Local News

Brooke Shields raises awareness of postpartum depression

Posted October 24, 2018 5:18 p.m. EDT
Updated October 25, 2018 11:56 a.m. EDT

— Those who grew up in the 1980s might remember Brooke Shields as a child actress and model. But she is also a champion for people struggling with mental illness.

Shields worked the room like the movie star she is Tuesday at the Foundation of Hope’s Evening of Hope at the Angus Barn. She came for a more personal reason.

In 2003, after the birth of her first daughter, Shields was diagnosed with postpartum depression.

“I was considering and trying to find ways to escape my life,” Shields said.

“I couldn't believe that I had been so devastated by it, and I was made to feel horrible about being weak,” she continued.

She said she wants others to know mental illness is not about being weak.

“There was a real physiological change in my biology that affected my brain chemistry,” she said.

The Foundation of Hope charity funds research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s psychiatry department.

One in 5 Americans struggle with mental illness; that's 44 million people nationally and 2 million in North Carolina alone.

“This is something that's really important to me because that was one of the biggest problems that I really encountered, was lack of information,” Shields said.

Medication and therapy helped her, she said.

She wrote a book about her struggles, “Down Came the Rain.”

Shields believes talking about mental illness will help erase the stigma, she said.

“I was forced to suffer silently, which is what a majority of people do,” she said. “That's where the real human tragedy comes from.”