15 Famous Women on Postpartum Depression

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Up to one in seven women experiences postpartum depression, according to the American Psychological Association. Symptoms vary but may include a loss of pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable, anxiety and panic attacks, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, disinterest in or a fear of being left alone with the baby, irritability and mood swings, and more. The APA suggests mothers seek treatment if any of these symptoms go on for longer than two weeks.

In an effort to lessen the stigma surrounding postpartum depression, a handful of famous mothers have used their platforms to share their own experiences. Model Chrissy Teigen most recently wrote about her journey of being diagnosed with postpartum depression, and others including Brooke Shields, Bryce Dallas Howard, Adele, and Princess Diana have been candid about their struggles with postpartum depression in the past. Read on for their stories and advice.

Chrissy Teigen

“Before the holidays I went to my GP for a physical. John sat next to me. I looked at my doctor, and my eyes welled up because I was so tired of being in pain. Of sleeping on the couch. Of waking up throughout the night. Of throwing up. Of taking things out on the wrong people. Of not enjoying life. Of not seeing my friends. Of not having the energy to take my baby for a stroll. My doctor pulled out a book and started listing symptoms. And I was like, ‘Yep, yep, yep.’ I got my diagnosis: postpartum depression and anxiety. I remember being so exhausted but happy to know that we could finally get on the path of getting better. John had that same excitement. I started taking an antidepressant, which helped. And I started sharing the news with friends and family — I felt like everyone deserved an explanation, and I didn’t know how else to say it other than the only way I know: just saying it. It got easier and easier to say it aloud every time. (I still don’t really like to say, ‘I have postpartum depression,’ because the word depression scares a lot of people. I often just call it ‘postpartum.’ Maybe I should say it, though. Maybe it will lessen the stigma a bit.)” — Glamour, April 2017

Bryce Dallas Howard

“I loved being pregnant. Yes, I threw up every day for six months, and yes, the stretch marks were (and still are) obscene. But I treasured every moment I had with this new life growing inside me … Mostly I recall the moment someone handed my son to me, and I heard shouts of joy, and my father crying, ‘Bryce, you’re an incredible mother!’ And then … Nothing. I felt nothing … It is strange for me to recall what I was like at that time. I seemed to be suffering emotional amnesia. I couldn’t genuinely cry, or laugh, or be moved by anything. For the sake of those around me, including my son, I pretended, but when I began showering again in the second week, I let loose in the privacy of the bathroom, water flowing over me as I heaved uncontrollable sobs.” — Goop, July 2010


“I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son, and it frightened me … But also, I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I was very reluctant. … My boyfriend said I should talk to other women who were pregnant, and I said, ‘Fuck that, I ain’t hanging around with a fuckin’ bunch of mothers.’ Then, without realizing it, I was gravitating toward pregnant women and other women with children, because I found they’re a bit more patient. You’ll be talking to someone, but you’re not really listening, because you’re so fuckin’ tired. My friends who didn’t have kids would get annoyed with me, whereas I knew I could just sit there and chat absolute mush with my friends who had children, and we wouldn’t judge each other. One day I said to a friend, ‘I fuckin’ hate this,’ and she just burst into tears and said, ‘I fuckin’ hate this, too.’ And it was done. It lifted.” — Vanity Fair, December 2016

Gwyneth Paltrow

“I felt like a zombie. I couldn’t access my heart. I couldn’t access my emotions. I couldn’t connect. It was terrible. It was the exact opposite of what had happened when Apple was born. With her, I was on cloud nine. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t the same [after Moses was born]. I just thought it meant I was a terrible mother and a terrible person … About four months into it, Chris [Martin] came to me and said, ‘Something’s wrong. Something’s wrong.’ I kept saying, ‘No, no, I’m fine.’ But Chris identified it, and that sort of burst the bubble … The hardest part for me was acknowledging the problem. I thought postpartum depression meant you were sobbing every single day and incapable of looking after a child. But there are different shades of it and depths of it, which is why I think it’s so important for women to talk about. It was a trying time. I felt like a failure.” — Good Housekeeping, February 2011

Drew Barrymore

“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, whoah, I see what people talk about now. I understand.’ It’s a different type of overwhelming with the second. I really got under the cloud.” — People, October 2015

Amy Poehler

“It was [hard to deal with postpartum depression while preparing for a new show]. I mean, I look back now and realize that I was unprepared for what my emotions and body and energy level would, you know, consist of. And I had to go to LA and start this show, and, you know, my baby was only a few months old. … I think I tortured myself a bit in that first year about what kind of mother I was. And could I do this thing well and also kind of, like, give birth to this new show? … There’s not enough, in my opinion, not enough working mothers who kind of talk about who they leaned on and how they got through that difficult time. There’s this thing where, you know, nobody likes to talk about how difficult things are. Everybody likes to talk about how easy it is, or can be, if you only do X, Y, and Z. But it’s difficult to be away from your baby and to be working hard and also want to be working. And it’s difficult to be staying at home after you’ve been a person who maybe wasn’t.” — NPR, October 2014

Hayden Panettiere

“When [you’re told] about postpartum depression you think it’s: ‘I feel negative feelings toward 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 … There’s a lot of misunderstanding — there are a lot of people out there that think that it’s not real, that it’s not true, that it’s something that’s made up in their minds — ‘Oh, it’s hormones.’ They brush it off. It’s something that’s completely uncontrollable. It’s really painful and it’s really scary and women need a lot of support.” — Live! with Kelly and Michael, September 2015

Marie Osmond

“I had severe postpartum depression. When I got to the point of postpartum depression, there was no reason to get out of bed; I was too overwhelmed to get dressed. It was just so dark. I think that’s the only word I can explain. I finally just handed my baby to the babysitter, I gave her my credit cards and cash, and I said, ‘Something’s wrong with me.’ And I just got in the car and drove away … I think I was trying to drive my car off a cliff probably five times. But, you know what, I was raised a very religious person — I’m Christian, and I knew here [points to head] that that was the stupidest thing in the world, but I knew here [points to heart] it felt so right. That I really felt that everybody would be better off without me. That is the biggest lie of depression. There is nothing good in leaving anybody behind. So if you are feeling that, please know that there will be light and get help because that is an absolute lie … My mother tracked me down. She said, ‘When I had your brother, my last child, I did the same thing you did. I got in a car and I drove away.’ And she said, ‘I made it through it and so will you.’ And I never believed that was possible, but I believed my mother.” — The Dr. Oz Show, April 2016

Brooke Shields

“I really didn’t want to live anymore. [I would think,] ‘I just want to leap out of my life,’ but then the rational side of me [would say], ‘You’re only on the fourth floor. You’ll get broken to bits and then you will be even worse.’ … [My husband] would say, ‘Oh, my God, she’s crying,’ and I would respond, ‘Yeah, baby. She’s crying. I wonder what she wants?’ It was like this weird alien overtook my body and every appropriate response was answered with the antithesis of what you would assume … Postpartum depression takes certain truths and turns them into the worst version of the truth. The truth is, your life is changed forever when you have a child, but what you don’t factor in is that it might be better and it might be more enriched.” — WebMD Magazine, April/May 2005

Alanis Morissette

“The degree and intensity of my [postpartum] depression shocked me. I am predisposed to depression, but what surprised me this time was the physical pain. I hadn’t realized the depths to which you can ache: limbs, back, torso, head, everything hurt — and it went on for 15 months. I felt as if I was covered in tar and everything took 50 times more effort than normal. I wished I could have cried but there was no relief during that time; my version of depression is almost below crying, where there is just despondency. Amazingly, it didn’t hinder the creative process and I wrote the album [Havoc and Bright Lights]. I had various therapies and now I feel all light and springy. Thankfully, it didn’t interfere with the bond with my son, although I think that has strengthened since I got better in April.” — the Daily Mail, August 2012

Kendra Wilkinson

“After giving birth to my son, I had struggled with depression, and there were a lot of the same feelings I had when I was a teenager. I’d never taken care of a baby; I’d never even held a baby or changed a diaper until my son, baby Hank. I never even knew one rule or one thing to do. I really went on instincts. I think it’s important to talk about because nobody really talked about it — I didn’t know I was going to get that depressed. I would always hear about postpartum, but I never really believed it was true. There were times I couldn’t handle what I was going through. I snapped a couple times, I screamed — but I never put my baby in danger. Whenever he would take a nap, I would take it all out and cry. You can’t really control what you feel inside after you have a baby.” — The Huffington Post, September 2011

Diana, Princess of Wales

“Well, everybody was thrilled to bits. It had been quite a difficult pregnancy — I hadn’t been very well throughout it — so by the time William arrived it was a great relief because it was all peaceful again, and I was well for a time. Then I was unwell with [postpartum] depression, which no one ever discusses … you have to read about it afterwards, and that in itself was a bit of a difficult time. You’d wake up in the morning feeling you didn’t want to get out of bed, you felt misunderstood, and just very, very low in yourself … I never had had a depression in my life. But then when I analyzed it, I could see that the changes I’d made in the last year had all caught up with me, and my body had said: ‘We want a rest.’… I received a great deal of treatment, but I knew in myself that actually what I needed was space and time to adapt to all the different roles that had come my way. I knew I could do it, but I needed people to be patient and give me the space to do it.” — BBC1, November 1995

Courteney Cox

“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.” — USA Today, July 2005

Amanda Peet

“I want to be honest about [postpartum depression] because I think there’s still so much shame when you have mixed feelings about being a mom instead of feeling this sort of ‘bliss.’ I think a lot of people still really struggle with that, but it’s hard to find other people who are willing to talk about it.” — Gotham, August 2008

Lisa Rinna

“After having my first daughter, Delilah, I had severe postpartum depression. I kept it secret. I didn’t say a word to anybody in the world. [My husband] thought I was just nuts. He just had no idea what was going on, and I was so hopeless and felt so lost that when I finally, ten months later, opened up to him and told him how worthless I felt — my self-esteem was gone; I didn’t want to have sex, obviously that was part of it. But it was opening up something that I felt so much shame about that was the most valuable thing that I could have done … It was really, really challenging … But I suffered silently. And I don’t want any woman to ever do that again. You have to talk about it. You have to be open to your husband, and you’ve got to call your doctor, certainly.” — HLN, May 2012

15 Famous Women on Postpartum Depression