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“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,” Witherspoon, 44, said. “I’ve been managing it my entire life.”
Her biggest mental health struggle came when she started having children.
“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,” the Little Fires Everywhere star said. “And then I had one kid where I had no postpartum at all.”
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Reese Witherspoon/Instagram Reese Witherspoon and family
As she opened up about her experience with reaching out for help, Witherspoon said she was “completely out of control” after the birth of her first child.
“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 on the Earwolf podcast. “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 said, adding that she also wasn’t able to be with her mother, who worked as a pediatric nurse for 35 years and had always been open about mental health — and at the time “there wasn’t the type of communication we have now.”
Craig Barritt/Getty Images Reese Witherspoon and daughter Ava Phillippe
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As the conversation continued, Witherspoon spoke about how important it is to take women seriously and continue to de-stigmatize mental health.
“I think hormones are so understudied and not understood,” she said. “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 added. “Postpartum is very real.”
I WEIGH with Jameela Jamil Jameela Jamil
The Big Little Lies actress has expressed admiration for The Good Place star, who has long been outspoken about empowering women, especially young girls, to love their bodies.
“I stumbled upon this interview that Jameela Jamil did with Lizzo, that singer who’s so amazing, and guys. This conversation was so great and inspiring about body positivity and I just thought I would share it with you so you could check it out!” Witherspoon raved on Instagram last year.