You’re at Risk for Postpartum Depression Much Longer Than You Think​

Save article
ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Updated
Mar 2017
Hero Image
Photo: Thinkstock/The Bump

If you’ve made it through the first year of motherhood relatively unscathed, congratulations! It’s a trying time for your mental health, sometimes tainted by baby blues or postpartum depression. But a new study out of Australia warns you might not be in the clear yet. In fact, maternal depression is more common at four years following childbirth than at any time during the first year.

This may sound a little doom-and-gloom. But the point is that it’s normal to feel down even as your baby enters toddlerhood — and if you find yourself that way, you’re absolutely not alone. The study, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, found that 1 in 3 women reported depressive symptoms during the first four years of motherhood, and that the prevalence of those symptoms was 14.5% at the 4 year mark. That’s higher than depression reported at any other time during the first year of baby’s birth.

Some women were more likely to have this later postpartum depression than others. Risk factors included being previously depressed, being a younger mom (18-24 years old), experiencing partner abuse, or undergoing stressful life events.

Is this preventable? Not entirely. But it’s important to do some self-checks for signs, so you can identify any problems early. It’s a serious medical condition experienced by 10 to 15 percent of new moms, and may require therapy and/or medication. If depression, irritability, and lack of interest or focus do not subside in a few weeks, your OB is the best starting point for help.

As Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, previously told The Bump, you should seek help if you’re already feeling depressed during pregnancy. One of the most proactive things you can do is become part of a supportive community. Take prenatal classes, or hop in any of our Bump Community Boards.

The authors of the Australian study are ultimately calling for more research, and more resources for monitoring moms’ mental health. It’s a serious issue, and seeking help is the right move for you and your family.

Have you experienced postpartum depression?

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.