Celebrity Mental Health: Brooke Shields

Dec 16, 2015 | News

Health promotion encompasses healthy living, physical and mental wellbeing and is a key priority under the People strategy. Healthy staff result in better quality patient and resident experience.

Brooke Shields is perhaps best known for her role in the TV comedy, “Suddenly Susan.” Her work in the series earned her a Golden Globe nomination in both 1997 and ’98.

More recently, she has spoken out about her bout with postpartum depression following the birth of her daughter in 2003.

“I couldn’t hold the baby, I couldn’t do anything for the baby, I couldn’t look at the baby. Every time I got near her, even the smell of the diapers of the baby. My knees would get weak. I just cried all day long and I thought I’d made the worst mistake of my life”

It is estimated that up to 10% of mothers may suffer from postpartum depression. Several factors can contribute to the likelihood of developing symptoms including a complicated delivery, the stress of invitro fertilization and the stress of a significant loss.

Shields conceived successfully only after several failed invitro fertilization attempts, her father passed away weeks before she gave birth and she delivered her daughter via emergency C section.

“I think of myself as aware, and all of these things were staring me in the face, [but] for each individual thing, I had a justification for how I was going to get through it to make sure it didn’t bring me to my knees. I just didn’t assume I would be weakened to the point of being affected, and therein lies the stigma.”

Similar to other types of depression, postpartum is characterized by severe sadness, a withdrawing into oneself, a sense of inadequacy and suicidal thoughts.
Symptoms can develop 2-3 weeks after birth and, if not addressed properly, can linger for a year or more.

Treatment often includes counseling and antidepressants. Some antidepressants can be taken with small chance of side effects to babies who are breast feeding.
“Without therapy, I wouldn’t have understood as much, and I think that without medicine, I would not have been clear enough [to pull out of it]”

“I have come so far in my love for and appreciation of my unique, incredible child […]. I now crave her and want to protect her with my life. Whether she is giving flyaway kisses, or hailing a taxi with her chubby little arm in the air, I am filled with happiness.”

She has gone on to give birth to her second daughter in 2006 and to write a book about her experience titled, “Down Comes the Rain.”

For more about Mental Health and Wellness, please visit the Staff Mental Health & Mental Wellness Toolkit.

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