How Friends Can Help a Woman with Postpartum Depression
If postpartum depression has affected your friend, you may be concerned about how to best support her. It may feel like she is ignoring your attempts to help or withdrawing from your friendship. It is important to note that these are common symptoms of postpartum depression and you should treat your friend delicately during the recovery process.
Here are some tips on how to support and help your friend as she recovers from postpartum depression.
Know the Symptoms
Tension and confusion can build if your once-outgoing friend suddenly withdraws and isolates herself after childbirth. However, this is one of the most prominent symptoms of postpartum depression. Keep in mind that it is not her choice. Her condition is causing her to withdraw from your friendship. She will gradually resume her friendships as she recovers and grows stronger.
As your friend begins treatment, it’s important to be there for her when she is ready to talk. You can support her by letting her know that you care and want to know how she is doing. While you don’t want to force her to talk about her feelings if she isn’t ready, you can remind her of your support by letting her know you are available.
Suggest Social Activities
A great way to support your friend suffering from postpartum depression is to invite her to social events and gatherings. Even if she declines or doesn’t show interest, the invitation can still help her feel included and supported while she recovers.
If she isn’t ready for large social settings, invite her to low-key activities, such as coffee or a walk. This will take the pressure off of having to seem happy, which can cause mothers with postpartum depression to feel guilt and shame.
Attend Support Groups With Her
If your friend expresses interest in attending a postpartum depression support group, encourage her to go by offering to attend with her. Anxiety and depression can limit a mother’s willingness to attend support groups. You may find she will be open to attending by encouraging her and participating as well.
Consider Her Level of Family Support
The ability of a woman to recover from postpartum depression largely depends on the level of support she has in her life. If your friend doesn’t have family or a spouse close by, she will need more support from her friends.
By being aware of this, you can ensure that she receives adequate support from her other friends. A network of support ensures that a woman can recover from postpartum depression.
Encourage Diet and Exercise
Part of recovering from childbirth is ensuring that the mother’s body refuels and reenergizes. As her friend, you can help the new mother take care of herself by encouraging a healthy diet and exercise routine.
Join her for yoga or other workout sessions. Having someone to exercise with can make her more willing to do physical activities.
Helping her shop for groceries, prepare food and try new healthy recipes are other ways to support her and ensure she receives appropriate nutrition.
Acknowledge Her Progress
One of the best ways to help support a friend suffering from postpartum depression is to pay close attention to her progress. If she shows improvement, tell her that you are noticing progress. Point out specific details of the progress you see and encourage her to continue.
You can also acknowledge her progress by telling her you see how hard she is working. Many new mothers with postpartum depression think they aren’t doing enough and feel guilty. By noting progress as she recovers, you indicate the treatment is working. This helps her self-esteem and allows her to recover faster.