Alyssa Milano has opened up about suffering crippling anxiety attacks that led to her being admitted to a psychiatric ward.

Alyssa Milano

Alyssa Milano

The 45-year-old actress - who has six-year-old Milo and three-year-old Elizabella with husband David Bugliari - believes her battle with Generalised Anxiety Disorder was triggered by postpartum depression after her "dream" pregnancy was hit by complications that led to her requiring a Caesarian section and subsequently struggling to breastfeed.

She wrote in a candid essay for Time magazine: "My Generalised Anxiety Disorder was most likely triggered by my postpartum depression, and my journey with mental illnesses began with my journey into motherhood...

"That first night, after we returned from the hospital, I suffered my first anxiety attack.

"I felt like I had already disappointed my child. I felt like I failed as a mother, since I was not able to give birth vaginally or nourish him with the breast milk that had not come in yet.

"My heart raced. My stomach seized up. I felt like I was dying."

The 'Charmed' star was then hit by another wave of "paralysing anxiety" when Milo fell ill a few months later, and things only got worse when she went back to work.

She continued: "As we began filming, my anxiety worsened. I began to develop irrational and obsessive fears.

"Like many working moms, I was overwhelmed by guilt for leaving my son during work hours, and like many others who suffer from anxiety, my pain was not taken seriously.

"Every day, I would drive to work and think about all the ways that Milo could die in the hands of his caretakers. Every night, after working 16-hour days, after I was finally able to hold my child and put him to sleep, my day's anxiety would culminate into a debilitating anxiety attack."

But Alyssa eventually "hit a wall" and sought help, though she faced a struggle to get the people around her to understand her condition.

She wrote: "One early morning, I went to the emergency room at 2:00 AM, asked for a psychiatrist and got help. I felt as though I had no choice: I asked to be committed; I stayed in a public psychiatric ward for three days.

"At last, I began to feel as if my pain was recognised, but it wasn't easy. 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."

The 'Insatiable' star - who urged people to speak more openly about mental illness and for better healthcare provisions for those affected - was thankful to have some "angels" around her as she knows it's an issue she'll continue to fight for some time.

She added: "But throughout this process, I also found angels -- including my psychiatrist and my therapist. They convinced me that I had the bravery to face my illness, the value to seek help and the strength to recover.

"And I am continuing to do all three. And most likely I will for the rest of my life."

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