Reese Witherspoon details her mental health history in a candid new interview.
On Friday’s episode of Jameela Jamil’s “I Weigh” podcast, the “Little Fires Everywhere” star opens up about her battles with anxiety and depression, which she treated with therapy beginning at age 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 “Big Little Lies” alum said. “I’ve been managing it my entire life.”
However, when the actress had children — daughter Ava, 20, and son Deacon, 16, with ex Ryan Phillippe and son Tennessee, 7, with husband Jim Toth — she suffered from various degrees of postpartum depression.
“I’ve had three kids. After each child, I had a different experience. 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 told Jamil. “And then I had one kid where I had no postpartum at all.”
After having her first child, Ava, Witherspoon began experiencing intense hormonal changes once she stopped breastfeeding.
“We don’t understand the kind of hormonal roller coaster that you go on when you stop nursing. No one explained that to me,” she 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,” she continued.
By sharing her story, Witherspoon hopes to shine a light on the hormonal imbalances that women face, a subject she believes is “so understudied and not understood.”
“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,” she said.
“I have deep compassion for women who are going through that,” she added. “Postpartum is very real.”
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), up to 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression.