Hayden Panettiere has been vocal about her struggle with postpartum depression after the birth of her first child, and on Sunday (Jan. 17), the Nashville actress walked her first red carpet since she entered treatment in October.

Panettiere spoke with E! News at the Critics' Choice Awards about how being honest and talking about her struggles has made her life better.

"I do feel and hope that it's made other people's lives better and more of an understanding because postpartum depression was not something that I ever understood," she admits. "You could never understand it unless you have a personal involvement in it. I didn't realize how much of a stigma it had about it."

Panettiere, who welcomed her first daughter, Kaya, with fiancé Wladimir Klitschko in December 2014, reveals that she had been hiding who she really is and was constantly terrified that someone would judge what she said, what she wore or what she did.

"Once I let that go and said, 'I'm 26 years old. I'm a mom. I want to put out a good example for my daughter and tell her that she can be anyone she wants and she does not have to be afraid that somebody is not going to like it.' Because no matter what you do, there's always going to be somebody who doesn't like it," she explains.

"I was floored by the positive response and really happy that I can stand up for the women who are out there suffering from this and let them know that it's OK and they're not alone."