Despite the beautiful photos of the family of three cuddling in an all-white bed, and despite the accompanying interview, in which the actress raved about her insanely adorable daughter, Panettiere was suffering a bit from postpartum depression.
When the subject was brought up, Panettiere told Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan that she can relate to her character on Nashville, who's currently suffering from PPD. "I can very much relate. It's something a lot of women experience," Panettiere said. "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. It’s something that needs to be talked about. Women need to know that they’re not alone and that it does heal."
One of the most interesting things Panettiere brings to light here is the fact that postpartum depression isn't a one-size-fits-all condition. Typically, like the actress said, when we think of PPD, we think of new mothers who don't want to be around their baby or who want to harm themselves or their child. But that's only one form of PPD. Hopefully Panettiere's words will resonate with women who feel "off" after giving birth, and they'll realize that perhaps they do need help even though they don't have what they think are typical symptoms. According to Postpartum Support International, postpartum depression can manifest itself in numerous forms, including appetite and sleep disruptions, lack of interest in the baby, irritability and generally not feeling happy about things once enjoyed. Again, like Panettiere said, it's much more varied than feelings of wanting to harm your baby. Also, despite the fact that we don't typically talk about it, it's not that uncommon, with about 15 percent of women experiencing PPD symptoms after giving birth. Getting help if you think you have PPD is so, so important, as it doesn't just affect moms; it can affect their children too. So please, speak up!
The postpartum period is one of, if not the, most vulnerable times in a woman's life. She's emotional. She's exhausted. And physically, she's not herself. It doesn't exactly come as a surprise that many women don't want to talk about postpartum depression when they're going through it — there are so many things going on, and it is somewhat of a "taboo" subject. It's almost as if it's not OK to feel anything but absolute joy after having a baby, when that shouldn't be the case at all.
Hopefully Panettiere's brave admission will inspire women to talk more about postpartum depression and get the help they so desperately need. Panettiere is "better" now, but it's somewhat comforting to hear that, despite all the dreamy photos we see on Instagram and Twitter of celeb moms happily nursing their well-behaved babies, they too have difficulty adjusting to motherhood. In a way, it makes it feel less lonely, and it makes it feel a little more "OK" to talk about.
Kudos to Panettiere for not keeping this a secret and for using her powerful, far-reaching voice to bring awareness to a topic that's not usually talked about. It's encouraging to see that she's come out the other side, and it's an important issue that shouldn't be shameful to speak about any longer.
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