"Nashville" actress Hayden Panettiere checked into a treatment center for her postpartum depression, bringing the illness back into headlines. The Post's On Parenting editor Amy Joyce explains why this will help combat the stigma mothers face when seeking treatment. (Nicki DeMarco/The Washington Post)

Hayden Panettiere has decided to check herself into a treatment center for postpartum depression, People magazine reports; her rep confirmed the news. Panettiere, engaged to professional boxer Wladimir Klitschko, gave birth to their daughter Kaya in March.

It’s also a strange blurring of the lines for viewers who watch Panettiere, 26, on ABC’s “Nashville” musical drama every week.  Panettiere’s real-life pregnancy was written into the show last season, as her character —megastar country singer Juliette Barnes — had a baby. Now, Juliette is embroiled in a raw, upsetting storyline about struggling with postpartum depression. The plot was a major theme of the end of Season 3. It has carried on to Season 4, as Juliette is on a complete downward spiral refusing to get help and has abandoned her husband and newborn baby girl.

[Hayden Panettiere engaged to Wladimir Klitschko]

When the storyline started, some applauded the series for bringing the stigmatized topic out in the open. Panettiere said as much and also talked openly about her own battle: “I suffered a bit of postpartum depression. You’re not alone or crazy, ladies!” she wrote this past fall for an Us Weekly “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me” list.

Panettiere also got a lot of attention for her remarks on “Live! With Kelly and Michael” last month, when Kelly Ripa brought up Juliette’s postpartum depression struggles.

“She went through that, which was something that I can very much relate to and something that I know a lot of women experience,” Panettiere confirmed. “When they tell you about postpartum depression you think about, ‘Okay, I feel negative feelings towards my child. I want to injure my child, I want to hurt my child.’

“I’ve never, ever had those feelings,” she continued. “And some women do. But you don’t realize what broad of a spectrum you can really experience that on. And it’s something I think  that needs to be talked about. And women need to know that they’re not alone, and that it does, you know, heal.”

Panettiere agreed with Ripa that there’s still shame attached for women to admit they suffer from the disorder. “There’s a lot of misunderstanding, and there’s a lot of people out there that think that it’s not real, that it’s not true, that it’s something that’s made up in their minds, you know, it’s hormones,” Panettiere said. “They brush it off. It’s something that’s completely uncontrollable. And it’s really painful, and it’s really scary, and women need a lot of support.”


Actress Hayden Panettiere arrives at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)