Nitzia Logothetis is a fan of the PBS TV series Downton Abbey and she’s deeply devoted to issues that affect the mental health and well-being of women. The current season of Downton Abbey brought us into Lady Mary’s life six months after her beloved husband, Matthew Crawley, was killed in an automobile accident on the day his son was born. Logothetis writes that there are many lessons we in real life can learn from Lady Mary’s fictional struggle with loss, motherhood, grief, and depression.

Lady Mary Downton AbbeyLogothetis and her husband, George, are the founders of a nonprofit organization called Seleni Institute, which is described online as the only center of its kind that offers advice and information for women as well as individual therapy, workshops and clinics, and funding for research that promotes mental health care and wellness for women.

According to Logothetis, it’s unknown to the viewing audience if Lady Mary’s despondency is the result of grief or postpartum depression but both these emotional states affect her ability to be a nurturing mother and it affects her son’s emotional state as well.

Even though depression during motherhood is thought to be common, Logothetis writes that is is often under-diagnosed and is rarely treated effectively. Some signs a new mother is depressed include:

  • Disengagement from her baby
  • Reluctance or resistance to play, read, or sing to her child
  • Less frequent touching and talking to her the baby

The children of depressed mothers feel the despair, too, and may develop emotional difficulties later in their lives that include:

  • Separation anxiety
  • Delays in cognitive development
  • Behavioral problems
  • Problems coping with stressful situations
  • Difficulty interacting with peers
  • Increased life-long likelihood of developing depression themselves

It would be nice to see Lady Mary’s struggles open the door to more conversation with real mothers about their mental state, writes Logothetis. She questions why we pay so much attention to the physical health of a new mother but so little to her mental health.

Fans of the TV show are abuzz with questions and speculations about poor Lady Mary and her son, George. Logothetis envisions a day when we’ll devote as much concern and attention to the plight of real mothers struggling with depression. She suggests that, for mothers, doing so would make it “much less scary to reach out for help” and perhaps they’d feel less alone.

Sources:

  • Logothetis, Mitzia. “What Lady Mary Can teach Us About Mental Health and New Moms.” HuffPost Parents. TheHuffingtonPost.com Inc. Jan 17, 2014. Web. Jan 31, 2014.
  • “Depression During & After Pregnancy: A Resource for Women, Their Families, & Friends.” HRSA Maternal and Child Health. US Department of Health and Human Services. n.d. Web. Jan 31, 2014.