When you put new mom Shay Mitchell on a podcast with mom-to-be Ashley Graham, it’s not surprising that the conversation goes right to all topics baby. The actress was a guest on Graham’s podcast Pretty Big Deal last week, and the two talked about everything from birth plans to putting baby in a car seat for the first time to breastfeeding to mommy shaming. While the episode was very wholesome in a lot of ways, it wasn’t all lighthearted, as Mitchell opened up to Graham about her experiences with prenatal depression.
Mitchell, who gave birth to daughter Atlas Noa on October 8th, has discussed prenatal depression before. In an interview back in October, she told lifestyle blog Hatch that she experienced a lot of “crippling anxiety” and was “extremely lonely” during her pregnancy.
She discussed the topic further on the podcast with Graham, stating, “I’d be crying to [my mom] and she’d be like, ‘You’re just emotional, it’s just the hormones.’ And okay cool it might be, but you don’t want to hear that. Like, yes it is, if it is the hormones I’m still feeling that way. It doesn’t take away from this feeling, and it’s completely isolating.”
Her prior miscarriage also played a role in her isolation, as she hid her pregnancy for six months. “Because of the experience I’d gone through before with the miscarriage, I didn’t want to tell my closest friends that I was pregnant this time because the thought of having to go back to them after and being like, ‘It didn’t happen this time again,’ was really a painful thought for me,” she shared. “So I just thought I’ll keep it to myself for as long as possible…It was just really lonely.”
Depression during pregnancy (also called prenatal or prepartum depression) is a mood disorder that affects 10 to 25 percent of expectant women. While hormone fluctuations during pregnancies can lead to mood swings, in prenatal depression, the emotions are often persistent, intense and sometimes even debilitating.
Though the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends expectant women get screened for depression and anxiety at least once, it can be difficult to identify and separate from usual pregnancy symptoms. To make matters worse, it’s a topic that’s not widely discussed.
“It’s a really crazy period that I don’t think people talk about enough,” Mitchel stated on the podcast. “I heard so much about postpartum which is also a real thing, but I’d never heard about prepartum depression.”
While there is still work to do, hopefully, as more women speak out about their experiences with prenatal depression, it will serve as a reminder to anyone who may be struggling that they are not alone.