Becoming a parent is a big change, and sometimes it can be difficult. Postpartum depression (PPD) affects many new mothers, and it can be hard to know how to help and support a loved one who is struggling with it. But with the right support, new mothers with PPD can recover and enjoy the wonderful experience of being a parent. In this blog post, we will explore ways that families can support loved ones with PPD and provide the necessary love and care to help them through this difficult time.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION
There are ways to identify postpartum depression. The signs and symptoms of PPD may include:
Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or hopelessness
Loss of interest in things that were once enjoyed
Difficulty bonding with the baby
Fatigue and lack of energy
Difficulty sleeping, even when the baby is sleeping
Changes in appetite and weight
Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
It's important to keep in mind that these symptoms can vary in severity and duration, and not all women will experience the same symptoms. It's also important to note that these symptoms can also happen after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or adoption.
WHAT TO SAY & WHAT NOT TO SAY
It can be scary and difficult to know where to start if you you are concerned that a loved one may be struggling with PPD. Here are some helpful (and not so helpful) strategies when approaching someone who may be suffering:
DON'T SAY: "Just snap out of it"
DO SAY: "I believe you and I am here for you."
Let them know that you understand how they are feeling and that their feelings are valid. Validation is a helpful way to support someone because it helps to acknowledge and understand the other person's feelings, experiences, and perspectives. It helps to create a safe space for the person to express themselves and it reassures them that their feelings are normal and understandable. It also helps to build trust, as it shows that you are actively listening and trying to understand them.
When someone is going through a difficult time, such as postpartum depression, they may feel isolated, misunderstood, and like their feelings are not valid. By validating their feelings, you are communicating that you understand and empathize with what they are going through. This can help to reduce their feelings of isolation and can help them to feel more comfortable discussing their thoughts and feelings.
Validation also helps to avoid minimizing or dismissing a person's feelings, which can be hurtful and make the situation worse. When someone feels like their feelings are being dismissed, it can lead them to shut down emotionally, and it can make it harder for them to trust and open up to you in the future.
DON'T SAY: "You're not a real mother if you feel this way. You should be happy, you have a baby now"
DO SAY: "This is a common experience for new mothers. It's okay to not be okay. You are not alone in this. I know you're a great mom, and you're doing the best you can. It's not your fault and you are not weak for feeling this way."
Normalization is a helpful way to support someone because it helps to put their experiences and feelings into perspective. It acknowledges that what they are going through is normal and that it is not a sign of weakness or failure. It also helps to reduce feelings of isolation and shame, which can be common for people experiencing mental health issues like postpartum depression.
When someone is going through a difficult time, such as postpartum depression, they may feel like they are the only one experiencing these feelings and that there is something wrong with them. Normalization helps to remind them that what they are going through is a common experience and that many people have gone through similar struggles. It also helps to reassure them that they are not alone in their experience and that there is hope for recovery.
Normalization also helps to reduce the stigma associated with mental health conditions. It reminds people that mental health is just as important as physical health and that it is nothing to be ashamed of.
DON'T SAY: "It will pass, don't worry about it"
DO SAY: "It's important to take care of yourself. I'm here for you, and I'll be with you every step of the way. Would you like me to make an appointment for you to see a therapist?"
Encouraging someone to seek help is supportive because it acknowledges that the person is going through a difficult time and that they need support to get through it. It also shows that you care about their well-being and that you want to see them get better.
Encouraging someone to seek help can also help to reduce the person's feelings of isolation and hopelessness, which can be common for people experiencing mental health issues like postpartum depression. By encouraging them to seek help, you are reminding them that there is hope for recovery and that they are not alone in their struggles.
Encouraging someone to seek help can also help to reduce the stigma associated with mental health conditions. It sends the message that it is okay to ask for help, and it is a sign of strength to do so. It also shows that mental health is just as important as physical health and that it is nothing to be ashamed of.
Encouraging someone to seek help can also be beneficial to the person in the long term. It can help them to get the support and treatment they need to recover and improve their mental health. It can also help to prevent the condition from getting worse and avoid complications.
In addition to the above, here are some other helpful ways you can encourage your loved one to seek help:
Emphasize the importance of self-care: Remind your loved one that taking care of themselves is important for their well-being and for their role as a parent.
Encourage them to talk to their healthcare provider: Their doctor can assess their symptoms and provide a proper diagnosis. They may also be able to refer them to a mental health professional.
Provide resources: Offer to help your loved one find a therapist or counselor who specializes in PPD. You can also provide them with information about support groups, hotlines, and online resources.
Help them make an appointment: Offer to help your loved one schedule an appointment with a therapist or counselor. If they are hesitant to seek help, offer to go with them to the first appointment.
Support them during therapy: Encourage your loved one to attend therapy and follow their therapist's recommendations. Let them know that you are proud of them for taking steps to improve their mental health.
Help them find a support group: Support groups can be a great way to connect with other people who are going through similar experiences.
Follow up with them: Check in with your loved one regularly to see how they are doing and to offer continued support.
Be patient: Remember that seeking help can be difficult, and it may take some time for your loved one to be ready. Be patient and continue to offer support and encouragement.
Seek help for yourself: Caring for a loved one with PPD can be emotionally and mentally draining. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and seeking support if you need it.
WHERE TO FIND RESOURCES
It's important to remember that PPD is a serious condition that requires professional help. PPD is also a treatable condition, and with the right help, your loved one can recover and enjoy the wonderful experience of being a parent. Here are a few ways to get a loved one connected to care: