Postnatal Depression And Its Effects On Royals. Queen Victoria's Story

Date February 6, 2018

In an amazing reveal, the new season of ITV series Victoria shows that the Queen suffered from postnatal depression during her life.

Many have praised the portrayal of the monarch by Doctor Who's Jenna Coleman, and in particular, her portrayal of postnatal depression. One viewer called it “a subtle but clear portrayal of postnatal depression.

© Victoria (2016) / Mammoth Screen

The idea that even the Queen suffered from postnatal depression seems to be comforting to many women who have experienced the condition.

What is postnatal depression?

Postnatal depression, simply put, is a psychological disorder said to occur from anytime during pregnancy to a month after delivery. It is characterized by periods of persistent and extreme sadness, anger, irritability, low energy, crying, thoughts of suicide, and changes in sleeping or eating habits.

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While it mainly affects women, postnatal depression may affect men as well. However, the incidence is higher in women, and like we see on ITV’s drama series Victoria, not even queens are safe from its effects.

Queen Victoria's postnatal depression

In the fourth episode of the second season of ITV's Victoria drama series, Jenna Coleman portrays the Queen, stricken with postnatal depression, after the birth of her second child.

This was corroborated by historians who believed that Queen Victoria “hated her children” and utterly disliked breastfeeding.

Postnatal depression was little understood in the 19th century, and as a result, in the TV series, Queen Victoria is seen suffering the effects of the disorder but having no one to talk to about it.

After the episode aired, there was a flurry of tweets from women expressing support for the actress (and her character), with one woman tweeting:

It's almost reassuring that #Victoria also had "imposter syndrome" & suffered from depression - everyone gets it and it's totally real.

Queen Victoria is also not the only royal to have crossed paths with postnatal depression.

Royals and postnatal depression

While most of the royal family are extremely private about their struggles, there was one royal who wasn't - Princess Diana.

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In a 1995 interview with BBC1 Panorama, Princess Diana openly talked about how she struggled with postnatal depression after the birth of her first son, Prince William. In her words:

I was unwell with postnatal depression, which no one ever discusses, postnatal depression, you have to read about it afterward, and that in itself was a bit of a difficult time. You’d wake up in the morning feeling you didn’t want to get out of bed, you felt misunderstood, and just very, very low in yourself.

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Clearly, postnatal depression is a disorder more people need to be aware of, which is why it's great to see the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton making an effort to draw attention to maternal health.

A week ago, she visited King’s College, London, and the Mother and Baby Unit at Bethlem Royal Hospital where she received a briefing from experts on perinatal care, and also spent time talking to mothers receiving care.

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In Victorian times, postnatal depression might have been regarded as insane; today, however, it has been recognized as a psychological disorder and one that needs not be taken lightly.

© Victoria (2016) / Mammoth Screen

We owe it to ourselves, our friends, and families to increase awareness of this disorder. If you have suffered from PD before or know someone who has, what was the experience like for you? How did you overcome it?

READ ALSO: Depression During A Pregnancy Is A Pretty Common Thing