Celebrity Moms Share Their Battled With Postpartum Depression- In Their Own Words.
Drew Barrymre, Brooke Shields, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marie Osmond and others who are among the many celebrity moms who have all spoken out about overcoming postpartum
Postpartum depression (noun): A form of severe depression after delivery that interferes with daily functioning and requires treatment. It can occur a few days, weeks, or even months after childbirth. A woman with postpartum depression may have feelings of sadness, despair, anxiety, and irritability to a severe degree. 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression.
“Postpartum depression is hard to describe—the way the body and mind and spirit fracture and crumble in the wake of what most believe should be a celebratory time.” – Bryce Dallas Howard
Hayden Panettiere recently entered rehab for postpartum depression and Drew Barrymore also spoke out about battling the mental illness. In addition to Panettiere and Barrymore, celebrities like Brooke Shields, Amanda Peet and Courteney Cox have also spoken out about postpartum depression. Here’s a look at what they each had to say.
“With each of my children, I had some level of postpartum depression. It was a very challenging, emotional time for me, because I felt like I was not living up to my potential as a parent, or as an entrepreneur and an executive. I had had such easy pregnancies that in some way the juxtaposition hit me even harder.” “It’s incredibly important, and look, I consider myself a very hard-charging person,” she said. “I am ambitious, I’m passionate, I’m driven, but this is something that affects parents all over the country.”
“I had everything I needed to be happy. And yet, for much of the last year, I felt unhappy. What basically everyone around me—but me—knew up until December was this: I have postpartum depression…I looked at my doctor, and my eyes welled up because I was so tired of being in pain. Of sleeping on the couch. Of waking up throughout the night. Of throwing up. Of taking things out on the wrong people. Of not enjoying life. Of not seeing my friends. Of not having the energy to take my baby for a stroll. My doctor pulled out a book and started listing symptoms. And I was like, “Yep, yep, yep.” I got my diagnosis: postpartum depression and anxiety…I felt selfish, icky, and weird saying aloud that I’m struggling. Sometimes I still do…I’m speaking up now because I want people to know it can happen to anybody and I don’t want people who have it to feel embarrassed or to feel alone.”
The Real Housewives of Orange County alum and new mom spoke candidly about how the “difficult period” she went through after giving birth to her daughter led her to realize she was experiencing “serious postpartum.”“I make a joke that I’m gonna write a book called It’s All a Lie,” Rossi said during an episode of The Doctors, on which she and fiancé Slade Smiley appeared to talk about how life has changed since they welcomed daughter Skylar Gray on July 10, 2019. “I really wasn’t connecting with [Skylar] at the very beginning,” she said. “Then I came to realize [when] I went to my pediatrician’s appointment and I was crying and broke down in that appointment, and my pediatrician said, ‘You know, Gretchen, I think maybe you need to think about the fact that you might have some serious postpartum.’” “I was like, ‘No, not me. I don’t have that. I’m happy! I’m such a positive person all the time,’” she continued. “I was really struggling, and I was having an internal conflict with the fact that I had this beautiful, amazing miracle baby — literally, she was a miracle for us — and I just was having a hard time compartmentalizing how to manage my life now with this new baby,” Rossi explained.
“My mom sat me down when I was probably 18, and she said, ‘There is serotonin imbalance in our family line, and it can often be passed from female to female’…but [my mom’s] a nurse, and she had the wherewithal to recognize that in herself when she was feeling it and when I was 18, said, ‘If you start to feel like you are twisting things around you, and you start to feel like there is no sunlight around you, and you are paralyzed with fear, this is what it is and here’s how you can help yourself.’ And I’ve always had a really open and honest dialogue about that, especially with my mom, which I’m so grateful for. Because you have to be able to cope with it. I mean, I present that very cheery bubbly person, but I also do a lot of work, I do a lot of introspective work and I check in with myself when I need to exercise and I got on a prescription when I was really young to help with my anxiety and depression and I still take it today. And I have no shame in that because my mom had said if you start to feel this way, talk to your doctor, talk to a psychologist and see how you want to help yourself. And if you do decide to go on a prescription to help yourself, understand that the world wants to shame you for that, but in the medical community, you would never deny a diabetic his insulin. Ever. But for some reason, when someone needs a serotonin inhibitor, they’re immediately crazy or something. And I don’t know, it’s a very interesting double standard that I often don’t have the ability to talk about but I certainly feel no shame about.”
“I didn’t have postpartum the first time [I had a baby] so I didn’t understand it because I was like, ‘I feel great!…The second time, I was like, ‘Oh, whoa, I see what people talk about now. I understand.’“It’s a different type of overwhelming with the second. I really got under the cloud.”
“I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son, and it frightened me. My knowledge of postpartum — or post-natal, as we call it in England — is that you don’t want to be with your child; you’re worried you might hurt your child; you’re worried you weren’t doing a good job. But I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate; I felt like I’d made the worst decision of my life.”
Bryce Dallas Howard
“It is strange for me to recall what I was like at that time. I seemed to be suffering emotional amnesia. I couldn’t genuinely cry, or laugh, or be moved by anything. For the sake of those around me, including my son, I pretended, but when I began showering again in the second week, I let loose in the privacy of the bathroom, water flowing over me as I heaved uncontrollable sobs. Do I wish I had never endured postpartum depression? Absolutely. But to deny the experience is to deny who I am. I still mourn the loss of what could have been, but I also feel deep gratitude for those who stood by me, for the lesson that we must never be afraid to ask for help, and for the feeling of summer that still remains.”
Howard gave birth to the couple’s second child, daughter Beatrice, in 2012.
“I went through a really hard time — not right after the baby, but when (Coco) turned 6 months, I couldn’t sleep. My heart was racing. And I got really depressed.”
Her doctor told Courteney that her “hormones had been pummeled.” She took progesterone and relied on friends like Brooke Shields and Jennifer Aniston as she recovered.
“When my son, Moses, came into the world in 2006, I expected to have another period of euphoria following his birth, instead I was confronted with one of the darkest and most painfully debilitating chapters of my life.” “I couldn’t access my heart. I couldn’t access my emotions. I couldn’t connect. It was terrible. It was the exact opposite of what had happened when Apple was born. With her, I was on cloud nine. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t the same [after Moses was born]. I just thought it meant I was a terrible mother and a terrible person.” “I couldn’t connect with my son the way that I had with my daughter and I couldn’t understand why. I couldn’t connect to anyone. I felt like a zombie. I felt very detached. I just didn’t know what was wrong with me. My husband actually said, ‘Something’s wrong. I think you have postnatal depression.’ I was mortified. ‘No I don’t!’ And then I started researching what it was and the symptoms and I was like, ‘Oh, yes I do.”
Brooke Shields wrote a book about her experience, called Down Came the Rain: My Journey With Postpartum Depression.“At first I thought what I was feeling was just exhaustion, but with it came an overriding sense of panic that I had never felt before,” writes Shields. “Rowan kept crying, and I began to dread the moment when Chris would bring her back to me. I started to experience a sick sensation in my stomach; it was as if a vise were tightening around my chest. Instead of the nervous anxiety that often accompanies panic, a feeling of devastation overcame me.”She added, “I also didn’t feel like I wanted to get too close to Rowan. I wasn’t afraid she was too fragile; I just felt no desire to pick her up. Every time I have ever been near a baby, any baby, I have always wanted to hold the child. It shocked me that I didn’t want to hold my own daughter.”
Vanessa Lachey wrote about the “baby blues” she experienced on her blog. “I started crying. I was feeding Camden and crying my eyes out. I felt like I had officially come undone,” wrote Lachey. “I imagined blissful days, tired nights, but quiet loving moments. I imagined family dinners with the 12 casseroles I prepared ahead of time, and a beautiful post-pregnancy glow that embodied me 24-7. But This was none of that.”She added, “I didn’t feel like myself. Where was the super woman who always thought and knew she could do it all? Where was the organized Vanessa who had it all under control no matter what the obstacle? She was gone, and I thought… forever.”“The fear of not knowing what I’m doing, the fear of ‘messing up’ this little boy. The fear of being responsible for a human being and not knowing any ‘life’ experiences to compare moments with him to. No matter how many books you read, NOTHING prepares you better than the real thing. I felt lost, unloved, alone and at my wits end. It’s weird, too, because I have an amazing and supportive husband, his loving family and wonderful friends.”“I felt like NO ONE understood me,” she continues. “No one knows my thoughts, my fears, my wishes… heck, I didn’t even know my own wishes. Nick would say, ‘What can I do?’ and I’d say, ‘I don’t know!’ And it’s true! I didn’t know!”
“I had a fairly serious postpartum depression, I think it was because I had a really euphoric pregnancy.” She said she felt “sleep-deprived beyond belief” and her euphoria “came crashing down” when her daughter was born. “I want to be honest about it because I think there’s still so much shame when you have mixed feelings about being a mom instead of feeling this sort of ‘bliss.,’” said Peet. “I think a lot of people still really struggle with that, but it’s hard to find other people who are willing to talk about it.”
“It’s something a lot of women experience,” Hayden Panettiere said on Live with Kelly and Michael. “When you’re told about postpartum depression you think it’s ‘I feel negative feelings towards my child, I want to injure or hurt my child’ — I’ve never, ever had those feelings. Some women do.” “But you don’t realize how broad of a spectrum you can really experience that on,” she continued. “It’s something that needs to be talked about. Women need to know that they’re not alone, and that it does heal.” The Nashville star struggled with postpartum depression after the 2014 birth of her daughter Kaya with her fiancé, professional boxer Wladimir Klitschko. “[She] is voluntarily seeking professional help at a treatment center as she is currently battling postpartum depression,” her rep says. On Live! with Kelly and Michael in September 2016, Panettiere opened up about the struggle, saying, “There’s a lot of misunderstanding – there’s a lot of people out there that think that it’s not real, that it’s not true, that it’s something that’s made up in their minds, that ‘Oh, it’s hormones.’ They brush it off. It’s something that’s completely uncontrollable. It’s really painful and it’s really scary, and women need a lot of support.”
After years of having her anxiety and postpartum depression be overlooked by those around her, Milano penned an essay for TIME about how she finally got help and how important it is to know you’re not alone. “This Mental Health Awareness Month, I am joining the people nationwide who are standing up, sharing their stories and demanding that lawmakers defend our access to health care,” writes the actress. She continues to detail her “beautiful” first pregnancy and strict birth plan, which didn’t go as planned, triggering intense anxiety and postpartum depression after complications resulted in her getting a C-section after hours of labor. “That first night, after we returned from the hospital, I suffered my first anxiety attack. I felt like I had already disappointed my child.” But after seeking and finding help, the actress has recognized how crucial it is to be seen and heard when suffering from PPD, and is working to raise awareness. She ends on an invitation: “And if you see me on the street, please come tell me that I am not alone.”
“The degree and intensity of my post-natal depression shocked me, I am predisposed to depression, but what surprised me this time was the physical pain. I hadn’t realized the depths to which you can ache – limbs, back, torso, head, everything hurt – and it went on for 15 months. I felt as if I was covered in tar and everything took 50 times more effort than normal. It was just a really intense time and if I could share anything with anyone who’s going through it, it would be to encourage them to seek help and reach out a little earlier than I did.” After being diagnosed about a year-and-a-half after her first pregnancy, she was prepared to face PPD again following the July 2016 birth of daughter Onyx. “I was at the ready, whether I’m adjusting this hormonally or through vitamins or through omegas or allopathic medicine or whatever, I was ready to do anything. I’m used to being the rock of Gibraltar, I’m used to providing and protecting, and for postpartum times, I was devastated and it had me questioning my identity … it had me questioning everything.” Morissette said she’s pulling through — “I show up because I see my little kids’ faces” — and is eternally grateful to husband Souleye for his support. “Even just sitting near my husband and leaning on him and hearing his heart beat … it’s so healing,” she shared. She hopes by telling her story, she’ll be able to help other moms going through PPD, as well.
Lena Headey was diagnosed with PPD while filming season 1 of Game of Thrones but had to continue balancing work and motherhood to son Wylie, now 7. “I saw a doctor for the medical check, and I just burst into tears. She said I was post-natally depressed and I went, ‘Am I? Why is that?” “I saw a great guy and he sorted me out, but I did the first year (on GoT) in that space, figuring out motherhood and going through a weird time personally. It was tricky.”
Sarah Michelle Gellar
“Having kids is wonderful, and life changing, and rarely what you’re prepared for,” “I love my children more than anything in the world. But like a lot of women, I too struggled with postpartum depression after my first baby was born. I got help, and made it through, and every day since has been the best gift I could ever have asked for. To those of you going through this, know that you’re not alone and that it really does get better…”
“One moment, tremendous happiness; the next, fatigue sets in, and I cried for no reason, and then that took care of itself,” Celine Dion says of her twins’ births. “Some of the first days after I came home, I was a little outside myself. I had no appetite, and that bothered me. My mother remarked that she noticed I had moments of lifelessness, but reassured me that this was entirely normal. It’s for things like that after having a baby that mothers really need emotional support.”
Marie writes in Behind the Smile: “The doctor had warned me to go easy, but I thought his advice was for somebody else. It couldn’t be for anyone as tough as me. I could handle it. I could have a baby and get right back to work. I could get my family moved, make business decisions, get back in shape. I could get past the “baby blues.” I could do whatever needed to be done. Five minutes later, I was sitting on the kitchen floor, heaving with sobs and all I could think was, “This can’t be happening to me.” This couldn’t be me, collapsing in hysteria, not even recognizing my own wails. This was not me, shaken to the core, sliding into a despair of the deepest kind. Whoever this was, she had no control of her emotions. Whoever this was, I wanted nothing to do with her. I wanted her away from my house, my children, and my baby.”
“After having my first daughter Delilah, I had severe postpartum depression, I kept it a secret. I didn’t say a word to anybody in the world. My husband thought I was just nuts. He had no idea what was going on and I was so hopeless and felt so lost.” “Ten months later, I opened up to him and told him how worthless I felt. My self-esteem was gone. I didn’t want to have sex. It was opening up something that I felt so much shame about was the most valuable thing that I could have done.”
Selma Blair became and instant fan favorite of mothers everywhere after opening up about her postpartum hair loss giving birth to Arthur Saint. “It just started falling out at the three-month mark. I’m not a girl who likes extensions, so Selma’s going to be bald!”
“This is so not glamorous, but it’s true: I need to take longer showers so that I can collect the hair that falls out and throw it away so I don’t clog the drain. Why do actresses never talk about that?” she said.
“After giving birth (to each of her 2 kids, Jank Jr. and Alijah), I never brushed my hair, my teeth, or took a shower. I looked in the mirror one day and was really depressed. I thought, ‘Look at me!’ I had this glamorous life in LA, and now [in Indianapolis] I didn’t. A couple of times, I even said, ‘I just have nothing to live for.”
“I cried all day over everything. It’s a physical feeling. You’re overwhelmed with love and joy, then sadness and fear. You’re so afraid you’re going to fail this baby (daughter Lola Sofia). What if you drop her or hurt her? She’s totally dependent on you and it’s scary.”
Melissa Rycroft Strickland
“I thought I had a really bad case of the baby blues. I was three months into it (with daughter Ava) before I realized it could be postpartum depression. I had a massive case of denial, though. I thought women with postpartum depression wanted to hurt their babies. But for me, it had nothing to do with Ava. I had this big emptiness that you shouldn’t have right after you have a baby. I was like, I don’t want to seem like I’m not happy — it’s just that there’s something chemically wrong. I would get frustrated and angry really easily. Usually I’m very in control with my emotions, and that had changed. I found out that I actually had a classic case of postpartum depression. Only 1 percent of the cases are the more extreme kind. Most cases are like what I’d been going through. It’s just that a lot of people don’t talk about it, and I felt like the only person going through it.”
Multiple family sources revealed that Britney Spears also suffered from depression after both her pregnancies. “She had postpartum depression after Preston was born,” says a source who was close to the family during her marriage to Kevin Federline. “She didn’t want anyone’s help … It got worse after Jayden was born” …A close family friend says “the tragic thing is that Britney loves her children and would never knowingly put them in harms way. Her mental instability is getting in the way of her making proper judgment and it’s extremely unfortunate.”
The artist — who has been open about managing depression and anxiety — she dealt with postpartum depression in late 2018. “That got me the hardest when I stopped breastfeeding [daughter Carmella] around Christmas. I was so sad and so dark,” Perri said. “We’re almost made to pretend it’s not happening, like, ‘It’s fine. I’ve got this.’ ”After sharing her struggle on social media, Perri said more than 15,000 mothers reached out over Instagram, sending messages of support.“What really helped was talking about it,” she said. “It was just overwhelming. It made me feel so much better. All the women said ‘me too, me too, me too’ and really got me through it. I’ve got my mommy tribe that got bigger because of that.”
Kayla Rae Reid
Almost a year after welcoming son, Caiden Zane, with husband, Ryan Lochte, Kayla Rae Reid, opened up about her battle with postpartum depression in a candid YouTube video titled My Journey with PPD: Postpartum Depression. “I was dead inside,” Reid recalled, adding that there were days she wouldn’t want to get out of bed. “It makes me so sad because you don’t want to feel like that because you just gave birth to something. You know you are their everything, and everything you do is for them. I don’t know why I felt like that, but I did.” Nearly one year later since having her little one, Reid still doesn’t necessarily think she’s “overcome” postpartum depression. “I still have good days and bad days,” she admitted. “I have way more good days, and I actually see life as worth living, and I did not all,” Reid continued. “And that just blows my mind to say that, but I really didn’t.”
Signs of Postpartum Depression
You are not alone. Talk to your doctor and get help. It’s common for women to experience the “baby blues” — feeling stressed, sad, anxious, lonely, tired or weepy — following their baby’s birth. But some women, up to 1 in 7, experience a much more serious mood disorder — postpartum depression. (Postpartum psychosis, a condition that may involve psychotic symptoms like delusions or hallucinations, is a different disorder and is very rare.) Unlike the baby blues, PPD doesn’t go away on its own. It can appear days or even months after delivering a baby; it can last for many weeks or months if left untreated. PPD can make it hard for you to get through the day, and it can affect your ability to take care of your baby, or yourself. PPD can affect any woman—women with easy pregnancies or problem pregnancies, first-time mothers and mothers with one or more children, women who are married and women who are not, and regardless of income, age, race or ethnicity, culture or education.
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