Breast Isn’t Best: Mom Shares How Breastfeeding Triggered Her PPD

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
07/09/2019

Victoria’s Secret Model Explains How PPD Can Be ‘Spiraling’ for New Moms

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
06/24/2019

Most People Don’t Recognize Postnatal Depression in Men, Study Shows

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
05/14/2019

This Dad Lost His Wife to PPD—Here’s What He Wants You to Know

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
05/08/2019

Chrissy Teigen Has One Powerful Wish for Moms Everywhere

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
05/03/2019

FDA Approves First Drug for Postpartum Depression

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
03/20/2019
Article removed.