Hayden Panettiere is taking a medical leave of absence from filming the ABC drama Nashville as she seeks treatment for Postpartum depression (PPD). Panettiere, 26, recently gave birth to her daughter and has been struggling with symptoms of PPD, which she encourages women everywhere in a recent interview on Live with Kelly and Michael to find support if they too are struggling with the wide variety of symptoms that women and men can experience:
“There’s a lot of misunderstanding — there’s 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, that ‘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.”
Panettiere is not the first celebrity to come forward about her struggle with PPD; Brooke Shields came forward with her struggle with depression after giving birth in 2005. Shields wrote about her experiences in her book, Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression, and received criticism, most notably, from celebrity Tom Cruise for her choice to use anti-depressants in her treatment. Cruise has since apologized for his comments to Shields, but the lack of understanding that came from Cruise remains today. New mothers are beginning to have an open dialogue and vehicle for their issues with mental health with the aid of online forums and social media websites aimed to encourage women, and yet, misunderstanding about PPD and the shame that some women feel continue to be prevalent. Panettiere hopes to encourage women to understand how varied experiences with PPD can be for women, and to seek support if needed:
“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.”
Taking time away from Nashville, where Panettiere was nominated for an Golden Globe Award twice for Best Supporting Actress is a respectable decision; Panettiere is potentially jeopardizing her business relationships and reputation by taking time away from filming to focus on her health. Optimistically, there will be no criticism for her treatment, because her health and her family’s health is what is ultimately important. Her decision to take time off should be admired, as her experiences living as a celebrity produce a different stress that an average person will not face; this, coupled with hormonal changes from giving birth, to possible sleep deprivation, make it so her diagnosis of PPD is not a substantial shock to most people. Celebrities are often mentally exhausted from the stress of constant scrutiny from the public over their physical appearance, as well as their behavior. Constant analysis over everything celebrities do and say, combined with lack of privacy from the media and photographers, one could say could be an environment conducive to mental health problems. Hopefully, privacy from the media will be granted to Panettiere and her family, and she will obtain the supports needed for her eventual return to Nashville, if it is her desire to continue her involvement with the series.