Postpartum depression (PPD) is super common, affecting one out of every seven people who give birth — as well as even some partners who didn’t give birth. But it’s something far too few parents speak openly about, likely due to stigma and fears of being seen as not stable or “good enough” to take care of our babies. That’s why when celebrity parents use their platforms to speak out against the stigma and honestly share their experiences, it’s all the more powerful — because they’re broadcasting the message that yes, this is normal. Yes, we are still good moms. Yes, so are you.
From Brooke Shields and Alanis Morissette to Adele and Reese Witherspoon, there are plenty of brave and openhearted celebrity moms out there who prove that you can indeed have PPD and a) overcome it and b) still be a badass mom. These celebs have revealed the harrowing experiences they had after giving birth in an effort to let other women know they’re not alone. Read on for their stories.
If you or a loved one are dealing with any form of postpartum emotional distress, please know that help is available. An excellent resource for information and support is Postpartum Progress. We repeat: you are not alone.
A version of this story was originally published in January 2017.
In 2016, Hayden Panettiere revealed she suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter, Kaya, 8. Panettiere got treatment for her PPD and has since become a vocal advocate for PPD awareness, so that other women will get help and that the subject will stop being so taboo.
“The more open I was, the more acceptance I got from people,” Panettiere told Yahoo! “I got so much support and so much love. I was floored. I feel much more exposed, yes, but in a great way.”
The Nashville star also spoke on Good Morning America about her recovery from PPD with Lara Spencer, who also suffered from the disorder. “It makes you a strong, resilient woman,” she said, of her fight and her recovery. “You just gotta let it make you stronger.”
Panettiere has also opened up about the crossover between PPD and substance abuse, telling Women’s Health she turned to alcohol and opioids to try to manage the pain when it felt “like all the walls were closing in.”
In an interview with E! News, Panettiere said she wishes she knew about PPD, what to look out for, and what would and wouldn’t help.
“I just thought there was something seriously wrong with me, so I thought, ‘Fireball will fix this—duh!'” she said. “And it didn’t. It does for a moment, but then it makes everything worse.”
She wishes someone had told her that PPD was not something she “should have to get over all by [herself],” and that it’s possible to give birth and not immediately feel an overwhelming sense of love.
“It’s OK and not abnormal if [your baby] comes out and it’s a blob, and you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is like a crazy little creation that I’m going to love when I get to know you.'”
In an interview with Vanity Fair Italy published in Feb. 2023, Kylie Jenner opened up about experiencing postpartum depression with Stormi, 5, and Aire, 2, who she shares with Travis Scott.
“I have experienced [postpartum depression]. Twice,” she said. “The first time was very difficult, the second was more manageable,” she went on, adding that her advice for moms is to “not to over-think things” and to “live all the emotions of that moment to the fullest.”
“Stay inside that moment, even if it is painful. I know, in those moments you think that it will never pass, that your body will never be the same as before, that you will never be the same,” Jenner continued. “That’s not true: the hormones, the emotions at that stage are much, much more powerful and bigger than you. My advice is to live through that transition, without fear of the aftermath. The risk is to miss all the most beautiful things of motherhood as well.”
So well said!
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sarah Michelle Gellar experienced postpartum depression after her firstborn, Charlotte, 13, was born. The Buffy The Vampire Slayer star, who shares Charlotte and son Rocky, 10, with husband Freddie Prinze Jr., wrote about her experience in a lengthy Instagram post on May 9, 2017.
“Having kids is wonderful, and life changing, and rarely what you’re prepared for,” she began, alongside a throwback photo of her and her baby girl. “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.”
She went on, “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.”
Sharna Burgess became a mom in June 2022 to Zane Walker Green with husband Brian Austin Green, and she experienced postpartum panic attacks and intrusive thoughts.
“I had imagined the absolute worst-case scenario. And I felt myself having this panic attack, which I’ve never had a panic attack before,” Burgess told Good Morning America. “I’m a new mom, and all of a sudden, I was in this full-blown panic attack.”
She also opened up about her intrusive thoughts in a Dec. 9, 2022 Instagram post, which Burgess described as “super dark thoughts of all the things that could go wrong. All the ways I or life could accidentally hurt my baby. Falling down stairs holding him, sickness, a car accident.. the list is long but I won’t share it. If you know you know.”
The former Dancing With the Stars pro described that she thinks it stems from having a “massive responsibility suddenly upon us when we leave that hospital… in a diaper.. sleep deprived, emotionally charged but also depleted, trying to piece ourselves back together and let’s not forget .. in pain.” She went on, “That new responsibility is filled with so much love, wonder and awe but nobody warns you about the equal amount of fear that now lives within you. It’s the most excruciating love you’ve ever felt and its overwhelming, at least for me it was.”
During a “Sunday Sitdown” interview with TODAY’s Willie Geist, Maren Morris opened up about her experience with postpartum depression following the birth of her son, Hayes, in March 2020. “I think a lot of identity crises happened there,” she said of becoming a mom in the midst of the global coronavirus outbreak.
She explained, “Not just being a new parent and a new mother and dealing with postpartum depression for the first time, and reeling from that, and trying to, like, find the forest through the trees, but also just knowing my worth without someone clapping for me.”
Morris shared that making music with her husband, fellow singer-songwriter Ryan Hurd, is ultimately what helped her to overcome PPD and the added darkness from the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was like, ‘Can we just please write something light to pull me out of this pandemic doldrum? I don’t wanna, you know, sit in the ashes very long here.’ He kind of just helped me in song form, and in just conversation form, figure out how to get to the light.”
Ayesha Curry recently opened up on the Because Life podcast about suffering from postpartum depression after the birth of her second child, son Ryan, with husband Steph Curry, but she didn’t have an official diagnosis at the time. She made the decision to stop breastfeeding at six months, which made her “feel like a failure” as pressure of life in the public eye only “brought some other insecurities with it.”
She’s now ready to help end the stigma around PPD and it’s why Curry feels like it’s a hot topic for parents to discuss. “It’s not anything we talked about with our moms at the time,” she said. “It was this invisible thing. Even to this day, I’ve never heard my mom talk about it. They didn’t experience that. It might have been a sign of the times.”
Gwyneth Paltrow went through a hard time after her second child, son Moses, was born. She revealed to Entertainment Tonight, “Luckily [my case] was low grade enough that I didn’t have to be hospitalized, but it’s a very debilitating thing, and I think there’s so much shame around it, and there shouldn’t be. It’s something that happens, it’s something that befalls many women after they have a baby, and for me, it ended up being a wonderful opportunity to explore some underlying issues that I think the depression kind of brought out.”
Amanda Seyfried made a decision with her doctor during her first pregnancy with daughter Nina to stay on the antidepressant she had been on “for years and years and years.” The A Mouthful of Air star revealed to SheKnows that she was “so lucky to have had that research and to have that confidence in taking my medicine while I was pregnant.”
The actress believes this move helped her avoid postpartum depression through both of her pregnancies. “I don’t want to feel bad, I don’t want to feel scared,” Seyfried explained. “I want to feel as supported as possible because this country doesn’t support women, maternal mental health, or maternal health at all. Postpartum, the fourth trimester, is nothing, it doesn’t exist to the health care industry at all.”
“My knowledge of postpartum — or postnatal, 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,” Adele explained in an interview with Vanity Fair, explaining why she hadn’t initially thought she had PPD. “I was obsessed with my child,” she noted. It was unlike PPD cases she’d heard about where the mother felt disconnected from her baby. But still, she was struggling.
“I felt very inadequate; I felt like I’d made the worst decision of my life,” Adele continued. Now, she’s comfortable admitting that she “had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son, and it frightened me,” she told the publication.
Witherspoon told Jameela Jamil on her I Weigh podcast that she experienced varying degrees of PPD with her different kids.
“I’ve had three kids. After each child I had a different experience. One kid I had kind of mild postpartum, and one kid I had severe postpartum where I had to take pretty heavy medication because I just wasn’t thinking straight at all. And then I had one kid where I had no postpartum at all.”
She added that she was “completely out of control” after the birth of her first child, daughter Ava Phillipe, and that seeking help was absolutely key to her recovery.
Chrissy Teigen opened up in an interview with Net-a-Porter about the postpartum depression she experienced after her daughter Luna’s birth — and how she felt guilty for feeling bad at all.
“I felt bad [about it] because we had so many resources. John was great and helpful. My mom was here… I was embarrassed,” she recalled. “I was prescribed Lexapro [an antidepressant] when I was a teenager, and then I just quit cold turkey, not thinking it was a real thing. I thought everyone had problems like mine, like it was part of life.”
Today, Teigen is back on medication and doing better than ever.
Brooke Shields didn’t just talk about her postpartum depression, she wrote a book about it — Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression — where she detailed her battle from start to finish. “[My daughter] Rowan was a complete stranger to me,” Shields said. “I had always thought there would be an instant bond, but no matter how long I stared, I couldn’t seem to feel one. I kept leaning over and smelling her to see if I could recognize her scent. She was able to look directly at me, as if she had everything all figured out. She seemed pure and honest and raw, and it unsettled me.”
The tennis icon opened up about her experiences with postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter, writing on Instagram:
“I felt like I was not a good mom. I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with,” she explained.
What helped her get through it? “I like communication best,” Williams continued in her post. “Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal. It’s totally normal to feel like I’m not doing enough for my baby.”
After she gave birth to her second baby, daughter Frankie, Drew Barrymore revealed that she suffered from PPD. “I didn’t have postpartum the first time, 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,'” Barrymore told People. “It’s a different type of overwhelming with the second. I really got under the cloud.”
In 2005, nearly a year after she gave birth to her daughter Coco, Courteney Cox told USA Today that she suffered from PPD a few months after she became a mom. “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. I went to the doctor and found out my hormones had been pummeled.”
After Celine Dion had her twins, Nelson and Eddy, she unsurprisingly felt very overwhelmed. Dion told GALA magazine, “One moment, tremendous happiness; the next, fatigue sets in, and I cried for no reason, and then that took care of itself.” She also added, “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.”
After the 2010 birth of her son Ever, Morissette went through a “really intense time.” On Good Morning America, Morissette encouraged women suffering with PPD to get help sooner rather than later, saying, “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.”
Vanessa Lachey revealed that, after the birth of her son Camden, she “came undone.” In a candid blog post, Lachey talked about her experience, saying, “I noticed a swing in my emotions. At this point I was sick of feeling like a milk machine. 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.” Lachey also confessed that the early days of motherhood were nothing like what she had envisioned. “I imagined blissful days, tired nights, but quiet loving moments,” she wrote. “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.”
Back in 2005, Carnie Wilson admitted to suffering postpartum depression after the birth of her daughter, Lola. “I cried all day over everything,” Wilson told People. “It’s a physical feeling. I don’t know how to describe it. You’re overwhelmed with love and joy, then sadness and fear. You’re so afraid you’re going to fail this baby. What if you drop her or hurt her? She’s totally dependent on you, and it’s scary.”
Kendra Wilkinson had a hard time after her son Hank Jr. was born in 2009. Nearly two years after she became a mother, Wilkinson opened up about her private battle with PPD to People. “It got pretty bad, [but] not to the point where I would harm my family. I was a great mom and did what I needed to, but I was definitely very depressed,” Wilkinson revealed. “[Motherhood is] a big change in life, and it happened overnight.” Wilkinson also said that PPD “needs to be talked about.”
Teen Mom star Catelynn Lowell felt severely depressed after she gave birth to daughter Novalee in 2015. “I started having severe panic and anxiety attacks in the middle of the night, which led me into a deep depression,” she admitted. “I couldn’t stop crying. I felt I’d be better off dead. I needed help.”
Former star of The Real Housewives of Orange County Peggy Tanous confessed to suffering from PPD in a blog post for Bravo. Remembering what her experience was like, Tanous revealed, “I finally had everything I had wanted, a great husband and amazing children, but I felt as if nothing was ever enough to make me happy. It was as if I never had enough of anything, but now being healthier I realize it isn’t about getting enough of something, but rather having a different frame of mind!”
Leave a Comment