Alyssa Milano Says She Spent 3 Days in a Psychiatric Ward for Anxiety

On Thursday, during Mental Health Awareness Month, actress and activist Alyssa Milano wrote about her generalized anxiety disorder and how she’s dealt with it for Time.

Milano first noticed symptoms after the birth of her son Milo, in 2011. She said her anxiety disorder was likely triggered by postpartum depression, so she entered her mental health journey as she entered motherhood.

Milano experienced a panic attack shortly after giving birth, but she said her anxiety worsened when she went back to work on a television show. After working long hours, her anxiety would turn into full panic attacks at night.

One night, Milano decided enough was enough and went to the emergency room. She asked to be admitted to the psychiatric ward where she spent the next three days.

“At last, I began to feel as if my pain was recognized, but it wasn’t easy,” she wrote. “One of my doctors dismissed my symptoms, and many of my colleagues, even female colleagues, still had trouble understanding that I was hurting at all.”

Despite the ignorance, Milano said she found “angels” in her psychiatrist and therapist. “They convinced me that I had the bravery to face my illness, the value to seek help and the strength to recover.”

Through her experiences, Milano recognizes that she’s lucky she was able to get the help she needed and is raising awareness that not everyone is as lucky as her.

“We should not confront these challenges by placing more hurdles in front of Americans who desperately need the care,” she said. “I was lucky enough to have the means and the insurance to get the help and support I needed. What happens to those mothers who don’t have the kind of support I received?”

Milano called for readers to rededicate themselves to talking about mental health, especially with lawmakers so that policies to increase accessibility to mental health care can be passed. She added she doesn’t want others to feel alone in their mental health journey, and accessible help is a step in preventing this.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, people with anxiety disorders are six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. and are “highly treatable,” yet less than 37 percent of people with anxiety receive treatment each year.

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