Now added to our list of courageous, badass woman: Hayden Panettiere, who publicly confirmed that she’s checked into a treatment center to deal with her postpartum depression (PPD). The 26-year-old Nashville actress, whose character on the show coincidentally suffers from PPD, had said in a TV interview last month, “There's a lot of people out there that think that it's not real, that it's not true, that it's something that's made up in their minds, that 'Oh, it's hormones.' They brush it off. It's something that's completely uncontrollable. It's really painful and it's really scary and women need a lot of support.” She’s totally right, which is why we’re sorting some of the fact from fiction below.
Myth: It’s Normal to Be Depressed After Having a Baby
Truth: Up to 80 percent of new moms get the "baby blues," which involve a moderate amount of teariness and stress (because hello, crying baby!), the first few weeks after childbirth. But when those feelings endure or intensify so much that they affect your ability to function, odds are you’re dealing with PPD and should seek out some help.
Myth: Only Birth Mothers Are Affected
Truth: Actually, any parent can struggle from depression associated with having a new baby. A study published in JAMA found that around 10 percent of new dads suffer prenatal or postpartum depression (peaking at around three to six months after birth), and adoptive parents (gay or straight) are at risk, too.
Myth: Symptoms Appear in the First Three Months After Birth
Truth: Studies show that women with severe postpartum depression sometimes experience symptoms while they’re still pregnant. Meanwhile, other women won’t develop PPD until almost a year after childbirth.
Myth: Women with PPD Cry All the Time
Truth: Tears are certainly a symptom, but the depression can manifest in other, less obvious ways—some women lose their appetite, have trouble sleeping, struggle with anxiety or panic attacks, have difficulty concentrating, harbor obsessive thoughts and/or feel inadequate. Another reminder that smiley photos on Facebook don’t always mean everything’s okay on the inside.
Myth: It’s a Sign of Weakness
Truth: Hardly. Aside from the fact that giving birth is basically a superpower, PPD has nothing to do with how hard someone’s trying at the whole mothering thing. What is to blame: a massive drop in hormones including estrogen and progesterone, sleep deprivation, and the truckload of emotional challenges that arise when you have a baby.
Myth: Every Pregnancy Will Result in PPD
Truth: Scared to get pregnant again because of an earlier struggle with PPD? According to the American Psychological Association, less than half (an estimated 41 percent) of women who have already experienced PPD will deal with it again.