The Next Steps for America's Pop Tart

"Postpartum blues are reasonably common, but sometimes this becomes a major depressive disorder," said Spring. "It can cause a failure to sleep, concentrate, eat, take pleasure in things and even suicide. Many who suffer from this depression use alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism, though sometimes it is these substances which actually cause its onset."

With her impending divorce, her many nights on the town (with and without panties) and her shorn locks, Spears' image is certainly in need of some rehabilitation of its own.

"Over the long run, the best course is always honesty," said Loch Jones, a 35-year veteran of the public relations world. "I would always advise being as open as you can, as the truth will always come out eventually."

Handled correctly, Jones believes Spears can sell her time in rehab as being a troubled girl who did the responsible thing. Tara Conner, Miss USA, who will relinquish her crown when the new title-holder is chosen Friday, has done a series of press interviews in recent weeks that underscore her new sobriety and the many lessons she learned after crashing and burning (and going into rehab) late last year.

"Public opinion has changed in that people are now forgiving stars and not putting them on such a high pedestal," said Jones, who's based in Beverly Hills, Calif. "That more people know that illness can be treated by seeking help can only be a benefit to society."

Britney Spears as a positive role model may sound rather 1998, but it's certainly a more appealing prospect than the thought of her next night out with Paris.

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