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Stigma Behind Postpartum Depression

According to Erving Goffman, stigma is “used to refer to an attribute that is deeply discrediting…”(3). Stigmas created about mental illnesses within a culture or society are often rooted with the idea that a person is capable of controlling their behavior and are an exemplar of unacceptable social behavior. If these stigmas are not dismantled, much damage can be done. Postpartum depression comes with negative stigmas that are detrimental to those affected.

The discussion around postpartum depression can often be looked down upon. Those who are brave enough to speak up on their struggles are often shut down by those with stigmas. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “Postpartum depression is often left untreated as women frequently report feeling ashamed about seeking help….” As a result of these stigmas, those suffering from the illness are left to deal with the battle alone. The fear of being denoted as a “bad mother” keeps them from seeking out the help they need. According to the NCBI, stigmas have three elements: misinformation, emotional reactions, and discrimination. All of these elements contribute towards the stigmas prevalent in our society. These are the elements that create the negative narrative against postpartum depression, and are the push factors against those who advocate for help.

The stigmas that come with postpartum depression can leave a negative impact on those suffering from the illness. The three elements of stigma result in the conversation of postpartum depression to be overlooked. According to Peter Brynes, studies have shown that the consequences of stigma in patience included feelings of embarrassment and shame. Due to these labels being tied with postpartum depression, patience actively avoids telling others that they need help. Postpartum depression is inaccurately tied with being weak. This narrative is very harmful because of its impact on a mother’s self esteem. According to Corrigan, having a mental illness in this society full of stigmas means you will be labelled solely by this illness and the stigmas that come with it. This can be harmful to those suffering from the illness, for these stigmas are an inaccurate portrayal of one’s character.

Dismantling these stigmas in our culture and society is important so we can allow those seeking help get the help they need. Allowing the conversation of postpartum depression to occur without any stigmas will allow for a safe space that will encourage others to seek help. According to the NCBI, an effective method of dismantling these stigmas includes education. Challenging these myths created about postpartum depression with factual information will dismantle some of the stigmas against this illness. Allowing those stigmas to be challenged will allow a less negative space for those seeking help. According to the same article, protests are another effective anti-stigma strategy. Making an effort to stop stigmatization will slow the spread of this misinformation. It is important to actively stop this spread of misinformation to approach the root of the problem. The final anti-stigma method this article gave was contact. The creation of equal and fair interactions between the public and individuals with a mental illness will balance the playing field for all; discrimination can then be dealt with.

It is important to explore and understand the stigmas behind postpartum depression.

Having a full understanding of the subject will inform you of the dangers that stigmas create. Stigmas carry the danger of pushing others away from help and can leave them feeling hopeless. Dismantling these stigmas will allow for a safer space and environment.

Works Cited

Byrne, Peter. “Stigma of Mental Illness and Ways of Diminishing It.” Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, vol. 6, no. 1, 2000, pp. 65–72. Crossref, doi:10.1192/apt.6.1.65.

---. “Stigma Towards Mental Illness: A Concept Analysis Using Postpartum Depression as an Exemplar.” Issues in Mental Health Nursing, vol. 29, no. 1, 2008, pp. 21–36. Crossref, doi:10.1080/01612840701748698.

Thorsteinsson, Einar B., et al. “Changes in Stigma and Help-Seeking in Relation to Postpartum Depression: Non-Clinical Parenting Intervention Sample.” PeerJ, vol. 6, 2018, p. e5893. Crossref, doi:10.7717/peerj.5893.

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