Hayden Panettiere attends the 21st Annual Critics' Choice Awards. Credit: Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Porsche

Hayden Panettiere most likely knew there would be judgment when she announced on Thursday that she is seeking treatment again for her ongoing battle with postpartum depression a year and a half after the birth of her daughter Kaya. As the Nashville actress, 26, revealed during an interview on Live with Kelly and Michael in September: “There’s a lot of misunderstanding and I feel like there’s a lot of people out there who think it’s not true, that it’s something made up.” But postpartum is a very real and often debilitating condition, which affects 1 in 8 women, according to Dr. Diane Sanford, author of Life Will Never Be the Same: The Real Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide. Dr. Sanford and Karen Kleiman — director and founder of The Postpartum Stress Center in Rosemont, Pennsylvania — explain the disorder to Us Weekly.

What it Feels Like “Postpartum depression is the presence of a clinical depression that occurs during the first year after the baby’s birth,” explains Kleiman, who penned This Isn’t What I Expected. “Symptoms can include feeling sad, weepy, anxious, hopeless, angry, inadequate, guilty, suicidal, unable to sleep, unable to eat, with scary intrusive thoughts about harm coming to the baby.”

Some Moms Are More at Risk Than Others A woman with a personal or family history of depression is more vulnerable, according to Dr. Sanford, who adds that depression during pregnancy and fertility issues have also been linked to postpartum. She also notes that women who experienced fertility issues, as well as single parents, may have trouble after they welcome their child. 

Postpartum is NOT the Baby Blues “The baby blues is time-limited and hormonally-driven and eases in the first two to four weeks,” explains Dr. Sanford. “Postpartum gets worse over time and symptoms increase in frequency and severity. If you don’t fully recover from it, you’re more at risk for subsequent episodes of anxiety and depression.” 

Postpartum IS Treatable The key is identifying the condition early. “The longer a woman waits to get help, the harder her symptoms can be to treat and the longer it might take for her to recover,” Kleiman tells Us. However, “some women try to return to a previous level of functioning too soon, which can put them at risk for relapse.”

Panettiere and her fiancé Wladimir Klitschko welcomed baby Kaya in December 2014. The Heroes alum checked into a rehab facility in October 2015. 

According to sources, Panettiere is seeking treatment in Utah. 

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