Reese Witherspoon Opens Up About Struggle With Postpartum Depression

“Postpartum is very real.”
ByNehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
Apr 2020
actress reese witherspoon opens up about her struggles with postpartum depression
Photo: Shutterstock

Many moms experience postpartum depression, and in recent years, to normalize the topic, more and more women have been speaking out about their experiences—including celebrities. Reese Witherspoon is adding her name to the list, as she candidly spoke about her postpartum experiences in a recent interview with fellow actress Jameela Jamil.

On Jamil’s podcast, I Weigh, Witherspoon, 44, spoke about how she’s been dealing with depression and anxiety pretty much all her life and began therapy when she was 16.

“I definitely had anxiety, my anxiety manifests as depression so I would get really depressed. My brain is like a hamster on a wheel and it won’t come off,” the mother of three, said in the interview. “I’ve been managing it my entire life.”

The Little Fires Everywhere star then explained that her mental health struggles increased the most when she began to have kids—and her postpartum experience was different with each. “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,” she said. “And then I had one kid where I had no postpartum at all.”

Witherspoon has two kids with ex Ryan Phillipe, daughter Ava, 20, and son, Deacon, 16, as well as a son Tennessee, 7, with husband Jim Toth. She explained that she was “completely out of control” after giving birth to her first kid.

“We don’t understand the kind of hormonal roller coaster that you go on when you stop nursing. No one explained that to me,” Witherspoon said. “I was 23 years old when I had my first baby and nobody explained to me that when you wean a baby, your hormones go into the toilet. I felt more depressed than I’d ever felt in my whole life. It was scary…I didn’t have the right kind of guidance or help, I just white-knuckled back.”

Witherspoon explained that her mother, who worked as a pediatric nurse for over three decades and has always been open about topics concerning mental health, was working in a different state and wasn’t able to be with her during her postpartum period. She didn’t have, at the time, “the type of communication we have now.”

She and Jamil, who has been a longtime advocate for women empowerment, discussed how topics of mental health need to be completely be-stigmatized and women need to be taken more seriously.

According to the actress, hormones are understudied and not as understood as they need to be. “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. I have deep compassion for women who are going through that,” she said. “Postpartum is very real.”

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