After millions of dollars in legal fees, the once-golden actress was penniless and filed for bankruptcy.
At her lowest point, she nearly ignored one of the few scripts that came her way, saying she was frustrated to be offered another mob story.
"That's all they see me for," Bracco said.
She rejected the part of Carmella on "The Sopranos" but was drawn to a smaller role, the educated, professional woman.
The bold choice would finally make her a household name, yet even the role of Dr. Melfi was not enough to lift her mood.
"I should have been dancing in the streets, because I'd worked so hard to get there. And I looked at myself in the mirror, and I went 'why are you not just jumping for joy?'" Bracco said.
As she emerged from the fog, Bracco went public in a commercial for the medication Zoloft, which along with therapy helped to revive her spirit.
With the final season of "The Sopranos" earning her a reported $4 million, Bracco is now financially and emotionally secure.
Her new project is the Italian wine label, Bracco Wines, and she's braving romance again with a much younger man, 32-year-old Jason Cippolla, a driver for "The Sopranos" cast.
"I was more intimidated than Jason because of the age difference," Bracco said. "I was like 'Oh my God! What am I doing?'"
She joked that as long as he's older than her children, it's OK.
And for Bracco, life is now "fun."
"The kids are good, things are good," she said. "I've paid off all my bills. And I feel like a kid."