"I Thought There Was Something Seriously Wrong With Me": These 15 Celebs Are Fighting The Stigma Of Postpartum Anxiety And Depression
Life after having a baby is a mix of so many different emotions and feelings — everything from elation to exhaustion to just feeling completely overwhelmed. While "baby blues" (mood swings, crying spells, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping, according to Mayo Clinic) are extremely common for up to two weeks postpartum, many people experience a much more severe, long-lasting depression called postpartum depression (PPD) or experience severe anxiety called postpartum anxiety (PPA).
While postpartum depression and anxiety can, of course, happen simultaneously, they are two distinct conditions. Postpartum depression afflicts approximately a half million people every year and one in eight women experience symptoms of it. Postpartum anxiety on the other hand often goes undiagnosed or is considered just a symptom of postpartum depression, despite the fact that it's a distinct condition.
For so long, conversations about postpartum mental health have been few and far between, which has thankfully started to change in recent years. Here are 15 celebrities who have openly and candidly discussed their own personal struggles with PPD and PPA:
Content warning: This post contains mentions of substance abuse.
1.Jeannie Mai Jenkins opened up about how she wasn't "prepared" for postpartum anxiety because based on what she'd known about the postpartum experience, she thought it could only manifest as "depression," which was the opposite of how she was feeling emotionally.
It took Jeannie doing a Google search about feeling anxious after giving birth for her to fully realize that what she was experiencing was postpartum anxiety — and totally normal. "It's a huge difference from depression: I wasn't sad, I wasn't sleeping all day, I didn't feel miserable about my life, I wasn't having suicidal thoughts," she said. "I was just very anxious, very uncomfortable, and worried all the time. Now that I know what it is, I still get anxiety attacks, but I'm aware that it's just a phase."
2.After voluntarily checking into an inpatient facility to treat her postpartum depression in 2015 following the birth of her daughter, Hayden Panettiere recently opened up about the harrowing experience in an interview with E!'s The Rundown. "I wish I knew about postpartum depression. I wish I knew to look out for it," she said. "I just thought there was something seriously wrong with me, so I thought, 'Fireball will fix this—duh!' And it didn't. It does for a moment, but then it makes everything worse."
"I wish somebody told me that that was a possibility, told me it's OK if you birth your child and you're not immediately like, 'Oh my god, I love you more than anything in the entire world!,'" she said. "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.'"
3.Grey's Anatomy star Camilla Luddington detailed her experience with postpartum anxiety after her son's birth in 2020 and her initial reluctance to seek therapy. "I now look back and realize I had postpartum anxiety, which I didn't know was a thing," she told Wondermind. "I knew about postpartum depression, and I knew I didn't have that, but I had so much anxiety."
Camilla ultimately sought therapy because she didn't want to parent her kids from "a place of anxiety." She explained that since she lost her mom at a young age, she found it "super-triggering" once she had her own kids. "It can bring up constant worst-case scenario for you, where you feel like, 'Oh, I will die young because that's what happened to me.' That's what I knew. That was my reality," she said. "It was super intense, and I had never felt that way before. And so I was like, OK, I need to do this for myself. I need to gift this to myself, gift this to my family, and go seek therapy."
4.Ayesha Curry shared her experience with postpartum depression on her sister-in-law Sydel Curry Lee's podcast Because Life. She explained that she didn't even know to look out for signs of PPD because of the stigma around it from earlier generations. "It’s not anything we talked about with our moms. It was this invisible thing. They didn’t experience that? I don’t know. But it was pretty bad when I look back at it.”
Back in 2019, Ayesha explained that her PPD manifested in the form of her being depressed about her body, which led her to get a "botched boob job" that she called the "worst decision" she could have made. "It’s been a journey," she shared on Because Life. “It was the worst three years of my life. I feel like I lost three years. Life started to become blurry. When I look back on that time, I was always tired, I was always saying I was sick, I always just wasn’t much fun to be around.”
5.The Bold Type star Katie Stevens had a baby girl in February and recently detailed her experience with postpartum anxiety with a super candid set of stories on Instagram. She explained how, in her case, her anxiety "got way worse" than it was before she gave birth. "I had many nights where I was having panic attacks and sleepless nights because of it, and I’m very lucky that I have a wonderful partner, I have wonderful family and friends that really rallied around me and helped me through that," she shared on Instagram.
“I still have my down days, but everybody told me, it gets better, and there will be days that the sun shines more that’s definitely been true for me.”
6.Back in 2017 after the birth of her first daughter, Luna, Chrissy Teigen penned an essay for Glamour about her struggle with postpartum depression. In the piece, she recounted feeling extremely emotional and very short with the people in her life, and she ultimately isolated herself a lot of the time. "When I wasn’t in the studio, I never left the house. I mean, never. Not even a tiptoe outside. I’d ask people who came inside why they were wet. Was it raining? How would I know — I had every shade closed. Most days were spent on the exact same spot on the couch and rarely would I muster up the energy to make it upstairs for bed. John would sleep on the couch with me, sometimes four nights in a row. I started keeping robes and comfy clothes in the pantry so I wouldn’t have to go upstairs when John went to work. There was a lot of spontaneous crying.”
"Postpartum does not discriminate. I couldn’t control it. And that’s part of the reason it took me so long to speak up: I felt selfish, icky, and weird saying aloud that I’m struggling. Sometimes I still do," she wrote. "I’m speaking up now because I want people to know it can happen to anybody, and I don’t want people who have it to feel embarrassed or to feel alone,’ she says. “I also don’t want to pretend like I know everything about postpartum depression, because it can be different for everybody. But one thing I do know is that — for me — just merely being open about it helps."
7.Brooke Shields candidly detailed her struggle with postpartum depression in her 2005 book Down Came the Rain, and Tom Cruise infamously claimed she was "dangerous" for spreading "misinformation" — he later apologized when several doctors told him he was wrong, and while Brooke publicly accepted his apology she recently shared more information about her experience with postpartum depression in an appearance on the WTF with Marc Maronpodcast.
Brooke shared that she was "completely chemically imbalanced" after giving birth to her daughter Rowan in 2003, but resisted taking medication until her loved ones intervened. "It was so bleak," she said. "My mother-in-law called me and said I had dead eyes. I finally said OK to get everybody off my back." However, once Brooke started feeling better, she stopped taking her medication "cold turkey." This led to a terrifying situation where she was driving her car and thought she was going to crash into a wall. Her doctor guided her through it, stayed on the phone with her, and told her to immediately get back on her medication.
8.Serena Williams has spoken candidly about motherhood, and after her first daughter Olympia was born in 2018, she shared a post about her postpartum experience. "I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with," she wrote. "I like communication best. Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal."
In 2019, she elaborated on her word choice of using "emotions" in that post rather than "depression" in an interview with the Mamamia No Filterpodcast. "I felt like it was really important to talk about because a lot of people feel like the word depression is bad and just because you’re going through things, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s depression," she said. "I thought it was important to say something that a lot of people could relate to and understand."
9.Jenna Dewan had a candid conversation on the Dear Gabby podcast about her struggles with "a lot of postpartum anxiety" after having her daughter Everly in 2013, and detailed that because of both her and her then-husband Channing Tatum's busy work schedules at the time, she traveled with Everly (and a doula) when she was just six weeks old and had her with her on set constantly.
“It was, like, I just never stopped. You know, you’re up a couple times in the night and then you’re working all day. I was breastfeeding, I was pumping, I was without a partner — I mean, it was just craziness.”
10.Olivia Munn, who has been extremely open about her postpartum experience after delivering her son Malcolm in 2021, shared that she had been struggling with postpartum anxiety when she started working on Tales of the Walking Dead. "I just had my baby and wasn’t ready to go back to filming," she shared on Instagram. "Then Scott Gimple asked if I wanted to come kill some Walkers…. I was sore for a week but it was worth it."
"I had really bad postpartum anxiety and being just 4 months postpartum I doubted myself a lot, but the producers, crew, my capoeira teacher and stunt trainers were beyond wonderful. Thank You," she shared about the experience.
11.Teyana Taylor revealed that she was struggling with postpartum depression when she filmed her Sundance-winning film, A Thousand and One. "It was definitely emotional," she told Yahoo. "I was actually six months postpartum when we started working on A Thousand and One. So I was dealing with literal postpartum depression. And in the midst of dealing with postpartum depression, I lost a lot of my childhood friends. [I was] back home to film and then come to find out that a lot of [my] childhood has been erased. That was a lot, emotionally."
"And I think that's what made it so real and authentic because every single emotion was real," she continued, explaining her process filming the extremely raw film. "Every single tear was real. Every single scream was real. Every single emotion was real.”
12.Like so many people, Shay Mitchell first found out about postpartum anxiety when she was handed a questionnaire asking various questions about her mental health at her postpartum OBGYN appointment — but what she'd really wished was that she'd been given that resource during pregnancy. She realized she had actually been struggling with prepartum depression. "When I first started speaking out about it, just the influx of women telling me about their personal experiences with it too also helped me feel less alone," she told Today. "Which is the whole reason I wanted to speak out about it at the beginning, because I think I had heard so much about postpartum depression, but not so much about prepartum which is equally as important, just less talked about."
"Not only may they feel stigmatized for struggling with depression, but they may also fear being seen as a 'bad mother' who can’t take care of her child,' she continued. "In our culture, there is an unspoken expectation that mothers should naturally enjoy pregnancy. There is pressure on women to feel nothing but joy and gratitude for their new baby. However, for many mothers, it can feel unsafe to admit when their feelings are the exact opposite, leading them to avoid disclosing their symptoms."
13.Kylie Jenner opened up to Vanity Fair Italia about experiencing postpartum depression after delivering both of her children, noting that her experience the first time around was very "difficult" but the second time it was more "manageable." She shared her advice for other new parents who are struggling. "I would tell those women not to overthink things and to live all the emotions of that moment to the fullest," she said. "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," she 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."
14.Busy Philipps, like other mothers on this list, didn't realize postpartum anxiety was "a thing" after she delivered her first daughter Birdie. "I had heard only really terrible postpartum depression stories, like the ones that would make the news," she told People. "And that wasn’t my experience so I thought, well I guess this is just what being a new mom is like — being unable to go into the grocery store because you’re panicked and crying in your car.”
"It took me a long time to really be able to vocalize what I was going through and to get some help for it. I’m glad that people have been more open about all kinds of postpartum issues."
15.Finally, Reese Witherspoon shared that her experience with postpartum depression varied with each of her children. “I’ve had three kids. After each child I had a different experience," she said on Jameela Jamil's I Weighpodcast. "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.”
Reese continued, explaining why it's so important to openly have these conversations. "I kept reaching out to my doctors for answers, there just isn’t enough research about what happens to women’s bodies and the hormonal shifts that we have aren’t taken as seriously as I think they should be."
The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.