Depression overwhelmed Benta Sims soon after she gave birth to her first child 16 years ago. Her obstetrician's advice -- have a cup of hot tea and buy yourself some new clothes -- didn't help, the Arlington resident recalled.

"I [still] spent my days crying," said Sims. It took her seven months to be diagnosed with postpartum depression (PPD) and several more months to feel better, after treatment with an antidepressant and talks with other women with the condition. About 10 percent of new moms develop PPD, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Today, Sims helps run a Fairfax-based support group called Beyond PPD to help women diagnosed with PPD. The group is sponsored by Women's and Children's Wellness Foundation, Inc.

One of her first tasks, said Sims, is to reassure women their PPD will end. Tricia Nelson of Centreville, who first attended a Beyond PPD meeting last November, said she felt comforted to see others who had "managed through." Sims and two co-facilitators also counsel moms by phone; facilitators' husbands field calls from dads to discuss how PPD can affect the family -- and how dads can help.

The Fairfax group meets the first and third Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The next meeting is Sept. 18. To learn more, call 703-536-9469 or 703-893-2876.

A Washington-based PPD support group -- sponsored by the Family Mental Health Foundation -- meets every other Wednesday evening: The next meeting is Sept. 22. For location and times, call 703-282-5896.

-- Samantha Ganey

About 10 percent of new moms develop post-partum depression.