Writing on Women Writers

A site for college students to write about women writers.

Postpartum Depression in The Yellow Wallpaper

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Postpartum Depression


In Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper the woman had an unknown illness. In today’s world readers could assume her illness to be Postpartum Depression. Although, it is unknown how she got this depression I myself personally believe it is due to the birth of her child which is very common in today’s world. Back then with no women doctors this condition was falsely diagnosed so women did not get the treatment that they needed. Today luckily for women there is treatment. Some celebrity mothers have even gotten Postpartum Depression after their children were born and have fought it. With the woman in the yellow wallpaper she did not get the right help so she lost her mind. Her illness grew worse and made her crazy.


Charlotte Perkins Gilman herself was treated for Post Partum Depression after the birth of her daughter. So that could of helped her write this story from actually being in the same situation.

Some symptoms of Post Partum Depression include:

Hallucinations                                                                        Suicidal thoughts or actions
Delusions                                                                                  Confusion and Disorientation
Extreme agitation or anxiety                                           Rapid mood swings
Bizarre behavior                                                                   Inability or refusal to eat or sleep
Thoughts of harming or killing your baby                 Over worrying about the baby or not at all

in The Yellow Wallpaper the main woman has hallucinations of the woman from the wallpaper.

“I see her on the long road under the trees, creeping along, and when a carriage comes she hides under the blackberry vines.” (272).

She worries about the baby, but she cannot be with him.

“It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. Such a dear baby! And yet I can not be with him, it makes me so nervous.” (266).

As well as rapid mood swings.
 “I cry at nothing and cry most of the time.” (268).

Back then the only cure seemed to be the rest cure. The rest cure was basically that women were delicate and needed rest. “The rest cure usually lasted six to eight weeks. It involved isolation from friends and family. It also enforced bed rest, and nearly constant feeding on a fatty, milk-based diet. Patients were force-fed if necessary – effectively reduced to the dependency of an infant. Nurses cleaned and fed them, and turned them over in bed. Doctors used massage and electrotherapy to maintain muscle tone. Patients were sometimes prohibited from talking, reading, writing and even sewing”

In today’s world treatment for Post Partum Depression is:
Individual or Marriage counseling
Hormone Therapy
Support from others
Trying to sleep, eat ,exercise
Express feelings

In 2003 Brooke Shields went through Postpartum Depression after the birth of her daughter.

She wrote a book on her battle with the disease.



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