Walking With a Friend Through Postpartum Depression

5 tips for helping a new mom who may be struggling with depression.

It’s likely you know someone who has battled depression, perhaps postpartum depression specifically.

In my late teens and twenties, I experienced the dark, hopelessness of depression. Generations of women in my family have dealt with mental illness, so I won’t be surprised if it impacts my daughter as well.

Thankfully, through medication, counseling, and my faith, I was able to develop strategies to cope with the depression and I have been mostly free from its stranglehold for many years.

Though I still face seasons of melancholy, I am able to recognize and manage it.

And I can honestly say that I’m thankful for the struggle because it has given me the unique opportunity to empathize with those who battle it, as well. And if my daughter does in fact have to deal with depression some day, I will know how to help her.

Surprisingly, I did not have postpartum depression, but I know the profound difference a companion can make in the struggle. If you desire to walk with your friend through postpartum depression here are some thoughts that might help:

1. Be a quiet companion.

Depression can be isolating, lonely and confusing. It’s difficult to wade through the mire to express a need.
Don’t expect someone that is struggling to ask for help. Just show up with a meal or a treat and be ready to listen or do something practical around the house like hold the baby or do the dishes.

2. Don’t try to fix or talk her out of feeling depressed.

Depression can seem illogical to those who have not experienced it. So don’t attempt to cheer her up or get her thinking about happier things; your presence will do that if she feels she can be herself.
Don’t make her feel bad for being in her pajamas for the 4th day in a row, just offer to help with the baby while she takes a hot shower. Be sure to respect her desires even if they don’t make sense to you.

3. Be ready to invest consistent time.

Recruit several girlfriends to visit on a regular rotation. Set up a meal plan for the family every couple of days and make sure someone is consistently visiting.

4. Encourage your friend to seek medical attention, sooner rather than later.

We are lucky to live in a time when medications are available to compensate for the chemical imbalance that can lead to depression.

5. Depending on where you live in the country, winter months can be harder because of the cold and dark weather.

Even if it’s chilly, encourage her to go outside for a brief walk and fresh air. Read this article for tips on bundling up the baby.

We were created to need community. It is a beautiful thing when moms support each other through hard times, even when we can’t fully understand. But we all know pain to one degree or another and we also know the relief a dear friend can bring.

Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman is the co-author of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” She is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom who enjoys traveling, hiking in the mountains, and creating memories together with her husband and little girl.

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