Postpartum depression affects one in seven mothers — and yet, society still stigmatizes maternal mental health. That’s why Chrissy Teigen launched #MyWishForMoms, an initiative that highlights postpartum depression and anxiety, alongside Allegheny Health Network.
“When I was approached with this opportunity — to help be the voice for women experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety — I thought, ‘this is perfect,'” Teigen said in a press release. “I’m grateful to be able to use the platform that I’ve been given to reduce the stigma that many women feel when talking about these very real and treatable conditions. I wish I had known that postpartum depression can happen to anyone because I didn’t think it could happen to me. Here I was, with my perfect little Luna and a supportive husband, yet I was truly struggling.”
The National Institute of Mental Health explains that postpartum depression can cause emotional distress, including feelings of sadness, anger, and anxiety, in mothers that can make caring for a new child difficult and can impact family relationships.
Teigen tweeted out a request for moms to share stories and tips for those living with PPD on Thursday morning and has since received hundreds of responses, including advice for new mothers to “take a break” when needed and calls for paid parental leave.
It’s Maternal Mental Health Month. Let’s help all the moms who may be going through #postpartumdepression. Post what you wish you knew or had done when you were going through it. #MyWishforMoms And, if your family needs help, check out https://t.co/Hm4KxDCn07
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) May 2, 2019
Teigen has been open about her battle with PPD after her daughter’s birth and even penned an essay about her experience for Glamour.
“I couldn’t figure out why I was so unhappy,” she wrote. “I blamed it on being tired and possibly growing out of the role: ‘Maybe I’m just not a goofy person anymore. Maybe I’m just supposed to be a mom.'”
She explained that she always felt tired, unalive, and unlike her self. She slept downstairs, stopped eating, cried sporadically, and cut off communication with family and friends. Finally, she revealed her symptoms to her doctor, who confirmed her diagnosis.
“Postpartum does not discriminate,” she concluded. “I couldn’t control it. And that’s part of the reason it took me so long to speak up: I felt selfish, icky, and weird saying aloud that I’m struggling. Sometimes I still do… I’m speaking up now because I want people to know it can happen to anybody, and I don’t want people who have it to feel embarrassed or to feel alone.”
That message has carried over into her current campaign, and Teigen met with mothers to talk about their feelings and experiences.
“I felt like nobody was talking about postpartum depression, and it was even hard for me to say the word ‘depression,'” Teigen shared with one mother. “It’s still really hard… There’s just so many emotions and moods that go through it. I remember being so frustrated with myself for feeling frustrated, and then that would pile up… It started out, like, I’m tired, and then it just became a tornado of debilitating sadness.”
Opening up about PPD can be stressful and scary, but it’s vital to know that help is available. Those experiencing PPD and anxiety symptoms can always call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Hotline at 1-800-622-HELP free of charge 24/7 all year round. Additionally, they can seek in-person or online support groups.
Other options include speaking to mental health professionals or visiting a perinatal mental health center, such as the Allegheny Health Network Women Alexis Joy D’Achille Center for Perinatal Mental Health in Pittsburgh.
The U.S. has a long way to go to destigmatize PPD and anxiety, starting with normalizing conversations, eradicating shame, and making treatments, such as Zulresso, the first FDA-approved PPD drug, more affordable and accessible.
For now, joining Teigen in conversation is a great way to highlight the real issues hundreds of thousands of women experience every year. Mothers deserve better, and, together, we can lead the change.