TORONTO ON - 02/11/2019 — Postpartum depression affects 15% of women in Canada, and while we’re seeing a shift towards greater education and understanding of mental illness and mental health, there is still a stigma that prevents diagnosis. The signs and symptoms of postpartum can go undiagnosed and as such untreated well beyond the postpartum period, leading to long-term, potentially dangerous mental illnesses such as depression.
A recent client of ours, Lorraine, was one such example of this. She started working as a postal worker when she was in her early 20s, and loved the job. Lorraine had lived with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for most of her life, and so she appreciated that her job helped her spend more time outside, active, and on her feet. The increase in physical activity was invaluable and helped with many of her symptoms, though the condition still persisted.
When she had her daughter, things became more difficult. She felt lethargic, constantly sleep deprived, irritable, and unsure of how to manage it. Lorraine and her partner at the time wrote it off as mild postpartum depression and assumed she would be able to handle it the way she had taken care of her SAD all these years.
“There’s an enormous stigma around postpartum depression,” said Wendy Share, Executive Director at Share Lawyers. “Women often feel great shame about such a diagnosis, so they suffer in silence. You don’t often hear about postpartum depression unless something horrific happens. So, as a result, we frequently have women who say nothing, and try to work through things on their own, without any medical assistance.”
Eventually, Lorraine found herself a single mother of a five-year-old working a full-time job. She started suffering from panic attacks that would strike in the middle of the day and leave her feeling nauseated or even vomiting while on her route. Lorraine consulted her family physician who suggested that she had been suffering from postpartum depression (PPD) all these years without adequate treatment, leading to severe, prolonged depressive episodes. The medication she was prescribed made matters more complicated, and she had difficulty functioning even menial tasks at work.
Eventually, it became clear that Lorraine could not keep working full time. She needed to cope with her PPD and recover fully so that she could lead a normal, happy life with her daughter. She applied for long-term disability and had her claim accepted. After a month and a half, however, that decision was overturned. Through surveillance, the insurance company noted that she should still be able to continue working as her mother was helping out at home. What this failed to take into account was that she was struggling on a daily basis just to get out of bed. The help at home would make no difference if she couldn’t take the time off the job to recover fully.
Eventually, Lorraine found Share Lawyers, and we were able to help her get the benefits that she was entitled to receive. She is continuing her counseling sessions but is struggling to find the right combination of medications to help her get through her PPD and anxiety disorders.
This is a reality that many women face. The stigma of PPD persists, making women from all walks of life feel somehow inferior and incapable of fulfilling their motherly duties. With such stigma comes denial of one's own well-being, sometimes with dire consequences. With the right help, however, PPD can be very manageable. Women don’t need to suffer in silence. There is help.
*All client names and identifying details have been changed to protect the confidentiality of all involved.
Media Contacts:Company Name: Share Lawyers