Many women feel relief if they make it through the first few months with no sign of ongoing post-partum depression or anxiety. Having studied, and experienced, post-partum challenges myself I was curious to find this: an article published in Today’s Parent (Feb 2015) showed though that more women reported feeling depression at 4 yrs post-partum than in the first year.Mom and daughter

The study, published in the February 2015 issue of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (previously published online), asked more than 1,500 women to fill out surveys about their mental and relationship health when their babies were three, six and 18 months old, and again when their children were four years old. One in three women reported having depressive symptoms at least once in four years. In fact, 14.5 percent of women reported feeling depressed at four years postpartum, which was higher than any time-point in the first 12 months.” 

It doesn’t surprise me that with the intensity of child-raising and the changes in life that occur with being a parent, that depression can raise its head outside the post-partum year or two. I’ll have to explore other sources to see if these kind of stats have shown up in other studies. Thoughts welcome. To be continued…


  • Stephanie says:

    4 years coincides with kids going to kindergarten. There’s that grieving. And the changes they suddenly start going through that are out of our control, influenced as they are by outside social forces. (Comment sent by IM by BB)

  • Stephanie says:

    I haven’t looked at the study myself, but what stood out for me in the section you cited was that it said the rates were higher than at any other time. I’m assuming they meant in relation to other times in their study, because we know some studies have found an incidence of PPD as high as 20% in the first year.

    I was also curious to know if the study accounted for the number of children a woman had since we know more children can increase the incidence of mood challenges. Not that it really matters all that much…I think it’s important to just keep talking about mental health for mothers (and everyone), and help women realize their self-care and reaching out for support is essential for their own wellbeing and that of their entire family, so I’m really glad you’re keeping the conversation going, especially for women whose children are out of babyhood. (comment sent by email by L.

  • Stephanie says:

    i’d believe that to be fairly consistent. There is so much to do and adjust to in those first few years, the excitement of new things, and the pure attempts at surviving seem to dominate. Though my friends noticed that i was perhaps displaying some post partum depression early after m’s birth, i didnt really identify that at all.

    Mind you when four hit, i was certainly in a slump, makes sense too, given thats the first real adjustment towards independance, maybe we feel like we can give a little more reality to the situation, now that they arent on our hips,laps or nipples all the time. Given the external factors ie namely divorce, i would be hesitant to say my slump was specifically post partum related, but im sure there is the possibility it was tied in there. (comment sent by email by ES)

  • Stephanie says:

    Hmmm, I was 4 when my mom’s depression came on, but by then she also had a 2 year old at home. I can imagine that the combo of 4-year old willfulness and 2-year old wilfulness would probably be pretty overwhelming for a lot of moms. (comment sent by email by CK)