There is a stigma attached to any kind of mental illness. Here are some of the most common myths I've found about PPD (some of which I believed prior to struggling myself):
1. Only "weak" people get mental illness.
Obviously not. But the "strong" ones are the ones who aren't to proud to ask for help.
2. PPD only really affects moms who have nothing going for them.
I had a great career, a loving husband, a nice house and healthy kids. So there goes that idea!
3. Since depression is all in a person's head, they can just decide to get over it.
It's really not that easy. And because it is "all in a person's head", there really needs to be an outside source to help them through it.
4. You can tell when someone has PPD
The only way you can know for sure that someone has PPD is if they tell you. Some people are very good at hiding their feelings.
5. PPD only affects the occasional mom
Approximately one in four moms are thought to suffer from PPD at some point. And many moms (myself included) never report it or seek professional help. That's hardly occasional.
So what can we do about it?
If you are struggling with any kind of mental illness, talk to someone you trust about it at the very least. You are a stronger person than I am if you have the guts to seek professional help, and I applaud you.
If you know a new mom well, come over to visit, hold the baby, and just be there for her. Ask her how things are going (not with the baby, with HER) and really care about her answer. I always craved someone to spill my guts to, but my pride always got in the way.