Being hormonal isn’t something a woman wants to hear, but in some cases, it’s truth leads to an explanation for sadness following the joy of birth. To have a healthy pregnancy, a woman’s body increases her estrogen and progesterone levels; then after childbirth, these hormones begin to fluctuate.
As her body changes once again, emotions can start to shift. Like a newly pregnant woman feels tired, nervous, and sometimes anxious, so can a woman who has just given birth. Only this time, she’s less likely to understand how she can be so happy and sad, all at the same time.
Women who struggle with depression are most likely to experience post-partum depressive disorder after childbirth. For some, the emotions last up to a year, but for others, this can become a life long battle. Women who have never had depression and are generally happy with their lives can also experience PPD, which can be confusing.
PPD symptoms such as feeling lost or hopeless, sadness, anger, bouts of moodiness, inability to sleep or eat, or a loss of drive to do things, including self-care are part of what post-partum depression looks like. The difference between PPD and clinical depression? PPD is triggered by the hormonal changes taking place in a woman’s body and can subside once these hormonal changes return to normal levels.
The confusion leads to shame, and also the primary reason women are afraid to seek treatment. Shame can make a woman feel afraid that she’s crazy or could lose her baby or be considered incapable of being a primary caretaker.
Alienation also takes place as a result of trying to hide these strong emotions. It’s important to know that women aren’t alone when it comes to PPD. Thankfully, some celebrities have spoken out to provide a light at the end of the tunnel.
For example, Marie Osmond, a woman who struggled with depression as a child, experienced PDD, after her 8th child, and she wrote a book about her battle in 2001.
Other famous people who have come forward and shared their own battles of postpartum depression. Brooke Shields is the first most memorable celebrity who discussed her feelings in 2005 and was ridiculed by Tom Cruise for using antidepressants shortly after delivering her daughter into the world. She shared her story in a book called “Down Came The Rain: My Journey Through Post-Partum Depression.” Courteney Cox’s depression hit hardest 6 months after her baby was born.
Family members who notice a significant drop in the productivity of a mother who has just given birth can be a primary source of help and support. Giving the mother encouragement is a big help. Being there and listening. Taking on some of the extra housekeeping duties that add to the feelings of overwhelm are also a big help. Encourage her to seek additional medical attention and to work closely with a health care team are all great ways to support mothers during this tough time.