Reese Witherspoon remembers 'severe postpartum' following childbirth

Erin Jensen

Reese Witherspoon would like people to know that "postpartum is very real."

The actress/producer talked openly about her mental health challenges as a guest on "I Weigh with Jameela Jamil," in an episode released Thursday. 

She says her mood varied after the birth of each one of her kids. She has two children – Ava, 20, and Deacon, 16 – from her relationship with actor Ryan Phillippe. She and talent agent Jim Toth, who she wed in 2011, share Tennessee, 7.

“One kid I had kind of mild postpartum, and then (with) one kid, I had severe postpartum, where I had to take pretty heavy medication, because I just wasn’t thinking straight at all," Witherspoon, 44, remembered. "And, then I had one kid, where I had no, no postpartum at all.

"Who knows?" she continued, adding she believes "hormones are so understudied and not understood."

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Witherspoon also recalled the "kind of hormonal roller coaster" she experienced when she stopped breastfeeding. "I was 23 years old when I had my first baby, and no one explained to me that, when you wean a baby, your hormones go into the toilet," she said. "I felt more depressed than I’d ever felt in my whole life. And, it was scary."

Witherspoon estimated that she entered therapy when she was around 16. 

"My anxiety manifests as depression," she said of her struggle. "So, I would get really depressed.

"It's like my brain is like a hamster on a wheel, and it won’t come off," she added. "And I’ve been managing it my entire life.”

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She opened up about her anxiety to the Los Angeles Times in 2011, explaining, "I get nervous, and I shake.” She remembered the idea of filming with an elephant for the film "Water for Elephants" kept her up. 

“I didn’t sleep, and I literally shook and shook and shook,” she said of the night prior to shooting. “But the performances with the elephant were really magical for me. Against my better instincts I decided to ride the elephant with no harness, with no safety equipment. It was pretty great.”

As Marie Claire's March 2018 cover star, she shared with the publication how she gets a handle on her fear.

“I see (fear) as this little creature that lives in my life all the time, and I can either pay it attention and not get anything done or I can march ahead and ignore it," she said. "Sometimes that’s not a good thing, and sometimes it is, but sometimes I just have to jump two feet into a cold pool and go, OK, I believe in myself enough. I know I work hard. I know I can always bet on myself."

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