I received the following email from a reader of Postpartum Progress, and her story was so interesting to me that I wanted to share it with you. I don’t doubtsome of you have had an experience similar to hers. What so many people don’t understand is how little training physicians receive on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and how wrong they often are about the information they give their patients. Here’s the email:

“I just LOVE that you have on your website:

[Postpartum depression] can show up any time in the first 12 months after having a baby (or after having a miscarriage, a stillbirth, or an abortion, in fact). Most often, it rears its ugly head sometime between three and four months after the baby is born, but it wouldn’t be unusual if it showed up earlier or later.

Everything I read from the literature given at the hospital, my doctor’s office and on major websites all stated that PPD occurs up to 4-6 weeks after delivery … so when I was four months postpartum and the baby was sleeping and I wasn’t and was having major anxieties about driving and sleeping and still having crying outbursts I kept thinking ‘Well, it couldn’t be PPD because that only occurs right after the baby is born … something else must be majorly wrong with me’

With the love and support of friends and family, I was able to get the help I needed. I am now 16 months postpartum and got my life back. I’m having the time of my life with my son and am luckily able to balance a great career.

I hope that your education will extend somehow to the other literature that is out there. It’s 4-5 months or later that it can really hit some women and not necessarily right after the baby is born …”

So many women don’t think they have postpartum depression or related illnesses because they believe if it hasn’t shown up in the first few weeks it can’t be PPD. While it may in fact actually start in the first few months after chidlbirth, some women may not notice it until much later in the first year. And others have told me they really were doing okay until months later.

Here’s an example of this I found this week in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, in a sidebar piece to an article on depression:

Postpartum depression, which is diagnosed if a new mother develops a major depressive episode within one month after delivery. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.

One month! The paper notes that the source for this information is the National Institute for Mental Health. UGH!!

I’d love to hear from those of you whose postpartum depression showed up later — or at least you didn’t recognize it until later. Did you also feel that it couldn’t be PPD?