Ways To Support A Mother Who Has Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression can be very overwhelming and isolating. Here are six ways you can help someone who is going through it.
Postpartum depression is a stealthy condition. I nearly missed it. I was visiting a close friend who had given birth to her first child about a month earlier. As I cradled her little boy, he let out a tiny perfect baby yawn and my heart melted. You wont believe what he just did, I gushed, as my friend emerged from her bedroom. It was the most adorable thing! I expected her to rush over and investigate the cuteness Id just witnessed. Instead, she held up her hand in an I cant even sort of way, stumbled into the kitchen to get some Advil and went back to bed.
I was dumbfounded. Why isnt she more excited? Why doesnt she seem connected to him? Though unspoken, my judgment blinded me from seeing what her lack of joy really indicated. A couple of months later, she was diagnosed with PPD and I realized how completely unsupportive Id been.
In those early weeks and months, new mothers need lots of help. A fair number of them7.5 percent, according to Health Canadaexperience depressive symptoms in the exhausting postpartum period. As soon as I realized my blunder, I took some overnight babysitting shifts so that my friend could get some rest and helped whenever I could. Whether youre a friend, sibling or neighbour to a mother with PPD, here are some ways that you can be supportive.
Listen To Her And Let Her Know You Arent Judging
Allowing new moms to have the space to share their feelings and thoughts without judgement is one of the best ways to support them.
Intrusive thoughts are common in postpartum. Most people dont feel comfortable sharing these disturbing thoughts even in therapy. However, speaking them out loud often gives the scary thoughts less power. A great book to refer her to is Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts by Karen Kleiman.
Does The Doctor Know How Youre Feeling
Depression is a very real illness. This means its often treatable and manageable. Encourage your mom or dad to talk with their doctor if theyre feeling depressed, because there are options for resolving the issue. Be honest with your parent: Tell them that youre concerned about their well-being and that you think a health care professionals opinion might be helpful.
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How To Deal With A Depressed Mother
Dealing with a depressed family member never comes easy, but when depression affects your mother, the roles flip, and you have to become the responsible one 1. Depression can cause many problems for your mom, including feeling extremely sad or experiencing fatigue. This can lead to relationship and work problems as well.
Dealing with a depressed family member never comes easy, but when depression affects your mother, the roles flip, and you have to become the responsible one 1. Depression can cause many problems for your mom, including feeling extremely sad or experiencing fatigue. This can lead to relationship and work problems as well. Treatment such as medication and therapy can reduce these symptoms, allowing your mom to live a more normal life.
Get familiar with the signs and symptoms of depression and spend some time reading material about the disorder. According to the 2002 Psychology Today article “Depression: A Family Matter,” understanding your mother’s symptoms are important for getting her help 1. Once you understand the issues surrounding depression, you’ll probably have more patience, know how to respond to your mom and have a better understanding of the treatment options.
Don’t expect your mom to improve too quickly. Most antidepressants take weeks to become effective, and she may need months or years of therapy. Practice patience with her and offer her emotional support.
What If Your Help Still Doesnt Work
Sometimes, situations like this are out of our control as outsiders. Mental health therapy can help support new moms, too, especially alongside a good support system like you.
Postpartum Support International has a directory of therapists who specialize in perinatal mental health. Start with that and go from there.
The most important thing is that you continue to show up for her and listen to her.
Depressed Mom Treatment Options
Half of Americans who suffer from clinical depression don’t receive any treatment, according to a survey by researchers at UCLA and at Wayne State University, in Detroit. But going without help only makes things worse, since the risks of untreated depression are worse than those of the commonly prescribed treatments, says Dr. Finley.
A doctor will evaluate your symptoms of depression and find the best treatment option for you, whether its talk therapy, support groups, or antidepressant medication. Some of these drugs can be safely taken while breastfeeding . Doctors generally start patients on the lowest dose. It may take several tries before they hit on the right drug, and once that happens, Dr. Finley recommends staying on it for at least six months because studies have shown that going off antidepressants too soon ups the risk of relapse.
How To Deal With A Depressed Parent
This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin specializing in Addictions and Mental Health. She provides therapy to people who struggle with addictions, mental health, and trauma in community health settings and private practice. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011.There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 83% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 322,420 times.
Its difficult to know your role when your parent has depression. Depending on your age, there may be very little you can do to help, but there are some things which may help you to deal with having a depressed parent.
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You Might Feel Like A Depressed Mom If You Have Unrealistic Standards
This is a huge one.
If you are living in a world in which everything you do is Not Enough and you feel like your value or place in the world is determined by how perfectly you perform you are in for a world of hurt.
This type of attitude colors your entire life and creates ridiculous amounts of stress and anxiety. Ask me how I know.
By truly acknowledging and realizing that you are living in a paradigm where you are Not Good Enough and can only be Good Enough by constant doing, you can begin to make steps that will dramatically change your life.
People Will Respond If You Tell Them You Need Help
Two moms rushed over to me and another one distracted my son. One mom calmed me down and reassured me I was OK. I was lucky to have someone understand all I needed was someone to see me and empathize. I was able to calm down and go back to the party.I felt a little embarrassed, but I got the help I needed because I asked. Just imagine you saw a mother struggling in public wouldnt you reach out to her without thinking? Let someone who is feeling stronger at the moment be your shoulder to lean on.
My virtual shoulder is here, just as many physical ones surround you right now if you just take that first step and reach out.
Editors note: This is one persons experience and is not offered as a substitute for consultation with a mental health professional. If you are depressed, please seek out professional medical help.
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This Is One Of The Most Difficult Things You Can Experience But Know That Youre Not Alone
The isolation that a depressed person feels is one of the hardest things to cope with. When you acknowledge their pain and remind Mom or Dad that theyre not alone, youre letting them know that theyre being seen and heard. This isnt easy and there are no quick solutions. But you can let them know that you are truly there for them. Knowing this might help your parent remember their own value and worth.
Get Socially Connected Both Of You
Talk to a friend, get to know people outside of your age group who may have more time than young moms, join something weekly or biweekly, or just get real with friends about the struggle. As humans, we need social connection to thrive and when we are without that social connection–we suffer. Check your social media and see if there are any local moms groups you can join, volunteering groups, or moms night out groups. This can be a great place to meet other people and begin to realize you are not alone in your struggle.
My Mom Is Depressed And I Want To Know How To Help
Thank you for writing in with your question. It is very clear to me that you care a great deal for your mother and are worried about her. Im sorry that she seems to be going through a rough time right now. Since it has only been a couple weeks that you have noticed a more severe change in her mood, it could be that she is just not feeling well and may pull out of it. It does sound like she has a lot on her plate raising 6 children with your father not being around much. She probably gets tired and overwhelmed. However, keep in mind that your father isnt at home much because he is working to support the family. And though it may not be ideal, this may be an agreement that your parents have between them.
I appreciate your concern for your mother and know you want to help her if you can, but I want to remind you that you are the child and she is the adult. She is the one in the role of looking out for you and your siblings and making sure your needs are met. It is not your job to take care of her. Your job is to go to school, help out at home, and enjoy this very important part of your life.
All the best,
Develop Effective Coping Skills
All moms need ways to instantly cope with feeling overwhelmed, angry, or sad because your kids wont wait 30 minutes for you to take a bath. Effective coping skills are necessary, especially finding the right ones that work for YOU!
It might take a few tries to find which ones are more effective for you, but keep on trying. Some skills you might implement include:
- Grounding techniques
Help Her Access Professional Support
If she experiences depression and/or anxiety for more than two weeks find professional help for her. Women recover more quickly the sooner they access professional help.
Another way to offer support, which I think is both practical and emotional, is to call ahead to all of the mental health professionals that are in your area that help women with postpartum mood disorders and do the leg work which many new moms feel too overwhelmed to do.
Get details of location, cost and also ask the professionals about their specialist training in postpartum mood disorders, how many years that have been treating women and how many patients they have actually treated. Many therapists now say they treat this but their experience and training differs widely from years of experience and training to completing a weekend course and only having seen a few women so far. Any therapist who minds you asking isnt someone youd want to see.
Offer to drive your friend to her psychologists appointment, and sit in the waiting area with the baby so she can be near the baby but not distracted so she can really talk.
My own therapy practice is based in Northbrook, IL and I do offer remote counseling by phone and Skype-like sessions to women in Illinois seeking help who live too far away to drive to my office
If you would like to read more of my Pregnancy & Postpartum related articles please click Dr. Allens Pregnancy & Postpartum Blog
Does Postpartum Depression Qualify For A Disability
Women who need certain accommodations after pregnancy due to postpartum depression may be considered a disability under the Americans with Disability Act . The individual affected with postpartum depression can be permitted certain accommodations with employers. Postpartum depression awareness month takes place in May.
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Depression In Pregnant Women And Mothers: How It Affects You And Your Child
Depression is an illness that affects the way people think, act and feel. About 6% of women will experience depression at some point in their lives. This number increases to about 10% for women who are pregnant.
Women are more at risk of depression while they are pregnant, and during the weeks and months after having a baby. During pregnancy, hormone changes can affect brain chemicals and cause depression and anxiety. Sometimes, pregnant women dont realize they are depressed. They may think they have symptoms of pregnancy or the baby blues, which many women experience right after birth.
Its also important to know that as many as 10% of fathers experience postpartum depression after the birth of a child.
The good news is that depression can be treated. Read the signs listed below, and talk to your doctor if you have any of them. Let your partner and family members know the signs so that they can also be aware.
If you dont get help, depression can cause problems for you and your baby.
What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
Also visit the online treatment locator.
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We’re Tired Beyond Comprehension
Carrying around the weight of this disease all the time takes its toll on my physical and mental health. Even on successful days â ones where I’m able to wrangle the dark cloud longer than usual â I reach the end of the day feeling and undeniable sense of relief. It’s a mental fatigue that morphs into physical symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, and that “don’t want to get out of bed” feeling. I do, though. More than I want the depression to rule me, I want to get through the day. No matter how taxing.
Focus More On Her Instead Of The Baby
Ask HER how shes feeling, how her birth experience went, what shes most excited for, what shes still questioning, and more. By shifting the focus more on her, she will feel less invisible after one of the most important changes in her life. Too often people visit to hold the newborn and not also the mother.
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Try Making Mom Friends
Stay-at-home moms most often interact with their children. And while you are almost never alone as a stay-at-home parent, being home with young children can be very isolating and lonely.
It might feel like no one can truly understand the monotony, challenges, and truly off-the-wall things that can happen when you are home with the kids all day, every day. But someone else who is in a similar situation can relate to you with an empathetic ear.
Having a friend to commiserate with over the thousandth diaper change or tantrum can make you feel less alone. Plus, stay-at-home mom friends with kids mean playdates for your children, as well as company for you as you dole out yet another round of snacks.
Not sure where to make mom friends? Consider these ideas for meeting other parents:
- check out your local mom groups
- ask your pediatrician or OBGYN about local meetups sponsored by your health network
- join local communities for moms and parents on social media
Oftentimes, members of these groups organize meetups at playgrounds and other kid-friendly locales.
Stay At Home Mom Depression And Anxiety
Depression and anxiety commonly co-exist. Depression can include symptoms of anxiety, like racing thoughts or excessive worrying. Anxiety in stay at home moms might look like:
- Worrying about everything, from how well your kids are developing to what you will cook every night for dinner
- Excessively cleaning the house repeatedly
- Racing thoughts about grocery shopping, household chores, kids, relationships
- Planning everything to a T
- Stressing out when things do not go according to play
- Feeling overwhelmed all day long
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What Makes Yale Medicine’s Approach To The Identification And Treatment Of Parental Depression Unique
In addition to advancing research on how parental depression affects children and families, the Yale Child Study Center at Yale Medicine does groundbreaking work in increasing awareness of and screening for parental depression especially among the under-reached and underserved inner-city population in New Haven.
The MOMS Partnership program, a nationally recognized program for innovation in parental mental health intervention, posts trained community ambassadors at a variety of local sites, where they ask parents for permission to do a screening and obtain information on parenting more broadly. People identified as being potentially depressed are invited to a structured appointment in a clinical setting to determine whether or not they would benefit from treatment, which is offered in the same location.
The idea is that a mom can drop her children off at school and then go in and receive mental health care right there, Smith says. We are co-locating high-quality, evidence-based care for parents, removing the stigma and increasing the convenience of mental health care by putting it in places where parents interact with their children.
Smith credits those ambitious community intervention programs to the Child Study Centers international reputation and its long history of providing high-quality, community-based services. We have been able to build upon the history and trust that come with the Yale Child Study Center name in our community, she says.