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Gwyneth Paltrow: ‘I Felt Like a Zombie’ with Postpartum Depression

01/04/2011 at 10:00 AM ET
Courtesy Good Housekeeping

Gwyneth Paltrow had a blissful time during daughter Apple‘s first few months of life in summer 2004. Two years later, when son Moses was born, things couldn’t have been more different. The actress found herself living a nightmare.

“I felt like a zombie. I couldn’t access my heart. I couldn’t access my emotions. I couldn’t connect,” Paltrow, now 38, says in the February issue of Good Housekeeping.

“It was terrible, it was the exact opposite of what had happened when Apple was born. With her, I was on cloud nine. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t the same. I just thought it meant I was a terrible mother and a terrible person.”

It was Paltrow’s husband, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, who first thought she might be suffering from postpartum depression.

“About four months into it, Chris came to me and said, ‘Something’s wrong. Something’s wrong,’” Paltrow recalls. “I kept saying, ‘No, no, I’m fine.’ But Chris identified it, and that sort of burst the bubble.”

Paltrow says the hardest part was acknowledging the problem.

“I thought postpartum depression meant you were sobbing every single day and incapable of looking after a child,” she explains. “But there are different shades of it and depths of it, which is why I think it’s so important for women to talk about it. It was a trying time. I felt like a failure.”

With those dark days long behind her, Paltrow has rebooted her film career – and begun a musical one – with her role in Country Strong. Her husband, supportive as ever, helped her learn guitar for the part – which came as no surprise.

“I can depend on him,” Paltrow says. “He makes me laugh. He’s really appreciative of me. You know, he makes me feel special.”

Although sometimes, she has to push him a little to talk about his feelings.

“I definitely have to coax things out of him when we talk. You know, he’s British, so it’s a different lexicon totally,” Paltrow says. “But you have to communicate. Otherwise there’s no relationship.”

– Tim Nudd

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Showing 16 comments

Lila on

I am glad more and more celebrities are coming out and talking about how hard PPD is. It’s so common, but yet still is clouded in shame. That needs to change. Thanks Gwen!

jessicad on

It amazes me how many women experience some form of PPD yet it’s still not talked about as much as it should be. Nobody prepares you for it during pregnancy either, it hit me like a ton of bricks but I was too afraid to admit it. I was already a single mother and felt so much pressure, PPD made me feel even more like a failure so I kept it to myself and worked it out on my own, finally felt normal when my daughter was around one.

I’m so happy more celebs are speaking out about it. That’s good her husband noticed and stepped in to help!

Barbra on

I suffered from PPD after my daughter was born. It took me about a year to fully gain control of my life back. I feel for Gwyneth and all the other mothers out there who have suffered with this horrible disease. We need more information on it. Doctors need to be more aware of it. Family & friends need to help when they see something is wrong.

Dee on

Some days I felt like throwing my son over the balcony…..SCARY HUH??? But, I would put him in his bassinet and walk away. Came back when I was more rational and then thought OMG WTF is wrong with me, look at his innocent little face.

I prayed a lot and had a lot of people to talk to and I overcame it, than God because it is a very dark place to be. Today I can say it but nothing prepares you for those moments when it feels like you are spiralling out of control.

More women should talk about it, its healthy to do so and can be healing to them.

Angel on

It’s always nice to have a platform to have people relate to when you are trying to boost your new career. She’s just now telling us about her PPD, four years after her son was born? She’s just NOW thinking it is important to share this information? I don’t buy it.

Dani on

Hi Angel,
She has actually spoken about this in many different venues throughout the past few years. This is far from the first time I am hearing of her struggles with PPD.

Krissy on

It really doesn’t matter when she did it and her motivation behind it….it just matters that she did! it helps people to know they are not alone and it is hard for people,especially celebreties beacuse of their careers, to come out and say things like they suffer from PPD. I have respect for her to have the courage and her husband for being her partner and stepping up and loving her and his family enough to help her through it.

Kudos to the Paltrow/Martin family..may you continue to be blessed!

Terri on

Does it matter when she chose to share? What’s important is that she chose to share it. Maybe it was a little too raw and fresh for her to talk about earlier. You don’t know what her personal situation was. She was the only one who had to live it.

Jacqui on

Dani is right. I remember GP talking publicly about her PPD at least a couple of years ago.

Liz on

Something I love about CBB is how it stands for, and supports, mothers and babies, and covers so much on both! No need for such negativity from people like Angel, as others have said, who CARES WHEN she said it, she said it, many can relate to it, and that’s what’s important. Women shooting women down is NOT what we’re here for.

fuzibuni on

i love you gwen, but why did you let them put you in that purple turtleneck?

RObert Baum on

I wonder if her admission of havong suffered post partum depression will convince Tom Cruise and his fellow genius Scientolologists that such a condition is real.

Jill on

I am so glad that the dialogue has really opened up about PPD. It seems so taboo and those of us who have went through it often feel like we are alone (myself included). If celebrities are willing to talk about it then we “regular” people should be, too. I agree – talking and relating to other women makes such a difficult subject just a tad bit easier when you know you really aren’t alone.

B.R on

I have never been pregnant so personally I do not know what this feels like. But I know my son would still have his birth family if PPD was more talked about and taken care of. See my son’s birth mother almost killed him, but before she got to him she killed his younger sister, new born brother (2days old) and her husband, all due to PPD. Hers was so bad that it cause a mental break, she truly thought that her children were aliens and her husband was going to kill her and take the kids. She didn’t want alien children and she didn’t want him to have them so she killed them, and almost killed her first born that is now my son. The doctor that let her out of the hospital is no longer a doctor but he didn’t get any jail time. See right after birth of her third child she said something is wrong, I hate that child, please help me. Her husband ask the doctor to send someone for the psychology department to check her, even the nurses were asking him to do something about it. But he didn’t he send her home, not even 48h later that family was no more. I am glad beyond any and all measure to have my son, he is everything to me, but at the same time I would do anything to be able to save him the pain that he has gone through and continues to go through ever day of his life, even if it meant giving him up. At the end I really don’t care why she chose to talk about it, I am just glad she did. There needs to be better education out there of the health professionals about PPD and ever pregnant women should be told about it, and be offered help after the birth. It doesn’t have to be meds or anything but there aren’t many support groups out there for PPD, or websites with true information and support you can go to, not many good ones that I have found. I am very glad that her husband stepped in and made sure she got help, and that she was able to move on with her life. I wish her all the best and hope that more people in her position would talk about what they experienced and where they found help

ohno on

Oh boy, what on earth did GP do to her face? She doesn’t look younger, she just looks plastic surgerized.

Noell on

Having suffered with PPD after the delivery of my daughter 7 1/2 years ago, and PP Anxiety after having my 5 yr old son, I have been through all the stages of this rollercoaster. I say rollercoaster only because that’s the best way I can describe it. Literally….unless you have suffered from it, or shared your life with someone who suffered from it, you can’t possibly understand what goes on behind closed doors. Being judgemental of this disease doesn’t make you a bad person, that just makes you uninformed.

My PPD / PPA has now been diagnosed as Clinical Depression, which I control with medication. I am finally back to feeling normal. And as horrific as it sounds to admit, I am grateful for having this experience. I appreciate people that struggle with any type of illness, I feel blessed everyday to wake up to my beautiful children and am also surrounded by family and friends. Although this experience has played a small role in the failing of my marriage, my exhusband and I still love eachother and remain good friends. We love our children to death and have kept that as our focus…not the instability of mommy’s mood swings.

To anyone who has suffered, or lives with someone who is suffereing, I commend you for your perseverence. No one should go through this alone.

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