In Their Own Words: 10 Famous Women Who Suffered Postpartum Depression and How They Got BetterMonica Bielanko
About 13 percent of women who give birth develop postpartum depression, a serious, long-lasting condition that’s more than just “baby blues.” Half of those women develop severe postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression affects a mother’s relationship with her baby, other children in the family, her husband, studies have even shown it can affect the baby’s behavior.
The good news? More women are coming forward to publicly talk about their struggles with PPD. Their bravery and openness goes a long way in removing the stigma that many women experience – specifically that they should feel guilty about their feelings and they are somehow failing at motherhood.
Exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and other stressors take their toll. Postpartum depression can happen to anyone, including new dads!
Below you’ll find ten famous women who suffered from postpartum depression. They talk about their experience and explain what finally helped them recover. A common thread you’ll notice is that many of these women thought postpartum depression meant you spent all day crying. Not necessarily. Depression is a subtle, sneaky sucker. Particularly if you’ve never experienced it before. You feel feel horrible. Then you feel horrible for feeling horrible all the time and think there’s something wrong with you or you just don’t have the motherhood instinct and you don’t realize it isn’t your fault. As Marie Osmond says, “That’s the sad part about depression, is it really takes away all your logic, your rationale.”
Courteney Cox 1 of 9What it felt like: "I went through a really hard time not right after the baby, but when (Coco) turned 6 months...I couldn't sleep. My heart was racing. And I got really depressed." Cox has also said she felt suicidal and wanted to kill herself by "driving her car off a cliff".
How She Got Better: "I went to the doctor and found out my hormones had been pummeled." Taking the steroid hormone progesterone helped Cox. She also got support from close friends including Brooke Shields, who famously suffered and conquered her own bouts with postpartum depression."
Heather Armstrong 2 of 9What it was like: "I stood in front of the medicine cabinet in the kitchen trying to figure out whether or not I had the nerve to take an entire bottle of Risperdal. I thought about suicide every day during those months. I thought about how I would do it; perhaps I would hang myself with the dog's leash, or maybe I'd grab every single pill we had in the medicine cabinet and drown them with a couple of shots of tequila. I wanted to do something, anything to stop the pain."
How She Got Better: Heather checked herself into the hospital and a doctor she describes as her savior put her on large doses of three different medications — doses too large for a patient to take without round the clock monitoring. "He gave me enough drugs to kill a large rhinoceros," she said, "and it allowed me to sit still for the first time in seven months." That night she slept all night, for the first time since Leta had been born.
Gwyneth Paltrow 3 of 9What it was like: "I felt like a zombie. I couldn't access my heart. I couldn't access my emotions. I couldn't connect...It was terrible, it was the exact opposite of what had happened when Apple was born. With her, I was on cloud nine. I couldn't believe it wasn't the same. I just thought it meant I was a terrible mother and a terrible person."
How she got better: "About four months into it, Chris came to me and said, 'Something's wrong. Something's wrong'. I kept saying, 'No, no, I'm fine.' But Chris identified it, and that sort of burst the bubble. I thought postpartum depression meant you were sobbing every single day and incapable of looking after a child. But there are different shades of it and depths of it, which is why I think it's so important for women to talk about it. It was a trying time. I felt like a failure."
Brooke Shields 4 of 9What it was like: "I was not really aware that I had it [postpartum depression]. It was devastating to my whole family. I had gone through numerous attempts to have a baby and when I did finally have this perfect, beautiful, healthy baby and it all but destroyed me. I couldn't hold the baby, I couldn't do anything for the baby, I couldn't look at the baby. Every time I got near her, even the smell of the diapers of the baby. I would… My knees would get weak. I would… I just cried all day long and I thought I'd made the worst mistake of my life. And nobody around me had ever seen me falter to that extent. I've always been the workhorse, the one you'd go to, just power through things. It all but flattened me."
How she got better: "I learned what was going on inside my body and what was going on inside my brain...I learned I wasn't doing anything wrong to feel that way. That it was actually out of my control...If I had been diagnosed with any other disease, I would have run to get help. I would have worn it like a badge ... I didn't at first but finally I did fight. I survived."
Marie Osmond 5 of 9What it felt like: "The hardest aspect of PPD or depression is the guilt that comes with it. I had always been a perfectionist, and I felt that I was failing at motherhood. I half joked that the hospital should be sued for negligence for allowing me to take the baby home when I was so incapable."
How she got better: "...When I saw that I wasn't functioning anymore for the people who I loved the most, which were my family, my children, I said -- it was the first time I really would admit to myself. That's the sad part about depression, is it really takes away all your logic, your rationale. It hits you absolutely at the lowest place. As I said, I'm really not thinking straight. For me to be thinking these things, I know they're not right, but, boy, do they feel right."
Image: Strengthen the Family
Bryce Dallas Howard 6 of 9What it was like: "It is strange for me to recall what I was like at that time. I seemed to be suffering emotional amnesia. I couldn't genuinely cry, or laugh, or be moved by anything. For the sake of those around me, including my son, I pretended, but when I began showering again in the second week, I let loose in the privacy of the bathroom, water flowing over me as I heaved uncontrollable sobs...I felt I was failing at breast-feeding. My house was a mess. I believed I was a terrible dog owner. I was certain I was an awful actress; I dreaded a film I was scheduled to shoot only a few weeks after the birth because I could barely focus enough to read the script. And worst of all, 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."
How she got better: "Little by little I got better. As it happened, the independent film I shot chronicled a woman falling deeper and deeper into her own insane delusions. The experience was serendipitous, just the material I needed to work on to help me to reconnect to my true feelings. Also, because I was working twelve to eighteen hours per day and shooting mostly at night, I had to rely on those around me to help care for Theo. In those weeks, a critical shift occurred...A friend invited me to a "pow-wow" of mothers (in a tepee nonetheless); there we talked about the trials and tribulations of motherhood. The woman next to me coined the phrase "post partum denial," and hearing her story helped me to understand my own....A woman suggested I read Brooke Shields "Down Came the Rain." Her book was a revelation."
Amanda Peet 7 of 9What it felt like: The 36-year-old actress tells PEOPLE that the feelings of euphoria she enjoyed while pregnant "all came crashing down the second [Frankie] was born;" expecting to feel "fulfilled," Amanda says she instead felt "sleep-deprived beyond belief" and ambivalent about motherhood.
How She Got Better: "I want to be honest about it because I think there's still so much shame when you have mixed feelings about being a mom instead of feeling this sort of â€˜bliss'...I think a lot of people still really struggle with that, but it's hard to find other people who are willing to talk about it…."
Carnie Wilson 8 of 9What it felt like: "I cried all day over everything...It's a physical feeling. I don't know how to describe it. You're overwhelmed with love and joy, then sadness and fear. 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."
How she got better: Wilson recovered gradually, with the help of some hypnosis tapes given to her by her therapist. "He takes me to a hypnotic state and repeats life-affirming words that help me have the confidence that all will be all right with my child," she says. Lola also ended up being a lifesaver. "Part of what helped was that I got into a routine with the baby," she says. "I love breast-feeding her. She latches on and looks into my eyes and it's the most wonderful feeling."
Lisa Rinna 9 of 9What it was like: "I had visions of knives and guns. I made Harry (husband Harry Hamlin) hide all the sharp knives and take the gun out of the house because I had visions of killing everybody. Now how horrific is that?"
How she got better: "People don't talk about this. It's very, very scary and vulnerable... I found help and got through it."
If you think you might be suffering from postpartum depression get help by clicking here! You are not alone.