After giving birth to her son Moses in 2006 Gwyneth Paltrow says she went “into a dark place.”
But after a doctor suggested the actress try anti-depressants, Paltrow said on her Goop podcast this week that she preferred trying other treatments and life-style changes first — going to therapy, exercising more and cutting out alcohol.
In explaining her decision to eschew medication, Paltrow tried to not denigrate anti-depressants, calling them “lifesavers for certain people, for sure.”
“I had postnatal depression, as you know, after my son,” the Oscar-winning actress said on the podcast. “A doctor tried to put me on antidepressants and I thought, ‘If I need them, then yes, I’ll come back to it.’”
But at the same time, in the podcast conversation with Goop’s chief content officer Elise Loehnen, Paltrow expressed the view that her choice wasn’t an easy one to make.
To pursue the non-pharmaceutical option, Paltrow said she had to put in “hard work” that might not have been required of her if she just took “a pill,” as Loehnen suggested.
Still, Paltrow made sure to acknowledge the potential benefits of a medication that’s widely prescribed to treat a serious mental illness. In this way, she was perhaps anticipating further criticism. Over the past year, Paltrow and her Goop lifestyle website have faced growing scrutiny — and recently settled a lawsuit with California state regulators — for touting alternative therapies and products without requisite expertise and scientific evidence.
Earlier this month, 10 California counties announced they had settled a lawsuit with Goop over its line of $66 vaginal eggs. Goop had claimed that the egg-shaped jade stones, inserted vaginally for varying lengths of time, could balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, prevent uterine prolapse, and increase bladder control.
The 10 counties involved in the suit are part of the state’s Food Drug and Medical Device Task Force.
“We will vigilantly protect consumers against companies that promise health benefits without the support of good science…or any science,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley lauded the task force’s work and added that “false claims that assure consumers of specific health outcomes can put the public at risk.”
In July, the New York Times Magazine published a damning profile of Paltrow that revealed how she has come to appreciate the controversy that comes from medical professionals criticizing her company’s health claims and products. The Times profile said Paltrow has learned how to “corral the vitriol of the internet” and turn it into greater brand awareness and, of course, cash and power.
“I can monetize those eyeballs,” Paltrow was quoted as saying while speaking to a class at Harvard Business School.
In her podcast, coming as Paltrow celebrates the 10th anniversary of Goop, the actress briefly addressed the criticism she and her company face. She said she never gets “comfortable” with the criticism but is fine with it because she believes Goop is “really clear” about its mission and “what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”
The mission is to challenge “the status quo” and to “question long-held beliefs,” Paltrow said. In previous interviews, she said Goop has never seen itself as dispensing advice. Instead, the company seeks to encourage “a conversation” about health and wellness and curiosity about products and practices outside mainstream Western medicine.
In her own case with her postpartum depression, Paltrow said on her podcast that she wanted to question the belief that her only chance for relief would come from taking a pill.
“I’m so glad that that this tried and trued thing is here in case I I need it,” Paltrow said “(But) I believe in the power of human body to heal itself,”
She added that she never expected to suffer from postpartum depression, noting that she was “euphoric” after the birth of her first child, daughter Apple, in 2004.
“I assumed it would happen with Mosey and it just — it took a while,” Paltrow said on her podcast. “I really went into a dark place.”
Paltrow said her ex-husband, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, noticed the darkness of her mood and suggested she get help.
After saying she did “some research,” Paltrow said she wanted to try other therapies first. She said she “really broke out of it” after coming up with a list of life-style changes that might help.
“What if I went to therapy and I started exercising again, and I stopped drinking alcohol and I just gave myself a period of regeneration and I slept more?” Paltrow said.
But Paltrow explained on her podcast how her “regeneration” also involved a lot of difficult, painful work.
“If you’re harboring painful, unresolved things from the past, that also affects our body and our moods and our mental health,” Paltrow said. To come out of her depression, Paltrow said she had to “turn inward, listen inward and put faith that the body knows how to heal itself.”
Paltrow continued, “If you are willing to sit with what’s there. Sometimes it’s really dark and scary and nobody wants to feel those those things. I came to understand if you delve into it, that’s how you move through it.”