5 Ways to Help a Friend With Postpartum Depression
Having a baby is often considered one of the happiest moments in a woman’s life. But while it can be joyous, there are some new mothers who struggle with depression after their baby is born. While the exact number isn’t known, it’s believed that up to 80 percent of new mothers develop something known as the “baby blues.” This tends to be on the mild side and lasts a few weeks at most. But what if the sadness lasts longer? At that point it might be postpartum depression (PPD).
The American Psychological Association estimates that up to 16 percent of moms suffer from PPD after giving birth for the first time. PPD can be recognized by symptoms including irritability or hypersensitivity, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, crying, anger, negative feelings, loss of interest in activities, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, changes in eating habits and appetite, body pain and inability to adequately care for the baby. It can be really hard for a new mom who all of the sudden doesn’t feel like herself or doesn’t believe she will develop a mother-child bond with her baby.
If you believe someone you know is going through PPD, there are ways you can help and support her:
Be encouraging. Mothers with PPD might feel guilty and sad that they aren’t being the moms they want to be. Reassure her that she is doing a great job and encourage her as much as you can.
Listen to her. It can be so helpful to offer an open ear and allow her to express whatever she’s feeling without judgment or criticism.
Help out. Mothers going through PPD might not feel up for normal activities and may be overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done. Lend a helping hand by washing dishes and clothes, cooking meals and looking after the baby.
Get her out the house. One of the best things for you to help a friend with PPD do is to keep her healthy and active. A 2014 study concluded that a diet of processed foods, being inactive and not getting enough exposure to sunshine are all connected to a higher risk of depression after birth. Suggest going on a morning walk or grabbing a healthy lunch together—it will help her to get a change of scenery and a breather from the stresses of being home.
Recommend professional help. Many women with PPD need professional help to feel better. Psychologists, therapists and support groups can all be beneficial, so encourage her to reach out sooner rather than later.
For other insight into issues facing new parents, check out these blogs:
- Postpartum Depression: It’s Not Just for Women
- Tools to Help Nursing Moms
- Losing the Baby Weight Doesn’t Have to Be a Chore, Make it Fun!
Photo credit: Nick Koch Weiler