Acknowledging Postpartum Depression. Years Ago, There Was

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Acknowledging Postpartum Depression
Years ago, there was a limited understanding about postpartum depression and efficient treatments. Today, postpartum depression is better understood because of the willingness of others to recognize it as a legitimate condition. Based on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the treatments of her day were not adequate to improve the mental health of someone dealing with this diagnosis.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper” the main character is given phosphates, tonics, and told to get air and exercise and journeys, and is absolutely forbidden to “work” until she is well again. (Kennedy, Gioia, and Revoyr 1035). Physicians recommended this method of treatment at the time. While these
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(Beck and Driscoll 61). These factors give physicians the ability to diagnose the potential difficulties patients may have in the postpartum state.
Equally significant, in the short story, is how the main character is treated by her husband, John, and her brother, who are both physicians. Due to the rudimentary understanding of the condition in her time, she is told that they concur with Mitchell and that the “rest cure” is what is best for her. The united front presented by the people she is close to leaves her feeling that no one close to her understands her condition which enhances the paranoia, loneliness, by increasing the sense that she must “escape.” Although women today still struggle with the symptoms of postpartum depression, they are not alone and condemned to feel there is no hope. “According to the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center on Women’s Mental Health, during the postpartum period, about 85 percent of women experience some type of “mood disturbance” or Postpartum Depression (PPD).” (Chesler 104). It is stated that “One out of ten female brains will become depressed within the first year after giving birth.” (Brizendine 181).
In this short story by Gilman, she draws from her personal experience and the frustration of feeling “stifled by marriage and motherhood” (Golden and Zangrando 185). Gilman’s experience with S. Weir Mitchell, a well-known neurologist of

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