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Postpartum Depression Health Center

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Out of the Blue

Brooke Shields discusses her painful struggle with postpartum depression.
WebMD Magazine - Feature

Brooke Shields seemingly has it all -- happy marriage, celebrated beauty, critical applause, world fame. Yet, after her child was born, she fought the "mother lode" of emotional battles: a crippling bout with postpartum depression.

After giving birth two years ago, actress/model/icon Brooke Shields was not singing lullabies in the pleasing voice that has earned her rave reviews on Broadway. Nor was she learning how to swaddle her newborn girl, Rowan Francis, named for her late father, Francis Shields. Instead, suffering from postpartum depression, she found herself staring out of the window of her fourth floor Manhattan apartment, contemplating putting an end to it all.

"I really didn't want to live anymore," she admits frankly. She says that, during this time, simply seeing a window was enough to prompt her to think, "'I just want to leap out of my life,' but then the rational side of me [would say], 'You're only on the fourth floor. You'll get broken to bits and then you will be even worse.'"

From the outside looking in, the 38-year-old former Calvin Klein model has everything -- happy family, career spanning decades -- but for Shields, the painful struggle to get pregnant and the ensuing slide into postpartum depression after her labor and delivery marks the most tumultuous time in her life.

Princeton-educated and seemingly savvy about all sorts of things, she still never knew that feelings of shame, secrecy, helplessness, and despair -- the classic signs of postpartum depression -- may affect as many as one in 10 new mothers within six months of delivery, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. More incapacitating than the "baby blues," postpartum depression is marked by severe sadness or emptiness, withdrawal from family and friends, a strong sense of failure, and even thoughts of suicide. These emotions can begin two or three weeks after birth and can last up to a year or longer if untreated.

Blue Lagoon

For the 6-foot natural beauty, the troubling signs of postpartum depression began almost immediately after she gave birth to her now almost 2-year-old daughter on May 15, 2003. Her husband, television writer-producer Chris Henchy, whom she married in 2001 after her tabloid-fodder split from tennis star Andre Agassi, was supportive if also terribly concerned for his wife and his baby.

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