Emotional Wellbeing

Kristen Bell and Hayden Panettiere Speak Out Over Their Depression and Anxiety

I was sent reeling last week when I heard the news that my favourite country music melodrama binge watch, Nashville, had been cancelled at the end of it’s fourth season. Shattered would be an understatement.

But then came the even sadder news that star of the show, Hayden Panettiere, had announced she was again seeking inpatient treatment for postnatal depression.

It put my first world devastation over the cancellation of a TV show into a little more perspective.

Hayden announced her decision to seek treatment over Twitter last week:

“The postpartum depression I have been experiencing has impacted every aspect of my life. Rather than stay stuck due to unhealthy coping mechanisms I have chosen to take time to reflect holistically on my health and life. Wish me luck!” 

This is the second time Hayden has sought treatment for her condition since the birth of her daughter Kaya in December 2014, last checking into a treatment facility in October 2015.

The 26 year old has been very open in the media about her battle with postnatal depression, which she has ironically relived on screen with her Nashville character, Juliette Barnes, also struggling with postnatal depression on the show.

Hayden’s announcement comes just days after actress Kristen Bell, voice of Frozen’s Anna, opened up about her history of anxiety and depression. In an interview on the “Off Camera” show (below), she details her extended family history of mental illness, and also how her mother’s understanding and support, as well as her medication regime, have helped her to manage her illness over the past several years.

Watch the interview below, story continues below.

YouTube video

“I got on a prescription when I was really young to help with my anxiety and depression and I still take it today. I have no shame in that.” Kristen says of her treatment regime.

As someone who works in the mental health field, it’s so heartening to see high profile women such as Kristen and Hayden speaking publicly about their mental health challenges. Even just a decade ago it would have been highly unlikely, and potentially career destroying for an actress to be so candid regarding their illness. We’re now a long way from the days when women would be sent away and treated for their “hysteria”. But when it comes to openly and honestly discussing mental health, we still have a long way to go as a society, with mental illness still very much a taboo topic, incredibly misunderstood and frequently sensationalised in the media.

But though we don’t talk about it, we should be,
as the need is greater than ever.

One in seven women will experience postnatal depression and one in five people in general will experience depression at some point in their lives. Which means that someone you know is probably struggling with depression right now. Perhaps another mother in your mums group, maybe your neighbour, or could it actually be you?

Depression knows no bounds. Any person, of any background, income level, or educational achievement can be affected by depression or anxiety – even movie stars, rock stars or supermodels. Which is why it’s so important for women like Hayden and Kristen to speak up.

So often celebrities are put up on pedestals – presented as the epitome of what a modern day woman should be – beautiful, talented, bubbly and approachable, with flawless skin and to-die-for hair.

In an industry that values perfection over realism, it must have taken a big dose of bravery for these two epic ladies to speak up. The only upside to the these women having to face these challenges from such a public stage is that perhaps it might encourage other women to speak up or reach out for support. So for that, Hayden and Kristen, I salute you! And yes Hayden, I definitely wish you luck, along with multitudes of support and a positive outcome for you and your family.

divider-3If you’re currently concerned about your own mental health, or that of a friend or loved one, please remember to seek support as soon as possible. Approach your GP for a referral to a mental health practitioner, or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 for immediate assistance.

You can also check out Beyond Blue, Gidget Foundation and Panda for information on depression and postnatal depression.

Avatar of Sarah Hausler

Sarah Hausler is a Women's Health Occupational Therapist and owner of Bloom Wellbeing. She is passionate about helping women to live their best life and adjust to the physical and emotional demands of being a new mum.

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