Like many mental health issues, postpartum depression has often been dismissed as something that should go away on its own. But this more than a bad case of the baby blues, as it lasts for weeks on end without getting better. According to the American Pregnancy Association, 9 to 16 percent of women will experience postpartum depression and, because of taboos, may not always get the help they need. Thankfully, in an effort to grow a community of support, more women are speaking out about the realities of this issue, include several celebrities who’ve suffered postpartum depression.
From a former Friends stars to Grammy award winners, many A-list moms have experienced some form of extreme depression after giving birth, proving that postpartum depression can happen to any new mom, regardless of circumstance. And, as their stories prove, postpartum depression is something that can be overcome with proper help and support; you don’t have to suffer in silence. Here is a quick rundown of the celebrities whose difficulties after childbirth went far beyond the baby blues. Hopefully, their stories can help you feel less alone if this type of depression is something that you have struggled with at any point in time. And if you have symptoms of postpartum depression, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for help. As the many support groups — and these outspoken A-listers — prove, it could happen to anyone, and help is available if you need it.
Drew Barrymore is the most recent celebrity to speak about her struggles her postpartum depression. As she explained to People magazine in October, while her first parenting experience was positive, the depression hit after the birth of her second child, Frankie. She described the experience as "overwhelming" and said she "really got under the cloud." As E! Online reported, she even included a chapter about her postpartum depression (called "Post Pardon Me") in her new memoir Wildflower.
During a recent appearance on Live With Kelly and Michael, Panettiere said she suffered postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter Kaya Evdokia, noting that everyone experiences it in a different way. “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,” the Nashville star said during her interview. “Some women do. But you don’t realize how broad of a spectrum you can really experience that on.”
Following the birth of her daughter Rowan in 2003, Shields suffered through serious postpartum depression. With medical attention and medication, she was able to overcome her struggle and, two years later, Down Came the Rain, which chronicles her struggles with postpartum depression.
Despite receiving criticism for her treatments, Shields has continued to be an advocate for postpartum depression awareness. “I’m convinced people still need to talk about PPD more,” she told Babble. “There is still a sort of shame surrounding it, and that’s so sad.”
Although the Academy Award winner had no issues after the birth of her daughter Apple, she struggled with postpartum depression following the birth of her son Moses in 2006. And had it not been for her then-husband Chris Martin, she may not have sought treatment.
“I just didn’t know what was wrong with me,” Paltrow said during an appearance on The Conversation With Amanda de Dadenet. “My husband actually said, ‘Something's wrong. I think you have postpartum depression.’” Paltrow hoped by coming out with her struggles, she’d be able to help other women. “We think that it makes us bad mothers or that we didn’t do it right, but it’s like, we’re all in this together.”
The former Friends star has no problems being candid about her struggles with postpartum depression. “I went through a really hard time — not right after the baby but when turned was six months,” she told People. “I couldn't sleep. My heart was racing. And I got really depressed. I went to the doctor and found out my hormones had been pummeled." To get through the difficult time, Cox said she took the steroid hormone progesterone to balance her hormones and sought support from her friends, including Brooke Shields.
The vocalist recounted her troubles with postpartum depression after having her twins in 2010. “Some of the first days after I came home, I was a little outside myself,” Dion told The Examiner. “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.”
The singer and actress suffered through postpartum depression long before it was so widely talking about, and even considered taking her own life. “When I had postpartum depression, I remember vividly driving that car and thinking how people would be better off without me," Osmand said in a 2010 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Marie says. "I really believed that."She later penned a book about her struggles with postpartum depression called Behind the Smile.
The actress and activist has also been very candid about her struggles with postpartum depression. As she told Gotham Magazine in 2008, she expected to feel fulfilled after giving birth to her daughter Frankie. Instead, she suffered from sleep deprivation and some mixed feelings. “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,’” she told the magazine. “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.”
The reality star and former TRL host has also opened up about some anxieties following the birth of her son Camden. Although she categorizes her difficulties as baby blues and not postpartum depression, Lachey did have some very relatable reactions to motherhood.
“No matter how many books you read, nothing prepares you better than the real thing,” Lachey wrote in her personal blog. “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. But at that moment . . . I felt like no one understood me.”
The singer and activist has been outspoken about her struggles with postpartum depression. “It was just a really intense time,” she recalled in a 2012 interview with ABC News. “f I could share anything with anyone that’s going through it, it would be to encourage them to seek help and reach out a little earlier than I did.”
“I thought women with postpartum depression wanted to hurt their babies. But for me, it had nothing to do with Ava,” the former Bachelor and Dancing With the Stars contestant told The Bump. “I had this big emptiness that you shouldn’t have right after you have a baby. I would get frustrated and angry really easily.”
The reality star explained her struggles with postpartum depression to In Touch magazine in 2012. "I was living under a gray cloud, and lost who I was," she said. The overall pressure was high for the television personality, who later said, "It took me two years to not only get my body back, but to feel like myself again."
13Bryce Dallas Howard
The Jurassic World actress struggled to cope with her postpartum depression immediately after giving birth to her son. “I seemed to be suffering emotional amnesia. I couldn’t genuinely cry, or laugh, or be moved by anything,” she wrote in a guest post for goop. “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.” Although she wishes she hadn’t suffered through it, she is adamant about making postpartum depression a major topic of conversation because, as she wrote, “the danger of being silent means only that others will suffer in silence.”
Images: gwynethpaltrow, drewbarrymore, brookeshields, gwynethpaltrow, vanessalachey, alanis, melrystrick, kendra_wilkinson_baskett/Instagram; hayden panettiere, CourteneyCox, celinedion, Jurassic World UK/Twitter; David Buchan, MARK RALSTON/Getty