Parents

If you saw 'Tully' and you're looking for help, here are mental health resources

If you’ve seen the movie “Tully,” you know that the movie starring Charlize Theron tackles the unvarnished life of new moms with honesty and hilarity, before taking a turn into much darker territory with a twist involving postpartum mental illness.

If you haven’t seen the movie, beware of possible spoilers ahead. But if you’re looking for resources and help for yourself or someone else struggling with postpartum mental health — read on.

Love or hate it, “Tully” is certainly sparking conversations about mental health for new mothers. Screenwriter Diablo Cody said she suffered from postpartum mental health issues and felt it was important to represent the experience onscreen. The revelation at the end of the movie that Theron’s character has been suffering from what seems to be postpartum psychosis landed like a ton of bricks on many moms who struggled with their own postpartum mental health.

'You can get better'

Postpartum mental health issues are totally treatable: According to Ann Smith, the president of Postpartum Support International, 99 percent of women with postpartum mood disorders get better with treatment. But, she said, only 30 percent seek help.

Her message to everyone who sees “Tully”? “This is a condition that has really good treatment. You can get well. You WILL get well.”

What’s blocking the way, Smith said, is the stigma around mental illness and what she calls the “myth of motherhood.”

“It’s supposed to be this Hallmark greeting card with a beautiful baby,” Smith said. Whether “Tully” ultimately helps the conversation or hurts it, she said, remains to be seen.

Postpartum mental health: Moms who have BTDT

The TODAY Parenting Team asked our contributors to share their own experiences with postpartum mental health on our Parenting Team. You can read their responses and share your own here. (Everyone is welcome to join the TODAY Parenting Team and contribute.)

The day my postpartum depression almost got the best of me, by Christine Burke

"As I stood there, bottle in hand, mirror in front of me reflecting anguish, I made a choice. I chose me. All of me, every last messy, loving, crazy, funny, depressed part of me. I chose to walk downstairs and hand that bottle to my husband and tell him I was falling apart."

Why every mom needs a postpartum mental health plan, by Jill Krause

"I didn't realize that I was full of rage because I was sick. I just thought I was a horrible mother."

'Tully' and how to help, really help, a new mom, by Catherine Pearlman

"Early motherhood doesn’t remotely resemble the blissful existence typically seen in movies. And it’s almost never the breathtakingly beautiful pictures presented on social media. Nope, it’s really none of that."

What is postpartum depression?

One in 7 women experience depression after pregnancy, and one in 10 have depression during pregnancy. Symptoms include:

  • Anger or irritability
  • Lack of interest in the baby
  • Disturbances in appetite and sleep
  • Crying or sadness
  • Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
  • Possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself

"All moms go through stress. Regular motherhood is difficult, but it's not this," Smith said.

Source: Postpartum Support International.

What is postpartum psychosis?

Postpartum psychosis is a much more rare illness that affects one to two out of every 1,000 new mothers. Onset is often within the first two weeks after having a baby. Symptoms include:

  • Delusions or strange beliefs
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't there)
  • Feeling very irritated
  • Hyperactivity
  • Decreased need for or inability to sleep
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Difficulty communicating at times

People experiencing psychosis experience a break from reality. Postpartum psychosis is temporary and treatable with professional help, but it can be dangerous. Call 911 or an emergency crisis hotline right away to get help. Postpartum Support International also has a postpartum psychosis coordinator to help women and families who aren't in an immediate emergency situation. Find out more on their website, here.

Source: Postpartum Support International.

What is postpartum anxiety?

Postpartum anxiety is very common, affecting about one in 10 new moms, and not very well understood. Often, people don't seek help because their symptoms don't match up with classic postpartum depression — but postpartum anxiety is very treatable. Symptoms include:

  • Constant worry
  • Feeling that something bad will happen
  • Racing thoughts
  • Sleep and appetite disturbances
  • Inability to sit still
  • Dizziness, hot flashes, nausea

Source: Postpartum Support International.

Where to find help

Find more information and resources on the Postpartum Support International website, www.postpartum.net. They have a 24-hour, national hotline: 1-800-944-4773. Call it and within two hours you can get a call or text back from a trained volunteer who can help.

If you're having thoughts about suicide or feel like you might harm yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Help is out there, and you can get better.

Disclosure: The film "Tully" is being released by Focus Features, owned by Comcast through Universal Pictures, a division of its wholly owned subsidiary. Comcast also owns NBC Universal and TODAY.

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