Hayden Panettiere: 'I'm a better mom after postpartum struggle'

Overcoming her battle with postpartum depression has made actress Hayden Panettiere a better mother to her daughter Kaya.

The Nashville star went public with her personal issues in late 2015, almost a year after welcoming her first child with boxer fiance Wladimir Klitschko.

She took a leave of absence from her country music TV drama to seek professional help, and underwent a second stint in rehab last year (16).

Hayden has since bounced back from the mental health struggle and claims she is now "stronger" than ever before.

Recalling how she identified her problem, she told breakfast show Good Morning America, "You feel off, you don't feel like yourself."

"Women are so resilient, and that's the incredible thing about them, and I think I'm all the stronger for it (battling postpartum depression)," she continued. "I think I'm a better mom because of it because you never take that connection for granted."

The 27-year-old found art imitating her life as her Nashville character, Juliette Barnes, also went through a similar situation onscreen, and while the role was emotionally draining for Hayden, she admits acting out her TV alter ego's issues helped her process her own struggles.

She said, "I think it helped me identify what was going on and to let women know that it's OK to ask for help and it's OK to have a moment of weakness and it doesn't make you a bad person, (it) doesn't make you a bad mother."

Now Hayden is "feeling fabulous" and she is thankful to be back on Nashville, after the show was initially canceled by bosses at ABC. The series' fifth season was picked up by chiefs at cable channel CMT (Country Music Television) and began airing in December (16).

"I'm so glad to be back playing Juliette," she gushed. "Everything that she's been through, it was like a hazard sign in the road, and she made me stronger. I feel like she's like a phoenix: she crashes and burns, and then she rises from the ashes, and she always takes the lesson and becomes stronger for it, so we have that in common, I think."

And Hayden is also enjoying life at home with little Kaya, who is already following in her dad's sporting footsteps by showing off her skiing skills at the age of two.

"I was just with her in Austria and she's skiing now!" the proud mom laughed. "She has no fear... she would go straight into a wall if you let her!"