How Long Can Postpartum Depression Last?

Hayden Panettiere, who has been so open about her journey with postpartum depression after checking herself into a treatment facility when her daughter was 8 months old, has recently gone public with her decision to seek treatment yet again

In May, she tweeted about how she hasn't been magically cured of her depression, but instead, that dealing with her postpartum depression is an ongoing struggle. She wrote: “The postpartum depression I have been experiencing has impacted every aspect of my life. Rather than stay stuck due to unhealthy coping mechanisms I have chosen to take the time to reflect holistically on my health and life. Wish me luck!”

{ MORE: This App May Help Us Understand Postpartum Depression and Save Lives }

With her baby 15 months old by then, Hayden's journey has drawn attention to the fact that postpartum depression doesn't just happen to mothers of newborns. But just how long after your baby is born can postpartum depression hit? 

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Image via Flickr/ Candace Nast

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that postpartum depression can happen anytime during your baby's first year of life, but unfortunately, even that timeline is more complicated than first meets the eye. There is no hard and fast cut-off time for depression and because we still don't understand all of the hormonal influences and triggers that go into postpartum depression, we can't say for sure how or when it will happen either. 

There are also two important considerations to think about when it comes to postpartum depression:

  1. Many cases of postpartum depression are thought to actually be undiagnosed depression than was happening before your pregnancy. So it may take some of the “triggers” of having a baby, such as stress and sleep deprivation, for that depression to become really evident. 
  2. The hormones of breastfeeding may also play a role. For example, with my fourth baby, I experienced an episode of depression with weaning that caused me some long-term complications that I'm still dealing with. So if you wean later than a year, you may need extra time for your hormones to level out. 

Moral of the story? If you are having any symptoms of depression, it doesn't matter how old your baby is — you deserve to get the help that you need. For all of your family's sake. 

Did you experience postpartum depression when your baby was older? 

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How Long Can Postpartum Depression Last?

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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