Ashley Judd Keeps a 'Psychological Support' Dog to Help Deal With Her Depression

Credit: ABC News

ABC News' Dan Harris and Erin Brady report:

Ashley Judd, who has reemerged in a lead role on a new ABC television series called "Missing," opened up about dealing with her depression, her registered "psychological support" dog named Shug at her side, and making amends with her family since the release of her explosive memoir last year.

During filming the interview with "Nightline," Judd insisted that her two dogs, including Shug, and five cats be on set. Judd said she could do the job without the animals there, but "it just adds to quality of life."

The actress, 43, who starred in blockbuster thrillers like "Kiss The Girls" and "Double Jeopardy," over a decade ago, used to be one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. But that all changed in 2006 after she visited her sister, country music legend Wynona Judd, at the at the Shades of Hope addiction treatment center in Texas. At the time, Wynona was being treated for an eating disorder, but counselors suggested Ashley should check into the center herself.

"What I said was, 'I'm so tired of holding up all this pain, I'm so glad to come to treatment,'" she said.

As she would later write in her memoir, "All That Is Bitter and Sweet," released last year, Ashley Judd was suffering from depression after a turbulent childhood of abuse and loneliness. Her mother Naomi Judd and sister Wynona used to tour the United States as the country music duo, The Judds, and left Ashley at home.

"God saved me from being angry and it impairs my ability to be of service to another human being," she told "Nightline."

After 42 days of treatment, Judd made an enormous life change and essentially retired from acting. Instead, she threw herself into charity work, where she said she found meaning in working at refugee camps and orphanages around the world. In 2010, she graduated from Harvard with a degree in public administration.

Today, Judd said she is "grateful" that she and her mother have a "precious relationship," and that she knows her family loves her.

"I love my sister and every time she walks in the room, I light up. There's just nothing like a big sister," Judd said. "We've learned, they've certainly been famous a lot longer than I have, and we've learned that it's really best not to dissemble our relationships in public. We do to a certain extent but the details are really none of anyone's business."