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Hayden Panettiere Opens Up About Postpartum Depression: It’s ‘Debilitating, Scary’

Four months after she checked into a treatment center for postpartum depression, Hayden Panettiere is back in Nashville and feeling stronger and more confident than ever. But now that strength comes from a place of vulnerability, from letting the world see who she really is, imperfections and all.

Related: PHOTOS: Hayden Panettiere's Best Bikini Moments

“I was always so terrified that people weren’t going to accept me,” she told Yahoo! Style in an interview published on Monday, March 7. “I finally just went, I’m tired of living afraid. I’m tired of living in fear of what people are going to think, so, you know, I’m just going to put it all out there on the table and I’m not going to worry about the judgment.”

Hayden Panettiere
Hayden Panettiere attends Time Warner Cable Studios and Revolt Bring the Music Revolution event in 2014.

As previously reported, the actress, 26, voluntarily sought help in October 2015, a little less than a year after she welcomed daughter Kaya, her first child with fiancé Wladimir Klitschko. In the aftermath, she received an outpouring of well wishes from friends, fans and fellow new mothers.

Related: PHOTOS: 2015's Babies of the Year

“The more open I was, the more acceptance I got from people,” she shared. “I got so much support and so much love. I was floored. I feel much more exposed, yes, but in a great way.”

Of course, as is typical online, not everyone was sympathetic to her experience. To those people, Panettiere had this to say: “If you think for one second that a mother wants to feel that way toward her child, you’re outta your mind. It is one of the most debilitating, scary, guilty feelings that you can ever feel. That a mother would not be able to connect with their child, would not be able to get a grip, or would not know what’s going on, for anybody to say that it’s false or created by us, you must have your head examined.”

Related: PHOTOS: Stars Who've Battled Mental Health Issues

Incidentally, the actress’ character on ABC’s Nashville, Juliette Barnes, has also been battling postpartum depression this season. And while Panettiere admits it’s “strange” having to get back into that frame of mind, she’s been able to draw on her real-life journey for the role.

“It’s definitely interesting how much it has mirrored my life,” she said. “The way I do things is to pull from my own personal experience and sometimes even turn myself into what I’m portraying so that I can pull from my life and step into that person’s shoes by being able to relate.”

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