Stigma Reduction — 09 March 2016

Hayden Panettiere says people who tell women with postpartum depression to ‘suck it up’ need their ‘head examined.’

The Nashville actress, who gave birth to her daughter Kaya in December of 2014, checked into a rehabilitation centre in October of last year to get treatment for postpartum depression.

The 26-year-old has told Yahoo Style that it was one of the scariest times of her life and anyone who thinks women should brush it off needs to get their “head examined.”

“It’s like, you have no idea what you’re talking about,” Panettiere said of people who question postpartum depression.

“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.

“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.”

Panettiere, who is engaged to the father of her daughter, Ukrainian boxer Wladimir Klitschko, says she was “floored” by the support given to her after she spoke out about her battle.

“I was always so terrified that people weren’t going to accept me,” Panettiere told Yahoo! Style.

“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,” she added. “I got so much support and so much love. I was floored. I feel much more exposed, yes, but in a great way.”

And in a twist of art imitating life Hayden’s Nashville character Juliette also struggles with postpartum depression.

“It was strange having to throw myself back into that frame of mind,” Panettiere said.

“The way I do things is to pull from my own personal experience and sometimes even turn myself into what I’m portraying so that I can pull from my life and step into that person’s shoes by being able to relate.”

According to parenting website pregnancybirthbaby.org postnatal depression affects up to 1 in 7 pregnancies in Australia each year.

Not to be confused with the ‘baby blues’ which can go for 2-3 days after giving birth where one might feel teary, anxious and moody during that time, postnatal depression can involve prolonged thoughts of harm or self-harm, anxiety, panic attacks and a general feeling of being overwhelmed.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or call 000 if you believe there is immediate danger.

This article first appeared on ‘Women’s Weekly’ on 8 March 2016.

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