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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.
The 26-year-old’s TV character Juliette Barnes is also struggling with postpartum depression, which Panettiere has said she can relate to.
“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.”
But Panettiere’s struggle seemed to be behind her. She posted the following message on Twitter late last week:
While it may seem unusual for a mother to seek treatment for postpartum depression when her child is nearly a year old, experts say it actually isn’t. “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, tells Yahoo Health. “It can happen any time in the first year after a baby is born.”
Karen Kleiman, LCSW, director of the Postpartum Stress Center, and author of several books on postpartum depression, including This Isn’t What I Expected, tells Yahoo Health that she sees women in her facility at any point in the first postpartum year “and sometimes beyond.”
Kleiman says women may wait to seek help because family and friends tell them their symptoms are normal or they confuse them with the “baby blues.”
“Baby blues occur within the first two to three weeks postpartum,” Kleiman says. “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.”
Anxiety is another big indicator of postpartum depression, Lamppa says, adding that it’s different from basic new-mom worries in that every thought turns into a worst-case scenario.
The public often has an incorrect impression of what constitutes postpartum depression, which Lamppa says can be dangerous for the 15 percent of new moms who experience it.
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.”
These feelings and symptoms can persist for long periods of time and can even get worse if they’re not treated. It’s possible to get better without treatment, Kleiman says, but it’s also possible for women to continue on with a “low-grade, high-functioning form of depression” that can last for a long period of time.
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.
“People just need to realize that this is not a shameful thing,” says Lamppa. “It happens to more people than you realize.”
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