In a candid and refreshingly honest conversation with Ashley Graham, actress Shay Mitchell opened up about experiencing "prepartum depression" during her pregnancy and described it as a "completely isolating" experience. Like Mitchell, Graham, who is currently pregnant with her first child, also shared that she could relate to her emotions and feeling "totally out of whack."
The Pretty Little Liars star — who welcomed her first child, a daughter named Atlas, with partner Matte Babel back in October — was recently interviewed by Graham, who is due this month, on her podcast, Pretty Big Deal. During their chat, Graham and Mitchell both opened up about feeling out of sorts during their pregnancies, using the term "prepartum depression."
"I want to talk about something that you had said and I think you said the term prepartum depression. I want to talk about this because I can’t say definitively that I went through it, but I can say that I feel like I might have gone through something like it,” Graham said to Mitchell. “Because here I am, I'm pregnant ... But then all of a sudden… my emotions, my mind, my body, things that I always had control over, are now totally out of whack. I can’t talk to anybody about it. My husband doesn’t understand … my mom is like, ‘Oh, you’ll be fine.'” antenatal
Although "prepartum depression" isn't the technical term, "antenatal or prenatal depression" and "perinatal depression" are both conditions defined by medical professionals. The American Academy of Pediatrics defines the former as depression during pregnancy and the latter is a term for depression during or after pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Technicalities aside, Mitchell could relate to it all.
“Every single thing that you just said is exactly what I went through,” Mitchell told Graham. “My mom said the same thing, and I’d be crying to her and she’s like, ‘You’re just emotional, it’s just the hormones.’ And OK, cool, it might be, but you don’t want to hear that. Like, yes, OK, if it is the hormones, I’m still feeling that way, it doesn’t take away from this feeling. And it’s completely isolating.”
Mitchell went on to explain that what she went through during her pregnancy, mental health-wise, was unlike anything she had experienced before. Some days, she said she had a difficult time even getting out of bed. “I was also having a lot of guilt because I felt so fortunate to be able to be pregnant. I was like, ‘OK, I shouldn’t be feeling like this, there’s so many people that would love to be in this position,'" she told Graham. "And then, ‘How can I not want this right now?… Is this what I want? Oh my god, is my whole life gonna change? It’s never going to go back, now I’m gonna be a mom, is this going to impact my career?'”
Mitchell first opened up about experiencing depression while she was pregnant back in October with the maternity lifestyle brand, Hatch. The fact that she kept her pregnancy a secret for six months — in light of suffering a previous miscarriage — played into her feelings of isolation, Mitchell explained.
"I think it's really interesting that prepartum depression or feelings of isolation in pregnancy are not more vastly discussed," she told Hatch at the time. "Feeling that I was alone in my depression compounded my state of mind, but [I] have found since sharing the news publicly that many women feel as I did."
Shedding light on the prevalence of prenatal and perinatal depression will undoubtedly help others experiencing these same symptoms feel not only less alone, but heard and understood. Because like postpartum depression, it's something that deserves awareness.
If you or someone you know is experiencing depression or anxiety during pregnancy, or in the postpartum period, contact the Postpartum Health Alliance warmline at (888) 724-7240, or Postpartum Support International at (800) 944-4773. If you are thinking of harming yourself or your baby, get help right away by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or dialing 911. For more resources, you can visit Postpartum Support International.