Hayden Panettiere just opened up in an important way about postpartum depression

Hayden Panettiere has been very vocal about postpartum depression (PPD), and we absolutely love her for it. Back in September, she spoke about her own struggles in relation to her Nashville character, Juliette. “[PPD] is something that I can very much relate to, and something that I know a lot of women experience,” Hayden, who in December 2014 gave birth to her daughter, Kaya, told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s something, I think, that needs to be talked about, and women need to know that they’re not alone.”

Now, she’s again doing her best to ensure that women know they absolutely aren’t alone. At the Critics’ Choice Awards, Hayden shared her experiences with PPD on the red carpet to both People and E!, and it’s so, so important.

Even though she’s been famous for most of her life, walking the red carpet feels like a new experience for her after going through treatment for her depression. “It feels different for me because of things that I’ve gone through recently, over the last year,” she told People. “I’ve really gone, ‘You know what, I’ve been in this industry for so long, forget it!’ I’ve been hiding myself. Just putting out the smiling face, showing people this, and allowing that veil to come down — it’s like a weight off my shoulders.”

For a long time, Hayden had been concealing her PPD for fear of being judged.

“I’ve been doing this for so long and I feel like I have been hiding who I was really am and was just afraid, terrified that someone was going to judge, someone wasn’t going to like something that I said, something that I wore, something I did,” she explained to E!.

But she’s gone public with her struggles, and it’s genuinely improved her life, she told E!. “I do feel and hope it’s made other people’s lives better and more of an understanding because postpartum depression was not something that I ever understood. You could never understand it unless you have a personal involvement with it.”

Now, Hayden is unafraid of judgment. “I’m 26 years old. I’m a mom. I don’t need to be afraid of what people are going to think. I saw how much people rallied behind me when I was honest, and I didn’t know that honesty could be such a gift,” she told People.

And, as she explained to E!, her openness is for her Kaya’s benefit, as well:

Thanks, Hayden, for opening up about such an important issue and helping other moms who may be going through the incredible struggle of PPD. Watch Hayden discuss the stigma surrounding mental illness and PPD below.

(Image via Disney–ABC Domestic Television.)

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