How model Tess Holliday has postpartum depression despite her 'baby' being a toddler

Plus-size model Tess Holliday is opening up about postpartum depression. (Photo: Getty Images)
Plus-size model Tess Holliday is opening up about postpartum depression. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tess Holliday is speaking out about an “extreme” medical condition that makes her feel “like you’re losing your mind”: postpartum depression.

The model wrote a revealing post on Tuesday about suffering from postpartum depression (PPD), a condition that affects up to one in seven women, producing mood swings, sadness, anxiety, and, in some cases, thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Posting a smiling shot, Holliday wrote: “Does this look like someone who is suffering? This was taken a year ago today and up until about a month ago, every day since this photo was taken I thought in my head: I wish I could just vanish. I’ve never had suicidal thoughts or self-harm, but the thoughts of just wanting to stop hurting and feeling helpless were new & frankly overwhelming. I’ve been open about my struggles with Postpartum Depression, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized I had extreme PPD. I stopped talking about it as much because a few people told me I was coming across ‘too negative on social media.’ My ‘baby’ is almost two, & some days are still filled with sadness, anxiety & helplessness … like today.”

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The mother of sons Rylee, 11, and Bowie, 2, continued: “Moms are expected to ‘bounce back’ physically & emotionally. We are expected to ‘stay strong’ for the family. Yet most of us (myself included) still have days where we feel like a stranger in our bodies, unattractive to ourselves (& partners), lonely because friends stop inviting you to stuff, etc. I’m grateful to have support in my life, friends to talk to, but it got so bad that I had to take action & by doing so it potentially saved my life.”

The 32-year-old gave her best advice: “You have to take time to care for YOU. Don’t let it get to the point mine did where you feel like you’re losing your mind. Don’t think because your child isn’t a ‘baby’ that you couldn’t still be suffering from PPD, because I’m here to tell you, you most definitely can.”

In March, Holliday Instagrammed, “From dealing with extreme PPD, to at times feeling really isolated and overwhelmed. My boys are 10 years apart and that comes with its own set of problems, but I’ve found support through other women.” And in February, she emphasized the role of self-care as it pertains to postpartum depression.

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“Postpartum depression is not the ‘baby blues,’ which is experienced by 80 percent of new moms and causes emotional highs and lows and sadness, among other symptoms,” Julie Lamppa, an advanced-practice registered nurse and certified nurse midwife, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Approximately 15 percent of those women advance to postpartum depression, of which symptoms are more severe — an inability to function in their daily lives — and last longer than two weeks.”

Holliday calls her postpartum depression “extreme,” but according to Carly Snyder, MD, a perinatal and reproductive psychiatrist in New York City, in clinical terms, PPD is classified as mild, moderate, and severe.

“A woman with mild symptoms may benefit from psychotherapy and social support, moderate symptoms may call for therapy and medication, and severe cases can involve a woman having thoughts of harm toward herself or others or suicide and requires medical treatment,” Snyder tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

While postpartum depression is defined as occurring within the first month of birth, “In the field, we know that women can be diagnosed any time within the first year of birth, which can be due to delayed treatment or missed signs,” says Snyder.

After one year of symptoms, doctors may not specifically use the term postpartum depression, but treatment would be consistent with PPD. “However, each experience differs, and moms should contextualize it as they see fit,” says Snyder. “Every woman deserves treatment and the right to enjoy motherhood.”

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