Hayden Panettiere Gave Moms a Voice by Admitting Her Postpartum Depression

Hayden Panettierre

Postpartum depression can be a terribly isolating experience, even though women who suffer from the condition are hardly alone: According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 600,000 women experience symptoms of PPD every year in the United States. So Nashville star and mom Hayden Panettiere did mothers a huge service when she chose to speak out about her own struggles with PPD -- and that's why she deserves to be included in our Moms Who Inspire series!

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Twenty-six-year-old Hayden developed symptoms of postpartum depression after giving birth to her daughter Kaya Evdokia in December, 2014 (with fiancé Wladimir Klitschko). In September 2015, Hayden opened up on Kelly and Michael about what she was going through (symptoms which, coincidentally, mirrored her Nashville character Juliette's postpartum depression story line), saying:

I can very much relate. It's something a lot of women experience. 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.

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Yes! Such a true and eloquent statement. It almost seemed as if the actress had prepared her comments -- but later on, Hayden admitted that the profound, personal revelation was completely spontaneous:

Honestly, when I said [I had PPD] the first time on Kelly and Michael I didn't plan on it. We talked about it for a second, but it was just like a conversation, and I was like, 'Why should I be ashamed or hide when it costs so much?' It costs me so much to hide. It costs you so much to lie.

The only important thing to me is that I'm not causing myself pain and discomfort anymore, and I can be a strong woman for my daughter to look up to. It would [be] horrible for me to be going, 'You can be whomever you want! You can do whatever you want in life!' yet I was unable to follow the same words.

I have no doubt that little Kaya will indeed thank her mama someday for being so brave and honest. Hayden's not only inspiring her daughter to someday do the same, but she's also letting moms everywhere know that they don't need to be ashamed of having postpartum depression.

And that's something even moms without postpartum depression can appreciate. Hayden reminds us that it's okay to not feel 100 percent ecstatic all the time after having a baby -- something that can be hard to remember when what most new moms share are Instagram-worthy snapshots of fleeting moments when everything seemed perfect for a second or two.

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Hayden made even more headlines when she entered a treatment facility for her condition 10 months after giving birth, yet again doing moms the world over with PPD a huge favor by helping to normalize the need for help. Because make no mistake: There is still a huge stigma associated with postpartum depression (all types of depression and mental illness, really), and any time a celebrity can put a face to the disease, it inevitably helps to expand public awareness of that condition.

And we can't forget how much risk was involved in Hayden coming forward -- it wasn't so long ago, after all, that Tom Cruise lashed out at Brooke Shields for talking about her own experiences with (and treatment for) PPD. It's still a widely misunderstood condition, and one that too many people dismiss. But the reality of postpartum depression is incredibly painful, and can have tragic consequences.

If treated, on the other hand, moms can and do get better; not only that, they go on to lead happy, fulfilling lives as parents. By sharing the highs and lows of her journey with fans, Hayden is showing us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That's a pretty big deal. 

I'm not the only one who thinks so, either. As Hayden herself told Yahoo! Style:

I was always so terrified that people weren't going to accept me. I finally just went, 'I'm tired of living afraid. I'm tired of living in fear of what people are going to think, so you know, I'm just going to put it all out there on the table and I'm not going to worry about the judgment.'

The more open I was, the more acceptance I got from people. I got so much support and so much love. I was floored. I feel much more exposed, yes, but in a great way.

Support and love are exactly what Hayden deserves -- and what every other struggling mom deserves, too. Thank you, Hayden, for helping to bring other women that same level of acceptance and understanding!

 

Image via Russ Einhorn/Splash News; design by Anne Meadows

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