Hayden Panettiere takes down critics of her decision to seek help for PPD
Hayden Panettiere is a successful, Emmy-nominated actress, but she’s also a mom who knows all too well what it’s like to struggle with postpartum depression (PPD). The 26-year-old Nashville star checked into a treatment facility for depression last October, and in a recent interview with Yahoo Style, she opened up about life after PPD and took the opportunity to put critics of the illness in their place.
Panettiere, who gave birth to daughter Kaya in December 2014, says her decision to seek treatment wasn’t easy, but she’s done worrying about how other people feel. “I was always so terrified that people weren’t going to accept me,” she said. “I finally just went, I’m tired of living afraid… I’m just going to put it all out there on the table and I’m not going to worry about the judgment.”
To her surprise, people responded more to her honesty than anything else. Many moms called her brave and confessed their own struggles with PPD. “The more open I was, the more acceptance I got from people,” says Panettiere. “I got so much support and so much love. I was floored. I feel much more exposed, yes, but in a great way.”
Of course, there were still many who criticized Panettiere, and more than anything, she wants those people to know how wrong they are. “It’s like you have no idea what you’re talking about,” she told Yahoo of people who criticize moms suffering from PPD. “If you think for one second that a mother wants to feel that way toward her child, you’re outta your mind. It is one of the most debilitating, scary, guilty feelings that you can ever feel.”
She continues, “That a mother would not be able to connect with their child, would not be able to get a grip, or would not know what’s going on, for anybody to say that it’s false or created by us, you must have your head examined.”
Can I get an amen?
One in seven mothers suffer from PPD, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, yet many people still think of it as something that only happens to “bad” moms, or even that women make it all up. Even in the comments on Panettiere’s Yahoo interview, people were quick to criticize her for speaking out, writing things like, “People complain about everything these days. Even well off celebrities having healthy kids can be made into a problem if you want it badly enough.”
The truth, of course, is exactly how Panettiere said it: no one chooses PPD. No one wants to live with depression or anxiety, to not be able to bond with their baby, or to feel empty and out of control during what’s supposed to be one of the most joyful times in their life. PPD is a real and debilitating illness — not a choice or a play for sympathy — and what women need more than anything is help and support so we can come out of it like Panettiere, healthier and stronger than ever before.