Hayden Panettiere Says She Was "Gaslit" About Postpartum Depression
The former child star is making a comeback after battling alcoholism and mental health issues.
Even though it affects many people who give birth, postpartum depression (PPD) is still something that is very misunderstood. This is something that actor Hayden Panettiere knows firsthand. After welcoming her daughter, Kaya, in 2014 with ex-partner Wladimir Klitschko, the Nashville star began suffering from postpartum depression, but because she also struggled with alcohol use disorder, she says that her mental health issues weren't taken seriously. Panettiere explained in an interview that she felt "gaslit" when it came to her postpartum depression.
Now, thankfully, the star is in recovery from her issues, which included opiate abuse. Read on to see what the Panettiere has shared about her experience and the advice she has for other women going through PPD.
Panettiere self-medicated with alcohol.
Panettiere suffered from alcoholism prior to welcoming Kaya.
"I think it was just my social anxiety that really, really got me, and I saw other people around me who self-medicate through things like that with alcohol," she told People in July 2022. "And so you try it and it works, you think it works, and then it gets out of hand and out of control, but that's a habit that formed for me. As I got older, it became something that I almost couldn't live without."
She also began taking opiates when an old neck injury started to bother her again following the birth of her daughter. "I was in a lot of pain," Panettiere told Women's Health in a March 2023 interview. "My tolerance got so high so fast that it became a problem."
It became hard to tell where her PPD and substance use disorder overlapped.
"I didn't know where the alcoholism was ending and the postpartum was beginning," Panetierre told Good Morning America in July 2022. "And I ran myself pretty ragged."
She explained, "I didn't have any negative feelings towards my child. I just knew I was deeply depressed." The actor added that she "was in this haze, this haze that just wasn't [her]."
According to Mayo Clinic, postpartum depression is distinct from "baby blues," which many new parents experience after giving birth and which lasts only a couple of days to a couple of weeks. With PPD, "the symptoms are more intense and last longer. These may eventually interfere with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks," as explained by the clinic.
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Panettiere felt she was "gaslit" because of her alcoholism.
"People around me were more concerned about my usage of alcohol than they ever were about the postpartum depression," she told Good Morning America, adding that people thought she was "being a crazy woman."
She continued, "Once you're the identified patient as the alcoholic—and not as a girl, a woman going through postpartum depression—then they don't believe anything that comes outta your mouth. So even when you're telling the truth, even when you're doing well, I've been told 'No'—almost gaslit—and told no, I wasn't … It's frustrating. It's heartbreaking. You wanna break down and cry, which makes you look even worse. But not being believed, I think to anybody not being believed is—when they're telling the truth—is painful."
She thinks she should have taken antidepressants.
In her new Women's Health interview, Panettiere explained that, looking back, she should have been medicated for her mental health. "I should have gone on antidepressants [to cope with the postpartum depression], but you have to find the right one that works for you," she said. "They don't mix well with alcohol, and I wasn't ready to stop drinking."
She entered rehab in 2015, and in 2021, she sought treatment again.
"I did a lot of work on myself," the Heroes star said. "After eight months of intensive therapy, I felt like I had this blank canvas to work with." Now, Panettiere is getting back to work as an actor. After taking time off following the conclusion of Nashville in 2018, she is starring in the upcoming Scream VI, reprising her role from the fourth movie in the franchise.
She shared a message with others who have PPD.
Panettiere urged those who are suffered from PPD to seek help from someone who actually believes and listens to them.
"So many women have been in our positions," Panettiere told GMA. "And if the people around you don't believe you, find somebody who does. Find somebody who can help. Go on a journey of exploration and do whatever you have to do to get yourself better, to understand what's going on inside your heart, your mind, your body."
She also told Women's Health that she's "looking forward to the day where [she] get[s] to have these conversations with [her daughter]." The actor continued, "I'm grateful that I'm equipped with the information and with the experience that I've had with postpartum depression."