Celebrity Moms Talk About Overcoming Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression, or PPD, affects up to 1 in 9 women nationally, and up to 1 in 5 women in some states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC points out that symptoms vary, but can include crying more often than usual, feelings of anger, withdrawing from loved ones, feeling numb or disconnected from your baby, worrying that you will hurt the baby, or feeling guilty about not being a good mom or doubting your ability to care for the baby.
Given how challenging and dark it can be, it's heartening to know more people who have battled the illness are speaking out about their experiences and, in turn, reducing stigma. Here, words of wisdom from 10 celebrity moms who've overcome PPD.
1. Chrissy Teigen
Eight months giving birth to her first L.O., Luna, the model, TV personality, and Cravings author was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety. She opened up about her battle in a 2017 Glamour essay. "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," she wrote. "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."
Later on, in an interview with Refinery29, Teigen shared, "When I was in the midst of everything, I could never imagine myself on the other side of it. Now, I’m able to look at September, October, November, December, and shake my head at how dark and crazy of a period it was. Unfortunately, you can only really do that when you’re out of it. There’s no other way to explain it. And there’s no better feeling than being out of it." She admitted, "Of course, you have your good and bad days. I just had a bad day a couple days ago. But the bad days do not outweigh the good days anymore. Just when you think it’s really, really bad, it’s going to get better."
2. Cardi B
After giving birth to her daughter Kulture in 2018, Cardi B was told by her doctors about PPD. She explained in an interview with Harper's Bazaar, "I thought I was going to avoid it ... I was like, 'Well, I'm doing good right now, I don't think that's going to happen.' But out of nowhere, the world was heavy on my shoulders.”
In part because of her PPD, the rapper and Hustlers star dropped out of touring with Bruno Mars. She reportedly began to feel better a few months later, giving her mom credit for supporting her recovery.
3. Brooke Shields
In 2009, the Jane the Virgin star and author of in Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression told People magazine, "I finally had a healthy beautiful baby girl and I couldn't look at her. I couldn't hold her and I couldn't sing to her and I couldn't smile at her ... All I wanted to do was disappear and die. ... If I had been diagnosed with any other disease, I would have run to get help. I would have worn it like a badge ... I didn't at first—but finally I did fight. I survived."
After giving birth to her son Angelo in 2012, the Grammy-winning singer suffered from PPD, explaining to Vanity Fair in 2016, "I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son, and it frightened me," she said. "I didn't talk to anyone about it. I was very reluctant." She explained that ultimately, confiding in a friend made a difference. "One day I said to a friend, 'I f-ckin' hate this' and she just burst into tears and said, 'I f-ckin' hate this, too,'" she shared. "And it was done. It lifted. 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. But I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate; I felt like I'd made the worst decision of my life."
She continued, "It can come in many different forms. Eventually I just said, I'm going to give myself an afternoon a week, just to do whatever the f-ck I want without my baby. A friend of mine said, 'Really? Don't you feel bad?' I said, I do, but not as bad as I'd feel if I didn't do it. Four of my friends felt the same way I did, and everyone was too embarrassed to talk about it; they thought everyone would think they were a bad mom, and it's not the case. It makes you a better mom if you give yourself a better time."
5. Serena Williams
The star athlete suffered PPD after welcoming her daughter Alexis Olympia in 2017, and in 2018, told Harper's Bazaar UK, "Sometimes I still think I have to deal with it. I think people have to talk about it more, because it’s almost like the fourth trimester, it’s part of the pregnancy. I remember one day, I couldn't find Olympia’s bottle and I got so upset I started crying ... because I wanted to be perfect for her."
6. Tess Holliday
The model and author gave birth to her youngest son, Bowie Juniper, in June 2016. Fast-forward to March 2018, when she shared with her followers that she had "been very open with how hard it’s been. From dealing with extreme PPD, to at times feeling really isolated and overwhelmed. My boys are 10 years apart and that comes with its own set of problems, but I’ve found support through other women." Two months later, she shared a selfie taken a year prior, alongside a caption that detailed her struggle: "Up until about a month ago, everyday since this photo was taken I thought in my head: 'I wish I could just vanish...' I’ve never had suicidal thoughts, or self harm, but the thoughts of just wanting to stop hurting and feeling helpless were new and frankly overwhelming. I’ve been open about my struggles with postpartum depression, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized I had extreme PPD."
Holliday went on to urge moms to "take time to care for YOU. Don’t let it get to the point mine did where you feel like you’re losing your mind. Don’t think because your child isn’t a 'baby' that you couldn’t still be suffering from PPD, because I’m here to tell you, you most definitely can. Ask for help, talk to someone, find a support group or hell, message me. You aren’t alone & you don’t need to suffer alone."
7. Bryce Dallas Howard
The Help star shared in 2010 that she struggled with PPD after delivering her son Theodore Norman. She described the experience in a Goop newsletter: "Nothing. I felt nothing ... I couldn't genuinely cry, or laugh, or be moved by anything. For the sake of those around me, including my son, I pretended."
Looking back, she reflected, "Do I wish I had never endured postpartum depression? Absolutely. But to deny the experience is to deny who I am. I still mourn the loss of what could have been, but I also feel deep gratitude for those who stood by me, for the lesson that we must never be afraid to ask for help, and for the feeling of summer that still remains."
8. Hayden Panettiere
Ten months after the Nashville star gave birth to her daughter Kaya in December 2014, she entered a treatment center to cope with her PPD. She also received treatment in mid-2016. Of her experience, Panettiere told Good Morning America, "I think it helped me identify what was going on. And to let women know that it’s OK to have a moment of weakness. [Having PPD] doesn’t make you a bad person—doesn’t make you a bad mother. It makes you a very strong, resilient woman. You’ve just got to let it make you stronger."
9. Gwyneth Paltrow
After giving birth to her second child, Moses, in 2006, the Goop founder battled PPD. She shared on a 2018 Goop podcast that her doctor wanted to put her on antidepressants. "And I thought, if I need them, then yes, I'll come back to it, but I wanna first try and see—because, of course, I had done some research on them and I think they are lifesavers for certain people, for sure—but I thought, well, what if I went to therapy and I started exercising again, and I stopped drinking alcohol and I just gave myself, like, a period of regeneration and I slept more?" she noted. "And it really broke me out of it."
Paltrow concluded, "I think it was just all those little threads from my life that came together and made it really clear to me that it's OK to try to turn inward, listen inward, and put faith that the body knows how to heal itself if you are willing to sit with what's there. And sometimes it's really dark and scary and painful. [But] I came to understand that if you delve into it, that's how you move through it."
10. Alanis Morissette
The singer-songwriter told Oprah's network OWN in 2015, "I've wanted to be a mom since as far back as I can remember. And it was coupled with my wondering if I could handle it." Morissette welcomed her son Ever in 2010 and ended up fighting PPD. "I just felt like I woke up underwater every day and that tar was being poured all over me, and I just didn't want to be alive," she explained. "I didn't want to be here."
Going on to face PPD with her next two children Onyx and Winter, she reflected on the recurring experience in an October 2019 personal essay on her website, writing, "I have been here before. I know there is another side. And the other side is greater than my PPD-riddled-temporarily-adjusted-brain could have ever imagined: as a mom, as an artist, as a wife, as a friend, as a collaborator, as a leader, as a boss, as an activist. ... I saw how things got richer after I came through it the last two times ... I knew better so I set it up to win as much as I could beforehand. Support. Food. Friends. Sun. Bio-identical hormones and SSRIs at the ready … but for all this preparation, PPD is still a sneaky monkey with a machete—working its way through my psyche and body and days and thoughts and bloodwork levels."
She concluded, "Wouldn't it be cool if we treated all postpartum moms and families with this awareness and honor. Even if the treadmill of the quickening of our culture didn’t change pace that there might be a life raft of empathy toward the feminine life-givers who bear it all and give more than words can even begin to touch on ... We’re not alone."