26 July 2010

Celebrities Who Fought Postpartum Depression

*** Two Hollywood celebrities are sharing how they suffered with postpartum depression after the births of their children, hoping others will seek help.

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow at Toronto International Film Festival, photo by AP

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow suffered from postpartum depression

From Denny: Postpartum depression cuts across all economic, race and cultural lines to affect new mothers just after giving birth. It may be their first, second or even third child. Each pregnancy can be different from previous ones.

The tough thing about this disorder is that it makes a woman feel such low self-esteem that she doubts her ability to be a good mother, even months after the birth. Too many women feel they are alone in feeling this way.

Celebrity actress Gwyneth Paltrow and "New Moon" star Bryce Dallas Howard have decided to go public with their personal trials and painful experiences to help other women suffering from this particular and other mood disorders. They are hoping other women will quit hiding their suffering and seek help. It's OK to admit they are not as excited to be new mothers as they thought they would be. If you are experiencing this, see your doctor and talk it over to see if this could be an issue.

Women are society's primary caregivers around the clock

As it is women are the primary caregivers in society, caring for the new born as well as the aging parents or grandparents in their last years. Women carry a lot of the long term stress of physical and emotional burdens of society, especially in America. Women tend to attribute these negative feelings to something else, not realizing they may be suffering from postpartum depression or perhaps a generalized depression. A generalized depression could be a result of sleep deprivation and a poor diet. Once those factors are addressed the depression can easily lift.

Here is how Paltrow described how she felt immediately following the birth of her second child, son Moses: "It was one of the darkest and most painfully debilitating chapters of my life." It was a surprise to her since she had such a wonderful experience after the birth of her first child. She said she experienced an incredible euphoria and was expecting the same after this second birth.

How many new mothers suffer pregnancy related mood disorders?

According to the medical site, WebMD, there are about 800,000 women each year in America who just don't experience that sense of wonderful joy after giving birth. That's about one in five new mothers, about 20 percent, who suffer from perinatal mood disorders.

Pregnancy related mood disorders don't always present as depression, though these are the most common. In some women they can appear as anxiety or panic disorder, agoraphobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Fewer still suffer from intrusive, unwanted thoughts that are frightening to them because those thoughts are about hurting the baby. So, they tell no one about those destructive thoughts which only makes matters worse.

Bryce Dallas Howard's struggle with postpartum depression

Bryce Dallas Howard revealed how she was struggling with postpartum depression after giving birth to her son in 2007. "In those moments after giving birth, I felt nothing," she told People Magazine. "I definitely felt I was a rotten mother - not a bad one, a rotten one. Because the truth was, every time I looked at my son, I wanted to disappear."

Howard went on to relate she tried to distance herself emotionally from her son by referring to him as "It" instead of by his name. She also said she could not tolerate breast feeding him because of the intense pain.

More women need help than seek help. About 80 percent of new mothers do experience some of the "Baby Blues" as doctors label the experience. However, sometimes, doctors can confuse the Baby Blues with serious postpartum depression so it's important to seek a second opinion if you are told not to worry about the depression or negative thoughts you are experiencing.

Baby Blues versus Postpartum Depression

How do you know the difference? Baby Blues can be similar to a mood disorder yet those symptoms fade away within a couple of weeks as your body gets its balance back hormone wise.

So how can you know if what you are feeling is within the range of what's considered normal or if it's something far more serious? Karen Kleiman has written several books about this subject. She is the executive director of the Postpartum Stress Center in Rosemont, PA. She tells new mothers and pregnant women to "Trust your instincts and if you think something isn't right, it probably isn't." Don't override those instincts with the doubts of second guessing; get some help. Kleiman said, "It doesn't mean something terrible is going on, but you should get help."

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