Drew Barrymore’s Postpartum Depression Battle: ‘I Really Got Under the Cloud’

“I didn’t have postpartum the first time so I didn’t understand it because I was like, ‘I feel great!’ The second time, I was like, ‘Oh, whoa, I see what people talk about now. I understand,’” Drew Barrymore, actress, writer, and mother of 2 told People magazine for this week’s cover story, published on Wednesday.


Drew Barrymore. (Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage)

What is it like to have two daughters, Olive, 3, and Frankie, 18 months? “It’s perfect and totally imperfect,” a refreshing outlook from a woman who has such fame.

Barrymore described the term of her postpartum depression as “short-lived, probably six months,” but she is grateful nonetheless for the experience because of the reminder to live in the moment.

Although Barrymore’s experience wasn’t long in duration, for many women that isn’t the case. “The public has an idea that postpartum depression is just in the short term, but it certainly is not,” Julie Lamppa, RN, a certified nurse midwife at the Mayo Clinic, told Yahoo Health. “It can happen any time in the first year after a baby is born.”

Barrymore continued her interview talking about being an example of a hard worker to her daughters, and trying to avoid the negative stigma of going to work. “I want them to see that work can be a good, positive, fun, happy thing. I’ve worked since I was 11½ months old so I have to be able to work, too. But I have to put them first. I don’t know if it’s good enough for anyone but I’m doing my best.”

And Barrymore isn’t the only public figure who recently came forward with postpartum depression. Earlier this October, Nashville star Hayden Panettiere entered a treatment facility for her postpartum.


Hayden Panettiere takes a walk with her husband Wladimir Klitschko and baby Kaya Evdokia. (Photo: SBMF/Dunkin D/FAMEFLYNET PICTURES)

Panettiere, whose daughter Kaya Evdokia is 10 months old, has been candid about her struggle with the disorder.

“It’s something a lot of women experience,” she said last month on Live! with Kelly and Michael. “When [you’re told] about postpartum depression you think it’s ‘I feel negative feelings towards my child, I want to injure or hurt my child’ — I’ve never, ever had those feelings. Some women do. But you don’t realize how broad of a spectrum you can really experience that on. It’s something that needs to be talked about. Women need to know that they’re not alone, and that it does heal.”

“Baby blues occur within the first two to three weeks postpartum,” Karen Kleiman, LCSW, director of the Postpartum Stress Center, and author of several books on postpartum depression, including This Isn’t What I Expected, told Yahoo Health. “But symptoms beyond two to three weeks such as crying too much, feeling constantly irritable, feeling bad about attaching to your baby, or having scary thoughts — it is not baby blues and it is not OK.”

As Panettiere pointed out, many people think postpartum depression involves having thoughts about harming your baby or yourself, but Lamppa says that’s a “much rarer” symptom known as “postpartum psychosis.” Most women who suffer from the disorder experience a range of symptoms that may have nothing to do with their feelings toward their baby.

“Often mothers with postpartum depression are incredibly good moms,” says Kleiman. “They’re very good at taking care of their baby, not at taking care of themselves.”

Once women realize they need help, Lamppa says it’s important to turn to their OB/GYN, general health provider, or a therapist who they’ve previously worked with for assistance.

Treatment typically involves talk therapy and may include antidepressants. But experts stress that women can — and will — recover from postpartum depression.

Related: Hayden Panettiere Enters Treatment for Postpartum Depression: The Truth About This Misunderstood Condition

- With additional reporting by Korin Miller.