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Gwyneth Paltrow & Bryce Dallas Howard Describe Postpartum Depression

First Posted: 07/22/10 10:36 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 06:10 PM ET

Gwyneth Paltrow Postpartum

Gwyneth Paltrow's latest GOOP discusses postpartum depression, which Gwyneth believes she suffered after the birth of her second child. The newsletter also includes Bryce Dallas Howard's detailed and harrowing account of her experience with postpartum depression.

Gwyneth writes:

When my son, Moses, came into the world in 2006, I expected to have another period of euphoria following his birth, much the way I had when my daughter was born two years earlier. Instead I was confronted with one of the darkest and most painfully debilitating chapters of my life. For about five months I had, what I can see in hindsight as postnatal depression, and since that time, I have wanted to know more about it.

Bryce Dallas Howard found at she was pregnant just five days after her wedding in 2006, when she was only 25, and gained more than 80 pounds during her pregnancy. After giving birth she called her son "it" even though he was named Theo, convinced herself she was a terrible actress and mother and struggled to breast-feed:

For me, breast-feeding was even more painful than giving birth. And despite a lactation consultant offering help, I felt incompetent. I refused to give up, forcing myself to do everything possible so that my son would consume only my breast milk with no supplementation. I forged on, barely sleeping, always either breast feeding or pumping and never getting the hang of it. Occasionally I drifted off for a few minutes, but that decision to "feed at all costs" left me no room for recovery, no space to explore my feelings, no time to rest.

Bryce writes about secret daily crying jags, an inability to get downstairs to eat and lashing out at her loved ones:

My husband began shooting a television series, and late evenings when he returned home, I would meet him at the door, shaking with fury, "I've hit the wall and gone through it, and I feel I am expected to go further." He would ask what he could do to help, but knowing there was nothing he could do, I screamed expletives at him, behavior he had never experienced in the seven years we had been together.

With the help of her husband, family and friends, Bryce started seeing a therapist and finally experienced a "critical shift" when shooting a movie in which she played a woman with insane delusions.

Gwyneth told Vogue in 2008 that she was never diagnosed with postpartum depression while she was suffering, and she attributed her depression in part to cutting out her usual treatments such as acupuncture.

"I didn't know I had it until after it was over," she said. "I just didn't know what was wrong with me...I felt really out of my body. I felt really disconnected. I felt really down; I felt pessimistic."

Gwyneth has also said that losing the baby weight she gained while pregnant with Moses was "by far the hardest thing I have ever done."

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Filed by Katy Hall  |