Not Alone: A Celebrity Mom Opens up About Her Struggles With Life After Pregnancy.

March 6th 2017

Mike Rothschild

Writing for Glamour, model and TV host Chrissy Teigen opened up about her struggle with postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter in December 2015. 

Detailing the mental and physical toll the condition took on her, Tiegen discusses how she initially dismissed "whatever stress or detachment or sadness I was feeling at that time" as the predictable consequence of having a baby in the middle of a home renovation. 

But her symptoms only got worse when she went back to work hosting the TV series "Lip Sync Battle."

"I was different than before. Getting out of bed to get to set on time was painful," she wrote. "My lower back throbbed; my ­shoulders — even my wrists — hurt. I didn’t have an appetite. I would go two days without a bite of food [...] One thing that really got me was just how short I was with people."

Her condition worsened to the point she slept alone, had ever worse physical pain, and didn't leave the house except for work.

After months of struggling, she was finally diagnosed with postpartum depression, and went on a regimen of medication and therapy. However, she was left puzzling over an illness that virtually nobody talks about, is popularly associated with women who harm their children (Tiegen cites the case of Susan Smith, who drowned her two kids), and which — she believed — couldn't happen to her because she was happy, successful, and enjoyed tremendous support. 

Seeking to explain why she had acted the way she had over the past year, Tiegen decided to write a letter shining light on a condition that, in a myriad of different wants, as many as one in nine women will struggle with.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevetion states that while "baby blues" are a natural feeling lasting a few days, postpartum depression is more severe and lasts much longer. It manifests as everything from anger to withdrawal to feelings of disconnection from the new baby. While it has a number of risk factors, including stress and a difficult pregnancy, it can strike any new mother of any socioeconomic status for any reason. 

As Tiegen writes in her letter, "postpartum does not discriminate. I couldn’t control it. And that’s part of the reason it took me so long to speak up: I felt selfish, icky, and weird saying aloud that I’m struggling."

While the symptoms can be serious and long-lasting, even severe postpartum depression like Tiegen's can be treated. When Tiegen remembered cases of child-harming mothers like Susan Smith, what she was thinking of was postpartum psychosis. This is a much rarer and more severe emergency condition with intense mood swings, hallucinations, and paranoia toward the baby. Postpartum psychosis afflicts about 1 in 1,000 births, and even then, only about 4 percent of cases end with infanticide. 

Postpartum depression is much more common — and makes for far fewer salacious headlines. It can also affect men, with what's known as paternal postpartum depression found to affect one in 10 fathers; as many as one in four experience depression in the three-to-six month period after a birth. 

Tiegen is continuing to recover from her depression, but still has extreme bouts of sadness, exhaustion and physical pain. 

"Like anyone, with PPD or without, I have really good days and bad days, " she wrote. "I will say, though, right now, all of the really bad days — the days that used to be all my days — are gone."