In Depression Awareness Week having just been in April, it’s important to remember that new mums are particularly susceptible to postnatal depression type of depression (PND). Some brave celebrity mums have opened up about their struggles with PND, helping to reduce the stigma associated with the condition.
6 Celebrities Speak Out
Around half of all new mums experience the so-called ‘baby blues’, a mild, short spell of depression that’s so common it’s considered normal. But did you know that as many as 1 in 10 new mothers develop PND, a serious and sometimes long-lasting condition? Health campaigners fear the numbers may be even higher because new mums may not know, or want to admit, that they are suffering.
PND can be hard to talk about, especially when you’re in the public eye. But some brave celebrity mums have opened up about their struggles with postnatal depression, helping to reduce the stigma associated with the condition…
Brooke Shields was one of the first celebrities to speak out about PND in her 2005 book, Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression. The actress and former Calvin Klein model developed the condition almost immediately after giving birth to her daughter Rowan in 2003. “I couldn’t bear the sound of Rowan crying, and I dreaded the moments when my husband would bring her to me. I wanted her to disappear. I wanted to disappear. At my lowest point, I thought of swallowing a bottle of pills or jumping out the window…The drugs, along with weekly therapy session, are what saved me – and my family.” Shields says she feels “compelled to speak not just for myself but for the hundreds of thousands of women who have suffered from postpartum depression.”
Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow also found that PND made it difficult to bond with her second child, Moses, born in 2006. “At my lowest, I was a robot,” she told Vogue UK. “I just didn’t feel anything. I had no maternal instincts for him – it was awful. I couldn’t connect and still, when I look at pictures of him at three months old, I don’t remember that time.” She admits “I just didn’t know what was wrong with me…my husband actually said ‘I think you have postnatal depression.’”
Singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette gave birth to her son, Ever, in 2010 and developed “baby blues” shortly afterwards. “The degree and intensity of my postnatal depression shocked me,” she told People magazine. “I felt as if I was covered in tar and everything took 50 times more effort than normal. I wished I could have cried but there was no relief during that time.” She now aims to help other mums: “I think if there is any goal in me talking about it, it would be to eradicate the shame around it. It’s just what happens sometimes and, for me, I just waited way too long to reach out for help.”
Just a few months after Brooke Shields went public, Friends actress Courteney Cox revealed to USA Today that she had also suffered from “delayed postpartum depression” after the birth of her daughter in 2004. “I went through a really hard time…not right after the baby but when [Coco] turned six months old. I couldn’t sleep. My heart was racing. And I got really depressed. I went to the doctor and found out my hormones had been pummelled.” She took the steroid hormone progesterone to help combat her condition.
Loose Women presenter Andrea McLean told the Daily Mirror: “Mentally, I had not returned to my normal happy self after having Amy, something I denied for a long time – until the blackness became too big to cover with a smile…I went to my doctor and tearfully admitted I thought I had postnatal depression. She smiled and said it was a wonder I had coped for so long and she gave me some tablets that changed everything. I know some people think antidepressants are a crutch…but they are wrong.”
During the recent year, in September 2015, one more celebrity, Hayden Panettiere, a Nashville star, revealed her experience with postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter Kaya Evdokia in December 2014 and her changing attitude to this phenomenon. In her interview to Live! With Kelly and Michael she said “It’s something that I can very much relate to, and it’s something that I know a lot of women have experienced,” she told the hosts. “When they tell you about postpartum depression, you think about, ‘Okay, I feel negative feelings towards my child, I want to injure my child, I want to hurt my child’—I’ve never ever had those feelings, and some women do.” Two weeks after her interview, the 26-year-old’s rep confirmed in a statement that she was “voluntarily seeking professional help at a treatment centre as she is currently battling postpartum depression.”
Treatments for PND
There are many factors influencing the occurrence of, and treatment for, PND. Mothers recognising the problem is the most important first step, according to a comprehensive guide from the the NHS, which goes on to list exercise, self-help, talking therapies and antidepressants as common treatments. Check out our FitMama app for mum-friendly workouts here. And for more information on PND treatments, go to NHS site.
Don’t sit on PND
Hopefully you will never have first-hand experience of PND. But if you think you, or someone you know, may be suffering from the condition then it’s important to talk to a doctor about it. Mind Charity have a great website, find out what PND is symptoms and more here. You can also find help at the following organisations:
Below are UK organisations but for the rest of our Real Mums, we’ve found the BEST website listing all organisations who help Post Natal Depression Worldwide here!
Pre and Post Natal Depression & Support
Helpline: 0843 289 8401
Website: panda www.pandasfoundation.org.uk
Association for Post Natal Illness (APNI)
Helpline: 0207 386 0865 (10am-2pm Monday to Friday)
National Childbirth Trust (NCT)
Helpline: 0300 330 0700 (9am-7pm Monday to Friday)
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