This Nova Scotia mom is sharing her story of postpartum depression to help others

Up to one in five new mothers experience some type of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder -- conditions that impact both mom and baby.

Women in every culture, age group and income level face these struggles, and many suffer in silence.

But one Nova Scotia mother is sharing her own story in the hopes of changing that.

“I had these really intense thoughts of, you know, I hate this. I’m not good at this, I’m not cut out for this,” says Andrea Jerrett, who gave birth to her daughter, Amelia, in January 2021.

She initially played the thoughts off as exhaustion. But a month after Amelia's birth, Jerrett was still crying every day. She felt sad and anxious and couldn’t sleep. Her husband noticed she wasn’t OK.

“I don’t think I wanted to admit that to myself until that moment, but having someone say that to me out loud, I think that caused me to reflect and go no, I’m actually not OK,” she says.

Jerrett is the senior digital producer for CTV Atlantic’s web team. She works behind the camera, but on World Maternal Mental Health Day, she was compelled to go in front of it.

“I feel like I was hit by a train that I never saw coming and no one warned me about," she says of her postpartum journey.

“I feel if more women talked about these experiences that they have, it would help other people."

Jerrett sought help from her nurse practitioner and the IWK Health Centre's reproductive mental health team.

She was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.

“Half of cases of all cases of so-called post-partum depression actually start in pregnancy. So we call it peripartum depression. And so that happens in about 10 to 15 per cent of people who are pregnant or postpartum,” explains Dr. Tanya Tulipan, a perinatal psychiatrist with the Reproductive Mental Health Services team at the IWK.

Dr. Tulipan says about 20 per cent of patients experience perinatal anxiety and 1 in 1,000 mothers experience postpartum psychosis, which is sometimes preventable and can be treated.

Flora Babakhani died by suicide earlier this year after she experienced postpartum psychosis. Her story encouraged women to start Flora’s Walk to raise awareness and money. A group walked through Point Pleasant Park Wednesday to mark World Maternal Mental Health Day and raise more than $2,600.

“You’re not alone if this is something that’s happening to you and what you’re experiencing is treatable,” says Katie Van Patter, who organized the walk.

Jerrett’s treatment involves therapy and medication. She says it took eight months to find a medication that worked for her and nine months to feel like herself again.

She hopes sharing her story will help other parents who are facing similar struggles.

“I hope that's what I can do. I hope by sharing my story I can help another mom who is going through it right now and maybe feels alone and doesn't know what to do.”

Jerrett also hopes that opening up about her postpartum experience will encourage others to do the same.