Postpartum Depression is a Non-Discriminatory Illness

In my practice of treating patients with Postpartum Depression (PPD), one fact has never changed: The condition is an equal opportunity disease, affecting the rich and poor, famous and unknown, and women of different ages, races, and religious affiliations.

The website, cbs.com, has published photos of celebrities along with their experiences, which the site considered an act of bravery because, of the “cultural stigma against discussing motherhood in less-than-glowing terms.”

By sharing their stories, these celebrities help shine a spotlight on a variety of symptoms recognizable to me, and will likely help other women feel less alone and disparaged.

A few have authored books and articles about their journeys; their words will surely add empathy for those who suffer. Here’s a line-up of the women and their PPD episodes:

Brooke Shields In 2005, she debated actor Tom Cruise who had criticized her use of antidepressants after the birth of her daughter. In her book, “Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression,” Shields talks frankly about her extreme, sometimes suicidal, feelings and concludes, “I survived.”

Amanda Peet believed her PPD may have been caused by a “really euphoric pregnancy.” According to Peet, her high expectations bumped up against the reality of caring for a newborn, and that landed her with “a fairly serious postpartum depression.”

Valerie Plame Wilson dedicated a chapter in her book “Fair Game,” to her postpartum depression. In that portion, she describes “crying uncontrollably and suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. My abilities to cope, problem solve, and adjust to new situations, abilities that had served me so well, were beyond my reach.”

Courteney Cox brings up an interesting fact that PPD doesn’t necessarily occur immediately after the baby’s birth. “I went through a really hard time – not right after the baby, but when she turned six months.”

Kendra Wilkinson admits to hygiene issues that are not uncommon. “After giving birth, I never brushed my hair, my teeth, or took a shower. I looked in the mirror one day and was really depressed. I thought, ‘Look at me!’ I had this glamorous life in LA, and now [in Indianapolis], I didn’t.”

Marie Osmond wrote of battling PPD in her 2001 memoir “Behind the Smile: My Journey Out of Postpartum Depression.” This followed the birth of her son Matthew, the youngest of her eight children.

Bryce Dallas Howard said she cried daily, wasn’t able to eat, and lashed out at her loved ones. “I screamed expletives… behavior he had never experienced in the seven years we had been together.”

Gwyneth Paltrow “At my lowest, I was a robot,” she said. “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.”

Carnie Wilson said, “You’re so afraid you’re going to fail this baby. What if you drop her or hurt her? She’s totally dependent on you and it’s scary.”

Lisa Rinna said that she feared her PPD would drive her to murder her family; she made her husband remove all the sharp knives and a gun from their house. This was likely an episode of postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, with symptoms of repetitive distressing thoughts and severe anxiety.

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~ by ppdsus on February 11, 2014.

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