20 Things I NEVER Want To Hear Or Read Again, Postpartum Depression Edition

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stigmaHere are 20 things I don’t ever want to hear or read again about postpartum depression, and every other perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. (I have heard every single one of these, whether directed at me personally or in emails and comments from Postpartum Progress Readers who share their own stories with me.):

20 Things I NEVER Want to Hear or Read Again, Postpartum Depression Edition

1. Just [go for a walk/go out with your friends/have a drink] and you’ll feel all better.

2. If you just buy this book online, even though we don’t tell you what’s in it, you’ll learn the “cure” for postpartum depression.

3. In a news report on infanticide or any other child murder: She must have had postpartum depression.

4. Magazine or online article headline: 10 Easy Steps To Get Over PPD Now! (None of them will mention, of course, that getting over postpartum depression is not easy, and none of them will mention getting medical help.)

5. Women have been having babies for tens of thousands of years, and they got through new motherhood just fine. Toughen up.

6. I just finished my album/thesis/marathon/political campaign. This must be what postpartum depression feels like.

7. Maybe postpartum depression is God’s way of letting you know you don’t have enough faith. I think you should pray harder.

8. Here’s some information on postpartum depression I’m supposed to give you. You’re probably not going to get it, though, so I wouldn’t pay too much attention to it.

9. Quitting breastfeeding is selfish. The baby’s health is so much more important than yours.

10. I know breastfeeding is really important to you, but you have to quit so you can be treated for PPD.

11. This is the exact medication and dosage I took for my PPD. Just take that and you’ll be OK.

12.I would never take antidepressants. You shouldn’t need that stuff to be a mother.

13. Here’s a prescription.(No mention of side effects. No mention that it may not work. No mention of therapy. No mention of follow up appointments.)

14. You’re just mad the baby is getting all the attention.

15. PPD is just a fad. Only spoiled, Western women get it, and now that it’s “popular” on the blogs, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.

16. Can’t you see how lucky you are? You have a beautiful baby!

17.This will probably go away on it’s own, so don’t worry about it.

18. I wouldn’t talk about this with anyone. You don’t want them to think you’re crazy.

19. You don’t need to worry about your symptoms unless you’re having thoughts of harming your baby.

20. Postpartum depression isn’t real.

What would you add to this list? Put them in the comments section below!

Photo credit:  © Scott Griessel – Fotolia.com

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About Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

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  1. Wow, that was powerful. Thank you hun. I'm going to share this!

  2. Oh – here's one:
    "You're just using Postpartum Depression as an excuse to get out of being a Mom."
    Uh – NO. I'd much rather do the normal MOM stuff, thank you very much. Cuz this? The Postpartum Mood stuff? It really sucks.

  3. 1) You need to work out, because it releases endorphins in your body that make you feel much better!
    2) I'll watch the baby so you can go shopping.
    3) Let me try to rationalize with you! If somebody tells you that these things you're thinking will never happen, then maybe you'll just stop thinking them!
    4) OB: You need to take the Pill.
    5) Pediatrician: You really need to calm down!

  4. I don't know if it's common, but when I approached my OB about PPA, she was straight-up unwilling to entertain the notion that it was anything more than "back to work jitters."
    "You need to suck it up," she said, "That's how all working moms feel before they return to the office."
    However, it was not how all working moms feel before they return to the office. It was debilitating. Horrific.
    She made me feel weak when I needed to be empowered to do what was best for me and my son.
    Ugh.

  5. I had a friend who literally said "Can't you just talk yourself off the ledge so to speak?" in reference to my PPA and anxiety attacks. Needless to say I didn't speak to her for a few weeks, she just couldn't understand what I was going through.

  6. I heard number 12 alot… and when i finally was strong enough to tell people what I had gone thru some looked at me saying " i cannot believe you have to take medication, I never have had to do that." it made me feel like a loser.. it was horrible they way people make comments and what they say.

  7. or and the whole breastfeeding notion— To this day they make you feel like crap if you do not breast feed.. Doctors and nurses need to realize that sometimes babies don't latch or you have to take medication..for me it was both.. Everyone needs to be more sensitive to others… That was another comment that made me feel worse about myself

  8. interested in the di says:

    My personal favourites:
    "Ohhh, I had that for {pick a number from 1-5}days right after x was born, and it was horrible."
    "I think it is only people that have support that gets that, because people like me, who have no family around, just don't have time for that."
    "It is only intelligent women who get that."
    can you even believe in trying to validate (more like invalidate) my experience of hallucinations, I even heard:
    "I have nightmares like that all the time – so I know, it's just so tough!"

  9. When I told a friend I had finally seen the Dr about what was going on one of the first things she said was something along the lines of "Do we need to take your daughter away from you?" No questions, just assumptions!

  10. Love this post- you should add:
    "Do you LIKE being a mom?"
    My aunt said that to me when I was in the beginnings of a full PPD/PPA sleep deprived meltdown. Ugh. Way to show me support- thanks for helping boost my self-esteem. As if I hadn't felt like a failure enough already!

  11. I confided in a (former!) good friend about how I was feeling and what I was going through (with PPD, PPA, and PPOCD). I asked her "when will I feel like ME again? Will I ever go back to normal?" She replied with one sentence: It's NOT about you anymore.
    Oh yes it is! Happy, healthy mom = happy, healthy baby and family!

    • Oh yes, I’ve been told that I will never feel like me again. I know I’ll be a different me, but I still want to feel something more like what I was – happy, outgoing and energetic, rather than this sad, fat, lonely, whinger I feel like at the moment!

  12. #18 all that way!! That was/is my own biggest fear

  13. Lauren, I heard this one myself, coupled with the age-old question, "What did you expect?" after a similar meltdown.
    Thanks, Katherine! I'm sharing this one, too.

  14. So true! I too would
    Much rather experience motherhood and be a healthy mom for my child without PPD. And in havin it, that doesn't mean you can't be a good mom and survive AND come out better on the otherside. All of these "things I never would want to hear" miss the fact that you can still suffer AND be a loving mom. I wish people were more accepting of differences.

  15. #15 sounds like a snippet from a book I peeked at. =)
    From an RN birth educator: PPD? "None of my clients get that," said with a completely straight face. Okayyyy…riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

  16. Amazing post. Agree with them all. I remember hearing, " we all have days where we don't want to get out of bed". Or, "you don't need medication. Are you taking a daily multi vitamin??"
    the fact that this is such a taboo subject breeds this ignorance. Jeez- I'm going to shout from the rooftop- my name is Paula and I'm a PP manic depressive.
    Thank you!!

  17. Oooh, that one totally chapped my ass–"What did you expect?" I got a lot of that from people who didn't know me that well and thought i was just being dramatic. They would say "Well, having a baby is hard. You knew that going into this."
    DUH!

  18. The first thing my mom said to me when I told her I was going on medication for PPD was, "Did you even talk to an endocrinologist first? You probably just have thyroid problems." I was like, errr, I don't have time to talk to an endocrinologist, I'll throw myself out the window before I even get an appointment.
    It was frustrating, to say the least, that even my mother, who is very educated and knowledgable about women's health, wouldn't understand how insensitive that would sound to me. I chose not to take offense, but mostly because I had already made up my mind about medication and I didn't care what anyone thought.
    Anyway, about the list–two thumbs up.

  19. I simply had to come share this.
    This post got scraped by a bot-run website, and when I followed the link to confirm it wasn't a legit reposting, this was what greeted me:
    "FREE! "Discover The Secret To Breaking The Cycle Of Fear With A Tool
    That Will Allow You To Never Fear Another Panic Attack…""
    I have to say I laughed. But I have a twisted sense of humor.
    My contribution: This wouldn't be happening if you'd just radically change your parenting style, to the One Right Way. (from a mainstream advocate: "if you'd just let them cry", or from an attachment advocate: "if you'd just hold them all the time.")
    And another: "All your crying is bad for your baby, you know." (That one's great for antenatal mood disorders too.) Because everyone knows maternal guilt is totally the way to improve someone's mood.

  20. I loved this list! The phrase I heard a lot was "Are you sure you have PPD, you didn't have it when you had your other 3 kids?"

  21. I don't know if this is more typical with birth trauma, but my favorite comment was: "You should be happy, you have a healthy baby (also interchangeable with loving partner, job, house, food, etc.)." As if all of my problems stemmed from not being grateful enough. I'm sure they were absolutely correct, I should have just ignored the soul-crushing sadness, panic attacks, hallucinations, and apathy toward life and just reminded myself to be grateful for my healthy baby. That and some fish oil would have fixed me right up.

  22. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Yes, you know, because postpartum depression is just SO MUCH FUN. If people just sat back and thought about what they were saying they'd see how silly it is.

  23. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    These are great ones! Thanks for adding them!

  24. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    I hadn't thought of the career argument. That's just lovely.

  25. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Wow. If you could have talked yourself off (if it was that easy), you would have ALREADY DONE IT.

  26. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    #12 is quite common. It's so offensive. Sorry you had to hear that.

  27. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Most people never take a moment to think abt the fact that for some women breastfeeding may not have been an option or was so problematic as to be a poor option even when the woman was DETERMINED to do it.
    Why judge? Why make assumptions? Makes me sad.

  28. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Holy crap. That's hands down the worst comment so far. So sorry Emily.

  29. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Ugh!

  30. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    The selfish argument. I hear that a lot from readers. "You should be thinking about the baby and not yourself."

  31. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    That's EXACTLY what the instructor in my childbirth education class said. Exactly. I wish I could remember who she was so I could hunt her down and tell how much she wasn't helpful in that regard.

  32. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Hi Paula! Thank YOU!

  33. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Two great ones. Thanks Arwyn! Glad you added these!

  34. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Which shows that people don't understand you can have PPD with one, some or all, and with the first, middle or last.

  35. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Exactly. Couldnt' have said it better myself.

  36. Great post. I would add,"I know someone who went through the exact same thing." It's such a dismissive statement and usually implies, "They got over it. Why can't you?"

  37. You're not depressed, you are just questioning your decision to have a baby.

  38. Sad to say, most of those comments are very familiar. It's what I heard – at least 50% of them. There were some very important exceptions which is why I am still here.
    I get a particular chill remembering a pediatrician/friend who advised me "not to tell anyone" which made me feel incredibly ashamed. Thank God I did not take her advice and I reached out…and reached out..and reached out until I FINALLY got better, which I so desperately wanted to do for te sake of my son, my husband, my family and me!

  39. Maybe you just need to get some sleep.
    Look at the bright side, some women would LOVE to be in your shoes, you get to stay at home with your baby.

  40. Great post. I would add, "I know someone who had the exact same thing." It' so dismissive and usually implies, "Get over it. They did."

  41. I would add: "I didn't include you, because of course you wouldn't want to be parted from you baby for even an hour." Nice underlying premise: Having a baby is so completely fulfilling that a new mom couldn't possibly want to see a movie, have dinner out, etc. Unless, of course, she's a shallow, selfish, unfeeling, cold-hearted bitch.

  42. Ten years later, I still quiver with rage over this one!

  43. 1. Why can't you just control yourself and calm down.
    2. You are just tired and need a good sleep.
    3. Don't worry, u will feel better in a couple of weeks.
    I can go on and on and on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  44. Oh yeah, I got the one about taking my kids away too!!
    My brother told my sister should we get a lawyer to get her kids away from her…Meanwhile, he did not even talk to me about it once!!!!

  45. Wow, you don't realize all the negative/uneducated/horrible things people say until they're all written down in one place. I think I heard every single one of those. With my first child, I had a lot of negativity over not being able to breastfeed. I didn't anticipate it would be a problem and was so excited about nursing. I tried everything under the sun for 6 weeks and it fueled my depression even more. I just never produced enough milk. But my lactation consultant and certain family members/friends didn't understand why I couldn't because my mom had nine children and nursed all of us without a problem. When my second child was born I was much better prepared, but it was still tough, to deal with the onslaught of negativity.
    I don't think a lot of people realize how difficult it is for women who want to breastfeed and are unable to do so. It's not just about feeding them. It makes you feel like you can't provide the most basic needs for your child.

  46. I would add "You'll feel better once you lose weight and get back into shape."
    Oh, and they think you should be able to hit the gym and get back into shape the same as they did or the same as their friends did. Every woman is different and depending on complications, difficult pregnancy/labor, it varies on how quickly you lose weight or are able to start working out.

  47. Health Care Professional "reassured" me when I first verbalized the obsessional thoughts I was having towards my baby.
    "I don't think you'll hurt the baby."
    He knew nothing about postpartum disorders. I was so afraid and just needed someone to explain to me more about this illness that I was dealing with. I'm so thankful that I later found a health care team that took excellent care of me and actually understood the illness.

  48. Julie in NC says:

    I had a psychologist, who I was seeing for PPD, tell me that if this continued I'd lose my baby. My thought was, well, she'd (baby) be better off with her dad anyway he's more patient and I'm just causing harm. I didn't want to ruin her (baby) life so I was willing to give her up to someone who could do a better job. I mean, I was suicidal. Can you believe a therapist could be so way off the mark?!

  49. Julie, I got the same line from my former psychiatrist when I told him I was getting overwhelmed by simple tasks. I was in such a terrible place, scared out of my mind, and he told me that if I kept talking like that maybe somebody would take my baby away. I was speechless and just sobbed uncontrollably for the remainder of the ten minute appt. He said I was to blame and that maybe I needed a 12 step program and to make a gratitude list. What the hell????

  50. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    This just goes to show you that there are a lot of healthcare pros out there who have NO IDEA what they are talking about, even in the mental health field. What happened to you was SO WRONG. I'm really sorry.
    - katherine

  51. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    See my comment below to Kristin. Ditto for you.

  52. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    There is such a difference between getting help and getting help from people who know a lot about these illnesses. That's why we need more specialists.

  53. I laughed out loud at the medication one. I have been trying and TRYING and TRYING and TRYING to find the right med and it is so frustrating!! Everyone wants to help and has lots of suggestions, which I appreciate. But this is by far the most common.

  54. This blog is a saving grace, and I love this post! So irritating!
    My worst comment came from my mom when I confided in her that I sometimes regretted getting pregnant in the first place, and she told me that "disappointed her to hear that." No support, just that she was disappointed in me…it hurts so bad especially from your own mother.

    • Kate, I am so sorry your mom reacted that way. That is not right. I, for one, completely understand what you mean and how you feel, because I felt it. My mother would have said, "well I told you not to have another one". Well, she told me that when I was 5 months pregnant.

      Anyway, I'm sending a big ole hug for you!

  55. I am so happy to see your blog. Everyone (including me, thought I was just being weak). Women who have ppd need help (especially to get sleep) and they need to not feel like a loser for not being able to do it all.

    So- to your above great list, I would add:

    “you’re just tired”, everybody feels like this.
    and
    “Just sleep when the baby sleeps” (my child woke 15 times a night till 15 months)
    and
    “I did it all without help- you just have to organize yourself better.”

  56. Jamie Braden says:

    Thank you, thank you thank you for this! Here are some comments from my own family!

    My husband said to me, stop crying in bed and take care of your child. You are just shirking your responsibility as a mother…How could you just give up on breast feeding!

    My mom said to me, will you ever snap out of this…what are we going to do with you…

    • One more, As I was getting better, my so called good friend came to visit and asked me if I am enjoying being a mother more…

  57. You know the funny thing is… I heard most of these from my own husband and I am a labor and delivery nurse.

  58. From my THERAPIST: “Your baby can sense your anxiety” and this one threw me over the edge of insanity “You remind me of my with my first daughter, and we still don’t have as good of a connection as I do with my other kids.” Heartbreaking.

    • Oh. My. GOSH. That is awful. SO AWFUL. I’m so sorry these things were said to you at such a vulnerable time. We’ll keep working to educate people on how their words and stigma affect moms with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Many hugs.
      ~ K

  59. Realise this is from a while ago but just read it and have had a lots if these “helpful” comments from people, my mother in law said “you know that you have a lot to be thankful for” Yes! I know that but it’s not like I chose to feel like this! Also majority of friends, family and my husband were convinced I got it this time round because I was breastfeeding!

  60. My doctor did not want to change my medicine I was taking for PPD. It was not helping and needed something different. The other options were not safe with breast feeding. She gave me a whole lecture how she thought it was best if I continued on the medicine I was on because I only breast fed the baby for four months and it would be best if I did it for a year. At that point I realized she was not inderstanding how bad I was feeling. I said ” if you do not change my meds, there WILL BE NO BREAST MILK coming from this mommy anyway!!! Understand???” I wish I didn’t have to fight to save my life during this difficult time!