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
How To Help Someone With Postpartum Depression
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I was ten months postpartum when my husband said to me that my feelings of sadness, anxiety, and overwhelm might be a sign of something more. At the time, I didnt believe it because everything I read about postpartum depression and anxiety said that as you get closer to the year mark you should be feeling better. Should is the keyword here because feelings arent a one size fits all kind of thing. As we all know with parenthood, what works or doesnt work for another family may turn out to work differently for you. If thats the case with sleep training, pacifiers, and swaddling, why do we often feel different when it comes to having the baby blues or postpartum depression.
For the first nine months after becoming a mother, I thought that I was supposed to feel overwhelmed, scared, anxious, protective, and rigid when it came to motherhood. I thought everyone cried at the end of most long days and had a hard time waking up the next day to do it all over again. I believed that being a mother was hard work and that maybe I just wasnt cut out for the job after all. Even though I knew I was doing my very best, I continued to feel like it wasnt enough and that I was continuously letting my family down.
While labels in life arent always important, having one in this situation gave me a starting point to begin my recovery journey.
Being Aware And Helping The Mom
It’s important to know when it’s time for the mother to get professional help, if she’s not seeking it herself.
When she’s extremely sad and crying frequently if her anxiety is making it difficult for her to care for her baby if she’s having difficulty sleeping or eating or if she’s having thoughts or feelings that are worrisome to her or those who care about her, she should be encouraged to speak to her physician immediately.
Also, encourage her to talk to about what she is going through. Many women keep their feelings inside because they feel shame and anticipate being judged.
Instead of saying, Tell me how I can help, offer concrete suggestions. For example, I can come and sit with the baby for two or three hours so you can nap or go out to dinner is much more helpful.
Those of us who became parents 20 or 30 years ago or who never had children need to realize that a womans values or ideas about motherhood may not be the same as ours and that societal norms have changed.
If youre a parent who has experienced similar struggles, you may want to share them with the new mom.
Linda Byszynski, of Glendale, N.Y., a stay-at-home mom and certified lactation consultant, experienced severe postpartum depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder with intrusive thoughts after giving birth to her second daughter, who is now 9.
If medication is recommended, be supportive. Whatever helps the mom to feel better will help her baby.
Read Also: What To Do When Starting To Feel Depressed
Offer To Help Out In Specific Ways
Even with professional treatment, your partner is still going to need your help to get better. The more support she receives, the better her chances of getting well even faster.
When someone is struggling with depression, they may find it harder to make decisions. And someone with anxiety may want to do everything themselves. So simply asking your partner, Can I help? may not do the trick.
Instead, make a plan and tell your partner specifically how youre going to help. Tell her, Im going to take the baby to the grocery store so you can take a nap. Or, Im going to pick up dinner for us tonight on my way home. This will make it easier for your partner to accept help. And it gives you the chance to take a real role in helping your whole family feel better.
Once someone starts treatment for postpartum depression or anxiety, they usually start to feel better in about six weeks. So focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. The steps you are taking to help your partner now are vital. Your partner will definitely appreciate your help when theyre back to feeling like their normal self!
Leaning Into Your Role
In general, your main role when supporting a new Mom with postpartum depression is to be a good listener and provide a safe space. That means:
- Listen to them and allow them to express their feelings without judgment.
- Donât try to fix their feelings. Instead, you can validate what they are feeling and empathize as best you can.
- Help them understand that you donât blame them for how they are feeling and that postpartum depression isnât their fault.
- Help them understand that what they are experiencing is temporary and treatment for postpartum depression works, and they will feel like themselves again.
- Help them understand that feelings are not facts and that a helping professional can assist them with sorting out thoughts that may not be true.
The five recommendations related to supporting someone with postpartum depression outlined in this article can seem easier said than done. However, do not minimize the power of your presence, encouragement, and lending your listening ear to the new Mom in your life.
Also Check: Is It Depression Or Anxiety Test
Taking Care Of Yourself
Theres a natural impulse to want to fix the problems of people we care about, but you cant control someone elses depression. You can, however, control how well you take care of yourself. Its just as important for you to stay healthy as it is for the depressed person to get treatment, so make your own well-being a priority.
Remember the advice of airline flight attendants: put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. In other words, make sure your own health and happiness are solid before you try to help someone who is depressed. You wont do your friend or family member any good if you collapse under the pressure of trying to help. When your own needs are taken care of, youll have the energy you need to lend a helping hand.
Speak up for yourself. You may be hesitant to speak out when the depressed person in your life upsets you or lets you down. However, honest communication will actually help the relationship in the long run. If youre suffering in silence and letting resentment build, your loved one will pick up on these negative emotions and feel even worse. Gently talk about how youre feeling before pent-up emotions make it too hard to communicate with sensitivity.
Icipating In Clinical Research
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.
Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct many studies with patients and healthy volunteers. We have new and better treatment options today because of what clinical trials uncovered years ago. Be part of tomorrows medical breakthroughs. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you.
For more information about clinical research and how to find clinical trials being conducted around the country, visit NIMH’s clinical trials information webpage.
Recommended Reading: Is Depression A Mental Disease
Things Not To Say To A Woman With Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression, which affects an estimated 9 to 16 percent of new moms, is better understood than ever before, meaning there is more awareness about the condition and access to treatment.
But in other ways, it’s still shrouded in mystery and misinformation.
“I’m convinced the whole world thinks we now know everything about postpartum depression and everyone’s on board and supportive , but I don’t think that’s true — not yet,” said Katherine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress, a blog and non-profit. “We know more, and there’s certainly more discussion, but given what I hear from women on the ground, there’s still a huge lack of understanding.”
That means a lot of women struggling with postpartum depression find that their friends, family and partners either say the absolute wrong things to them, or nothing at all.
1. “Oh, that happens to everyone.”
The “baby-blues” — feelings of sadness, fear or anger within the first one to two weeks after birth — are extremely common, affecting nearly 80 percent of new moms, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. But postpartum depression is a very different thing, both in terms of how severe it is and how long it lasts.
2. “You’d feel better if you did X.”
3. “When I had a baby, I didn’t have time to be depressed.”
“This is one I heard 100 years ago when I was talking to a woman about the work I do,” said Kleiman. “So many people just don’t understand this .”
What to say instead:
Take Care Of Yourself
There are a number of things you can do to help yourself feel better faster.
Eating well is important during pregnancy, after birth and while breastfeeding. For some individuals eating well can be difficult, as during these times your body goes through many physical and hormonal changes. These changes can impact your appetite, your mood and how you cope with daily stress.
If you are not eating regularly or not eating enough nutrient-rich foods, it could be affecting your energy and mood. If eating well feels like a big challenge, focus on small changes:
- Eat often or about every 2-3 hours- try at least a few bites.
- Carry healthful snacks with you when going out.
- Prepare quick, easy meals, or enjoy a healthy take-out meal.
- Eating and cooking with family and friends can help.
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.
Ways You Can Help Yourself
Our page on depression has ideas on ways to look after yourself. As well as these, try to build a support network so you can meet friends and other new parents for a chat. Accept offers of help: dont feel you have to do everything yourself.
Tommys has information about planning ahead for after the birth with practical tips on some of the practical and emotional stresses you may experience.
Also Check: How To Deal With A Depressed Spouse
Eating Well Is More Than The Foods You Eat
Paying attention to where, when, why and how you eat can make a difference:
- Be mindful of your eating habits:
- Recognize when you allow emotions and stress to affect your appetite.
- When you feel hungry, dont ignore it, make time to eat.
- Prevent overeating when stressed by taking the time to enjoy your food, and be aware of what you eat, and when you feel satisfied.
Talking To Your Health Care Provider About Your Mental Health
Communicating well with your doctor health care provider can improve your care and help you both make good choices about your health. Read our Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit. For additional resources, including questions to ask your doctor, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
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Im Worried That I Have Postpartum Depression How Can I Talk To My Partner About It
First of all, you’re not alone, and it’s not your fault. There are so many other mothers out there who feel the same way you do. Four out of five moms experience some change in their emotional health after pregnancy. Up to 20 percent of postpartum mothers experience postpartum depression, and 80 percent are affected by the baby blues.
The first step to feeling like yourself again is admitting that something doesn’t feel right. This can be hard for many women, but it’s the most important thing you can do. The sooner you admit something is wrong, the sooner you’ll be on the road to recovery.
The next step is to ask someone for help. Sometimes moms try to deal with postpartum depression on their own, or hope that ignoring it will make the feelings go away. But postpartum depression needs to be addressed and treated so you can feel better and begin to enjoy motherhood, and also so your postpartum depression doesn’t transition into general depression.
Women usually reach out to the people they feel closest to. This could be your partner, best friend, mother, or even someone you work with. It doesn’t matter who it is. What matters is that you pick someone you can trust, someone you believe will receive what you have to say openly and without judgment. That person is in the best position to help you get what you need now and support you along the road to recovery.
If you think you may have postpartum depression, answer these simple screening questions.
Offer To Babysit So She Can Enjoy Some Alone Time
When people become parents, they develop a new identity, but they dont need to lose themselves in dirty diapers and sleepless nights.
Offer to babysit on weekends so she can focus on self-care and catch up on sleep. If shes comfortable with it, get the whole family involved and take the kids out for the day.
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What Can I Do To Help Her With Postpartum Depression
Of course, while scientists are at work trying to understand PPD for the future, families must deal with its very real consequences today. Here are some tips for helping a woman with postpartum depression:
Find support. Start with pactforthecure.com/resources.
Read up. Get educated on PPD.
Work as a team. Understand that postpartum depression is no ones fault.
Invalidate. Dont say things like, You need to get over it.
Shameor guilther. Dont say things like, Stop feeling sorry for yourself or Whats the matter with you?
Compare. Dont talk about how well other new moms are doing in comparison to her.
The UNC Center for Womens Mood Disorders can help your family make it through postpartum depression. If you need help, call 974-5217 and choose option No. 3, or email .