The news that Nashville actress Hayden Panettiere has begun treatment for postpartum depression has been spreading around the Internet. Postpartum depression is a condition that is often not taken seriously enough, and women are expected to simply snap out of it. But with Panettiere’s big step towards recovery, she is helping to raise awareness. And by helping raise awareness, she’s helping mothers everywhere.

Panettiere and her husband Wladimir Klitschko welcomed baby girl Kaya in December 2014. Since then, Panettiere has discussed her struggle with postpartum depression.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding. There’s a lot of people out there that think that it’s not real, that it’s not true, that it’s something that’s made up in their minds, that ‘Oh, it’s hormones.’ They brush it off,” Panettiere said on Live! With Kelly and Michael back in September. “It’s something that’s completely uncontrollable. It’s really painful and it’s really scary and women need a lot of support.”

Panettiere has said she wasn’t initially aware she had postpartum depression because she was under the impression it meant she would be experiencing negative thoughts about her daughter, which wasn’t the case. Postpartum depression actually effects women in a variety of ways and at different levels of severity.

Common Symptoms:

  • Feeling sad almost daily
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Losing interest in your usual everyday activities
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping or wanting too much sleep
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Feeling a drop in your self-esteem
  • Difficulty focusing and making decisions
  • Anxiety

According to WebMD, if you have five or more of these symptoms for two weeks or longer, you may have depression, and you should talk to your doctor. But even if you are experiencing just a couple of these symptoms, you should seek help.

Severe Symptoms:

  • Feeling of emotional distance between you and your baby and other loved ones
  • Feelings of confusion
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby or someone else
  • Mood swings and strange behavior
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations and delusions

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek help immediately as your situation is considered an emergency and you are at risk of harming yourself or your baby.

About 13% of women will experience postpartum depression beginning within the first 3 weeks after giving birth. Sometimes, symptoms may not begin until months after the baby is born. While it can be difficult to diagnosis yourself, your doctor can help you determine if you are suffering from the “baby blues” or postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression isn’t something you can snap out of and it must be taken seriously. Panettiere has helped show us that the best thing we can do is to not be ashamed, and to seek proper medical help.