Post-Partum DepressionI suffered from this after my first child, but did not seek any professional help. Thankfully, my case was not as severe as this woman's case, but I think either way it is...

Post-Partum Depression

I suffered from this after my first child, but did not seek any professional help. Thankfully, my case was not as severe as this woman's case, but I think either way it is frightening that not many people know about this disorder.

Take a look at famous examples like Brooke Shields and Andrea Yates, and discuss how the stigma of mental issues affects those who have the disorder. Also, this is a disorder that only women can have; discuss this in terms of societal views of women, especially in light of raising children.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

Considering “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Gillman as an example of post partum depression is an interesting concept. The story points at the patronizing and dismissive attitude of the husband and the male doctors is appalling. And yet in today’s society, it is perhaps an attitude that is still prevalent.  After having my three daughters, I suffered mild post partum depression. Fortunately, I had both a husband and a mother who were extremely supportive of me. What seems to be the saddest thing in all of the most notorious cases of post partum depression is that the women didn’t seem to know that they were suffering from this. Perhaps ob/gyns and prenatal classes should beef up the education in this area. Then more new mothers might realize the signs and symptoms and realize as well that they are normal and can be helped.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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What is also fascinating in the story is that the narrator has points where she is indeed lucid and can function perfectly well. What I found most distressing is that with post partum depression you are 'not mad all of the time' for want of another expression. Women are certainly capable of functioning at many daily tasks - I know women who have held very responsible and influential job positions - and yet there are areas of delusion that can be profound and disturbing.

Also I found that when I had my son the (hugely under-resourced) midwifery system decided that I was at a low risk of post partum depression because of...my postcode. Fewer ladies in the nice part of town would suffer from that kind of problem. That was 2002. Have we really moved on far enough from the story?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I agree with all of the posts' input offered.  I am surprised that while advances are being made in the field, the topic of post- partum depression still is relatively misunderstood.  The case of Andrea Yates as mentioned above is an example where many people are unclear as to the potentially destructive components within post- partum depression.  What I found most revealing in the short story was how far ahead of its time it was.  Its articulation of a condition in the nineteenth century is something that seems even more relevant now.

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drmonica | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

I also suffered post-partum depression after the birth of my first child; it frightened me enough that I adopted my second child rather than go through it again. My episode was mercifully brief, but I can remember as though it was yesterday instead of twenty years ago the conviction that there was no way I could take care of my baby. He was born on a Tuesday and by Friday night, I had decided to take him to town and try to find someone to give him to. I got dressed and my husband asked why; when I told him, he called the doctor, who got on the phone with me and reassured me that my feelings were real but temporary and due to hormones. He told me to come in if I didn’t feel normal by Monday, and he told my husband not to leave me alone with the baby under any circumstances.

I had great sympathy for Andrea Yates, the Texas mother who had had five children in almost as many years and was expected by her husband to homeschool them and spend every waking minute with them. I believe that she was overcome by severe post-partum depression when she drowned the children; she belongs in a mental institution, not a prison. Her husband is the one who should be in prison, but he was able to divorce her, remarry, and go on with his life. Society views a woman who kills her children as the worst of criminals; I don’t doubt that there are evil women who do murder their children, but I think that in many cases, physical and hormonal effects of pregnancy and childbirth are the culprits, not inherent evil.

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The stigma of mental issues affects to the person who suffers them in that Psychology (as a field) is not an actual medical science due to its lack of empirical and quantitative research, and due to its focus on qualitative and analytical research. Yet, if u think about this, a psychologist's qualitative approach far surpasses a psychiatrist's (who is a medical doctor) prescription-based treatments. A woman who suffers post-partum (as Brooke Shields said herself) may need medication, but sometimes the lack of listening ears make the situation far worse. Women in this situation (and Mary Osmond had a really hard time with it too), have to stay strong for their families, and yet deal with these horrible feelings on their own for the fear of not anchoring the family.

I cannot think of something more horrific than ur body giving up on u to the point that it alters ur state of mind during a time where all should be positive, healthy, and new/. And not being able to be there for ur new baby who instinctively and biologically needs a mom?  It breaks my heart.

My sister in law went through two episodes of severe PPD, and we all felt her pain. We had to take turns with the baby since she had to be hospitalized for devere depression. The baby needed her mom- not us. It was amazing to me how complicated things can get with illnesses like this. It is truly a sad, sad situation

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sharrons | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

There has long been a prevailing attitude that mental problems are, indeed, "petulant fits" as cadena has so well put; that somehow mental illiness is simply a weakness of character.  This perception of weakness is what has given people a stigma as mentioned previously.

The patronizing tone of John, the husband of Gilman's character, conveys this attitude that has been prevalent for so long.  But, in addition to the advances in research, the fact that more and more people suffer now from stress and anxiety in modern society,and more women are in the workplace where this stress and anxiety occurs, it seems that people are becoming increasingly empathetic to others, as well as understanding of those who also are, as Frost writes, "acquainted with the night" of mental problelms.

Since the time period that "The Yellow Wallpaper" was written, mental illness (including Post Partum depression) is now more widely accepted as being a true legitimate illness.  It (Post Partum Depression) has be given attention in the national media, which generally leads to a greater acceptance.  However, it should be noted that we have yet to really see Post Partum Depression play out on the big screen or the small screen.

In someways, our culture sees this and other mental illnesses as a sign of weakness---something that a person should just "get over."  However, like I stated previously, the prejudices agaings mental illness are nowhere near they level that they were during the time period that "The Yellow Wall Paper" was written.

 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There has long been a prevailing attitude that mental problems are, indeed, "petulant fits" as cadena has so well put; that somehow mental illiness is simply a weakness of character.  This perception of weakness is what has given people a stigma as mentioned previously.

The patronizing tone of John, the husband of Gilman's character, conveys this attitude that has been prevalent for so long.  But, in addition to the advances in research, the fact that more and more people suffer now from stress and anxiety in modern society,and more women are in the workplace where this stress and anxiety occurs, it seems that people are becoming increasingly empathetic to others, as well as understanding of those who also are, as Frost writes, "acquainted with the night" of mental problelms.

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Our understanding of depression in general has improved rapidly in recent years, largely as the result of continuing scientific research into the physiology of the human brain. As medications have become available to treat depression, advertising has become common to present them to the public. This has made the public much more aware of general depression as an illness, and the social stigma associated with it is slowly fading. However, a general discussion and awareness concerning post-partum depression, especially in its extreme forms, has not worked its way, yet, into the public forum. Without factual information, it cannot be recognized and understood. As research continues, this should become an illness that is diagnosed more quickly and treated more effectively by physicians and understood with more compassion by members of society.

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In our society, mental illnesses in all forms are often regarded with a wary judgment and startling insensitivity.  There is often the attitude that the person suffering should "just snap out of it," like they are just throwing some sort of petulant fit, or being difficult just for attention.  Part of the reason for this is that people aren't very educated about disorders, and don't realize the full debilitating capacity that they have.  Plus, often, afflicted people act in bizarre and startling ways, that people often choose to be amused by; think of how schizophrenics are portrayed as being comical in movies, or on t-shirts (of the "I hear voices and they say they don't like you" variety), or those with Tourrette's syndrome being found hilarious for their outbursts.  People are frightened of mental illness because they imagine themselves in the same situation and it's scary, AND, they are ignorant to the true nature of the diseases, so aren't as sensitive as they could be.

In Post-Partum depression, it is difficult because only women suffer it.  Because of this, men can't really grasp or relate-this doesn't help with perceptions that the mother is just acting crazy.  And, women who have not suffered it, or who have not had children, don't understand how difficult it is.  They find the fact that a woman would want to harm their child, or not be able to care for their child, unthinkable, and so pass judgment.  It is completely out of their realm of comprehension--most people's comprehension that is, unless you have experience some form of depression before and hence know what it is like.

Societal views of women have become, over the years, of the attitude that women can do it all, and should be able to do so without any problems whatsoever.  The feminist movement pushes for equality with men, and empowerment through careers and jobs.  If you have children, fine, but because you are a woman, this should be no problem.  On the other hand, women who choose to stay home with their children are backed by a belief that motherhood is the most empowering act for a woman, and so a mom should be loving and enjoying every single second of it, and their children.  Either way, not much room for sympathy for a woman who has a child and struggles with enjoying it, or feeling okay in their choice.  Women who seek help or medication are scoffed and judged from all angles.

It's a difficult situation, and that is why I think that so many women were impacted by Gilman's story; she received letter after letter from women thanking her for writing the tale, and relating how they struggled too, but could never talk about it for fear of being considered overly-dramatic and whiney.  Through exposing the intense trials associated with post-partum depression, Gilman let women know they are not alone, and that it is a real, vicious and difficult trial to undergo.  Knowing you aren't the only one is such a great relief!  Admitting it exists and isn't just a passing phase or your own weakness is such a great relief!  Hopefully, women can become more educated about it, and more sympathetic to others experiencing it, encouraging them to seek help and support.

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