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Brooke Shields Joked That She’s Glad Tom Cruise Criticized Her Antidepressant Use — It Backfired



Brooke Shields Joked That She’s Glad Tom Cruise Criticized Her Antidepressant Use — It Backfired

Dominik Bindl/Mike Coppola/Getty Images

  • In 2005, Tom Cruise criticized Brooke Shields’ use of antidepressants for postpartum depression.
  • At the 2024 PHM HealthFront, Brooke Shields said his comments “backfired.”
  • She said the controversy brought more mainstream awareness around postpartum and mental health.

In one of the most controversial moments of Tom Cruise’s career, the actor criticized Brooke Shields for talking about her use of antidepressants to treat postpartum depression.

Almost 20 years later, Shields says Cruise accidentally raised awareness around the issue and drove people to fight for better treatment.

Cruise was interviewed on “The Today Show” in 2005, where he slammed Shields’ use of antidepressants.
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In 2005, Shields had just published her memoir “Down Came the Rain,” in which she described taking Paxil, an SSRI, after the birth of her first daughter, Rowan. “I was deadened, and it terrified me because I wanted to have a baby so badly,” Shields, 58, said on Wednesday at the 2024 PHM HealthFront, a two-day event for healthcare marketers and health media. “I went through IVF seven times, and so the journey was such a fraught one.”

Shields at a signing of her postpartum memoir, “Down Came the Rain,” in 2005.
Desiree Navarro/Stringer/Getty Images

Cruise initially called Brooke Shields “irresponsible” for using antidepressants in a 2005 “Access Hollywood” interview. When he was asked to elaborate on these comments in a 2005 interview on “The Today Show,” Cruise told Matt Lauer that “psychiatry is a pseudo-science” and that “drugs aren’t the answer.”

Promoting Scientology, Cruise opposed taking any “mind-altering antipsychotic drugs,” as it goes against the religion.

He slammed Shields for spreading “misinformation” and said “she doesn’t understand the history of psychiatry” when it came to using medication.

Shields said Cruise’s comments angered a lot of women

Brooke Shields with her daughters, Rowan Francis Henchy and Grier Hammond Henchy.
Dave Kotinsky/Stringer/Getty Images

Looking back on the incident, Shields said that Cruise’s comments ended up helping the cause.

“You gave women in particular — they were so angry — you gave them a reason to fight for something they didn’t even know they wanted to fight for,” Shields said at PHM, noting that women weren’t just sticking up for her but also for themselves.

“So it actually, ironically, helped the platform because everybody was talking about it,” Shields said. “It sort of backfired. Way to put it into pop culture.”

Cruise later apologized to Shields

A year after his comments, Shields said, Cruise delivered a “heartfelt” apology to Shields at her house and even mailed her an annual Christmas cake for many years.

Nearly 20 years later, the conversations around postpartum and depression treatments have changed dramatically. Shields is far from the only celebrity to be open about her PPD, though she played a crucial role in advocating for more awareness around the condition.

Shields testifying in DC for a postpartum pre-screening bill in 2007.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

In 2007, she testified in Congress for a bill that would require postpartum pre-screening for new mothers.

“I’m not an expert,” Shields said at PHM. “I’m just a woman who’s gone through that and wanted to help other women get the help that they deserve.”

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