How long can post natal depression last if untreated?

Are you a new mom experiencing feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, and sadness? If so, it could be postnatal depression (PND). But don’t worry. You’re not alone in this. PND affects up to 20% of new moms worldwide.

However, if left untreated, PND doesn’t vanish like the mysterious missing sock after laundry day. So how long does it last? In this article, we’ll explore that question and more.

What is Post Natal Depression

Before getting into the details about how long PND lasts when untreated let’s first understand what postnatal depression actually means.

Postnatal depression refers to mild/moderate/severe depressive symptoms occurring within four weeks after delivery; if experienced beyond six months by a mother due to her child’s birth or age-related reasons(usually less than a year) ,it can be termed as postpartum disorder(ppd).

Catching signs of PPD from your end

Detecting the signs early on helps with better results.Any one or multiple among these are indicative –
1.What was exciting has turned burdensome & repetitive for example feeding/changing diapers.
2.Crying spells get uncontrolled/unpredictable –
3.Difficulty while making choices(recognition/memory issue)
4.Sleep disturbances(in any form- sleep apnea/respiratory issues /insomnia) etc.

Is it common?

According to researches out there: YES! It is one of the most commonly reported mental health disorders during pregnancy/post-delivering periods but still largely under-reported.Lack of awareness,cultural norms/stigmatization around women going through such phases play some fraction in keeping many cases shrouded.

So here’s our promise dear readers — we’ll steer clear away from stereotypes/pigeon-holing mothers whilst de-blowbyfying pnd to the best of our cognitive/creative powers.

How long can PND last?

It’s a tricky question and there are quite a few variables at play. However, on average, the duration is directly proportional to when treatment begins.

Without Treatment

PND can last anywhere from months to years if untreated! Yes,I wasn’t just being dramatic before. The frequency/severity and type vary with individuals/duration but in general it worsens over time.

No Timeline ??

Honestly,it’s hard to put an exact number or estimated period of suffering out their mainly because the causes, symptoms/presentation –all kinds–each taking central role for causing/decreased lifespan(surely decreased living) . So again without help ,the anomaly that is your depression may extend beyond maternity leave,loud late nights,squeaky toys and dodging pablum stains.

With Treatment

Treatment could involve therapy (group/individual), medication, lifestyle change(mentally physical exercises dedicated sleep routine/time-table), support groups etc.While it won’t redefine happiness instantly like Grand Theft Auto cheat codes,having access to ample resources increases chances of earlier healing.. Sooner one starts seeking/maintaining recourse better & faster results appear.Meaning? quicker recovery!

Again,specific/spanned timeline cannot be provided since each individual case differs.However,to have an idea- about 70%-80% cases resolve within approximately within 6 weeksof appropriate course of action.When diagnosed early enough several waiting-lists/free sessions backed facilities tend to find relief much sooner compared to those missed.This cool chart below will give you more insight –

Time Since Delivery Likelihood of Recovery
        0-3 months                      Moderate
        3-6 months                         Slightly Lower
        6-12 months                         Lower
      More than 1 Year                     Least Likely
Chances of recurrence(boomerang/repeat journey?)

To be honest,there’s a fair chance postnatal depression may come back; while it varies based on the case history. Most likely if there remains underlying cognitive/physical causes or reason that were causing PND, otherwise the chances would remain higher for individuals already under risk category.
Women dealing with symptoms also tend at have prenatal depression in future pregnancies.So,in short don’t plan on throwing away ‘em antidepressants just yet but always speak to your healthcare practitioner about any mental health concerns.

What are some implications of leaving PND untreated?

The gestation process is highly ritualized and talked-about: from baby showers to pre-natal vitamins. That said,Mental Health often gets shoved under societal-rug because it isn’t always tangible or easily visible– Infact –a lot times,it does manifest into something physical(uncontrolled sobbing,constant after-delivery cold states,fatigue)—But those cries/whimpers/issues haven’t been as glorified as swollen feet/glowy skin ,because they might reflect poor mothering skills,right?Wrong!

There many more reasons why new moms feel what they feel/don’t even question and avoid getting help.But avoiding examining the intensity/frequency/cluelessness around emotionaliity can lead worsening conditions –

Self Harm

Some women may experience suicidal ideation.These thoughts can become overwhelming/uncontrollable without professional intervention/advice/counselling.Not necessarily out of impulsivity (though that could happen too) ,but maybe due noob feeling their infant deserves better,burdening others putting themselves first etc. Regardless,Suicidal tendencies should never go ignored.Distress centres like Beyondblue,Lifeline,samaritans provide 24/7 support for same.

Family Issues

When depression isn’t battled with in timely manner,its effects radiate onto members of immediate and/or extended family. With prolonged period of decreased emotional health,such mothers tend to become more agitated & vulnerable than usual which then amplifies conflict/trust issues within spousal or parental relationships further.In some cases,abuse – physical/vocal ,neglect in care to infant for example . All can occur as a result of PPD left untreated so it’s important to seek help in on time


In short,left unchecked/unaddressed Post-Natal Depression can stretch looooong after the baby bump deflates months into years.
However,fear you not dear reader! If you’re feeling down,it’s essential to speak up/reach out.So,don’t wait– schedule an appointment ASAP with your healthcare practitioner.Therapies/treatment options are available/can be tailored according to individual preferences.Plus there now exist groups and forums that cater specifically easy discussion mechanism/helpdesk guidance for new moms dealing with depressive tendencies- like PANDA,or postpartum support international if one is more comfortable sharing virtually –
Besides,you’ve already made it past midnight feedings,morning-sickness,stress-hives/gas congestion – this too shall pass.

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