Removing The Stigma of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression

Photo Courtesy of Forsyth Family Magazine
By Jonathan Kistner
Follow me on Twitter @JonAshKis

Postpartum depression doesn’t discriminate. Women of any socioeconomic status, age, or race can be affected by it. Some reports indicate you may be more susceptible to postpartum depression if you have a family history of depression. Yet, there is no one cause for PPD. Physical, emotional and lifestyle stressors are often considered to be triggers.

THE STIGMA

Back in 1999 the U.S. Surgeon General considered stigma to be one of the chief obstacles to mental health care. Many of us know that stigma sets people apart in a negative way, forcing them to be “the others” or different. When a person is labelled solely by their illness, they are more likely to experience prejudice attitudes or even discrimination.

A 2006 study out of Australia found that 1 in 4 people would not even employ someone with depression because they felt it was a sign of personal weakness. With stats like those, it's no wonder those with mental illness tend to isolate themselves from others; this occurrence is known as social distancing. 

THE MOM WITH PPD

When the stigma lessens around mothers with postpartum depression, they will finally be able to receive the help they need. Instead of ostracizing new moms, it’s important to create safe, healthy environments. Women who experience PPD are likely dealing with symptoms of anxiety, irritation, exaggerated manic mood swings, or feeling emotionally numb. Throw in the stigma and now they’re juggling feelings of hopelessness, shame, and a hesitancy to seek help.

WHAT WE CAN DO

As a society we must challenge the stigma. It is our responsibility to create a mentally healthy community that supports recovery and reduces discrimination.

Here are a few ways to help:

  • Speak up! Have open conversations about mental health with friends and family. Help to dispel their false beliefs and negative stereotypes.
  • Share your own experience with mental illness. There’s no need to hide, or be ashamed of a part of you. The more you discuss the issue, the sooner it will be normalized.
  • Learn and share the facts about mental health and mental illness. Do your best to correct false and exaggerated depictions of mental illness in the media.
  • Offer support to people when they are physically or mentally unwell
  • Don’t label or judge people solely on their mental illness.

There is help and there is hope.

The information contained on this site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant.