Sharing her journey. In a rare new interview, Hayden Panettiere got candid about her health ups and downs over the years.
The Scream VI star, 33, opened up to Women’s Health about everything from her addiction struggles to dealing with postpartum depression in an article published on Monday, March 6. (The interview took place in January, a month before the death of her younger brother, Jansen Panettiere, on February 19.)
Upon moving to Nashville at the age of 22, Hayden said that drinking became her “coping mechanism” to deal with the stress of fame. “I was being told how to be and how to live by so many people,” she shared. “I wanted certain decisions to be my own, and nobody could stop me. What I put in my body was like an act of defiance.”
However, things got worse for the Heroes alum after she gave birth to her and ex-fiancé Wladimir Klitschko‘s daughter, Kaya, in 2014. Noting that an old neck injury was causing her “a lot of pain,” she began taking opioids in addition to drinking, all while dealing with postpartum depression. Around that time, her Nashville character, Juliette Barnes, was also battling postpartum depression on the show.
“I should have gone on antidepressants [to cope with the postpartum depression], but you have to find the right one that works for you,” Hayden — who called it quits with Klitschko, 46, after nine years together in 2018 — explained. “They don’t mix well with alcohol, and I wasn’t ready to stop drinking.”
It wasn’t until she took a break from the entertainment industry in 2016 that she said she decided to do “a lot of work on myself.” She returned to rehab in 2021 and enrolled in a 12-step program to help with her postpartum depression and addiction, and even underwent trauma therapy. A year after the Remember the Titans star began dating her ex-boyfriend Brian Hickerson in 2018, he was arrested and charged with domestic violence.
The case was later dismissed in September 2019, but Hickerson, 32, was arrested again in February 2020 for allegedly punching Hayden in the face. He pleaded not guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in county jail and four years probation in April 2021. The two split in June 2020, though were spotted together several times in the years following.
As a part of her recovery journey, she got a breast reduction in November 2022. “My body still didn’t feel like it belonged to me,” the Bring It On: All or Nothing star said of the decision. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with somebody who wants to tweak something if it makes them feel more confident. That’s all I have to say about it. My confidence is back.”
Now, Hayden’s doing much better, telling Women’s Health, “A big part of my therapy has been living in forgiveness,” adding, “A step in the 12-step program is making amends. If somebody wants to be a good person and to be the best version of themselves, they can choose to do that.”
This isn’t the first time Hayden has publicly opened up about her personal struggles. In a 2017 interview with Good Morning America, she said that her battle with postpartum depression helped her become a better parent.
“It takes you a while. You feel off. You don’t feel like yourself,” the Ice Princess star told GMA host Lara Spencer at the time. “But, you know, women are so resilient, and that’s the incredible thing about them. I think I’m all the stronger for it. I think I’m a better mom because of it. Because you never take that connection for granted.”
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