I remember the first time I learned about postpartum depression. It was in 2005, after Tom Cruise chided Brooke Shields for treating her PPD with medication. At the time, Cruise's unwarranted criticism exposed the extent to which the condition had been stigmatized, setting off a national conversation that continues today. Since then, more celebrities have opened up about living with PPD. Most recently, Lena Headey revealed she was struggling with postpartum depression while filming Game of Thrones in an intimate conversation with co-star Maisie Williams.
Headey, who plays Cersei Lannister on the hit HBO series, spoke candidly in this month's cover story for The EDIT about living with PPD after the birth of her first child, Wylie Elliot Loughran, in March 2010, according to Refinery29. She delivered her not long before shooting began for season 1 of Game of Thrones. Headey told Williams of that time,
I was postnatally depressed but I didn’t know it. I saw a doctor for the medical check, and I just burst into tears. She said I was postnatally depressed and I went, 'Am I? Why is that?' I saw a great guy and he sorted me out, but I did the first year [on Game of Thrones] in that space, figuring out motherhood and going through a weird time personally. It was tricky.
Refinery29 reported that this is not the first time Headey has talked publicly about living with postpartum depression, which, according to recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, affects one in nine women in the United States. The Games of Thrones actor also spoke about her experienced with PPD in a 2014 interview with The Telegraph. According to The Telegraph, Headey dealt with clinical depression as a teenager, but didn't treat the condition with medication until she was diagnosed with PPD after having Wylie with ex-husband Peter Loughran. Headey also has a 2-year-old daughter, Teddy, with director Dan Cadan, her current partner.
Shields and Headey aren't the only celebrities to speak candidly about their experiences with postpartum depression. Nashville star Hayden Panettiere, Lip Sync Battle co-host Chrissy Teigen, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Bell, Vanessa Lachey and several other celebrity parents have come forward with their own stories.
Postpartum depression can happen to anyone. Current research shows that symptoms can start anywhere from a few days to a year after childbirth. Even though some risk factors have been identified, scientists still do not know what causes postpartum depression. Nor does the CDC have a full grasp of the number of parents it affects.
Postpartum depression (and mental health in general) is highly stigmatized in the United States and around the globe. Government funding for mental health services continues to dwindle, and advocates fear it will only get worse. That is why it is so important that public figures like Headey speak out about their experiences, in order to raise awareness and eliminate shame.
If you're struggling with postpartum depression, you don't have to go through the journey alone. Reach out to your doctor about treatment options or, if safer, visit Postpartum Support International's website for resources and support. If you are in crisis and need to talk to someone, whether or not you feel suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you believe you or someone you know are in immediate danger, call 911.