NEW YORK - Brooke Shields took aim at Tom Cruise's "Today" show diatribe against antidepressants, saying the drugs helped her survive feelings of hopelessness after the birth of her first child. In an op-ed piece published Friday in The New York Times, Shields criticized what she called Cruise's "ridiculous rant."
Cruise had criticized the actress for taking the drugs, and became particularly passionate about the issue in an interview on "Today" last week.
"You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do," Cruise told Matt Lauer.
He went on to say there was no such thing as chemical imbalances that need to be corrected with drugs, and that depression could be treated with exercise and vitamins.
"I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Cruise has never suffered from postpartum depression," Shields wrote.
She added that Cruise's comments "are a disservice to mothers everywhere. To suggest that I was wrong to take drugs to deal with my depression, and that instead I should have taken vitamins and exercised shows an utter lack of understanding about postpartum depression and childbirth in general."
Shields said she considered swallowing a bottle of pills or jumping out the window at the lowest point of her depression following the birth of her daughter, Rowan Francis, in 2003. A doctor later attributed her feelings to a plunge in her estrogen and progesterone levels and prescribed the antidepressant Paxil.
"If any good can come of Mr. Cruise's ridiculous rant, let's hope that it gives much-needed attention to a serious disease," she wrote.
Shields described her post-childbirth experiences in the book "Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression."
Cruise is a follower of Scientology, a religion that teaches that psychiatry is a destructive pseudo-science.
In an interview with AP Radio Wednesday night, Kelly Preston, who is also a Scientologist, defended the actor's "Today" show comments about Shields. "If you're going to be advocating drugs, which she does in her book, you need to be responsible for also telling the people of the potential risks."
Preston also said Cruise's heated debate with Lauer was "very helpful because it's just raised awareness. People are talking about it now, and that's what they should be."
"Whatever your political, social or religious background, this is an issue that affects all of us," she said. "It is not just a Scientology issue."