Support for Friends

How Friends Can Help a Woman with Postpartum Depression

If postpartum depression has affected your friend, you may be concerned about how to support her best. It may feel like she ignores your attempts to help or withdraw 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.

Be Available

As your friend begins treatment, being there for her when she is ready to talk is important. 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 care for 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. Team
Reviewed by:Kimberly Langdon M.D.

Medical Editor

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kimberly Langdon is a Doctor of Medicine and graduated from The Ohio State University in 1991. She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at The Ohio State University Hospitals, Department of OB/GYN. Board-Certified in 1997, she is now retired from clinical practice after a long and successful career. Currently, she is the Founder and Chief Medical Officer of a Medical Device Company that is introducing patented products to treat vaginal microbial infections without the need for drugs. She is an expert in Vaginal Infections, Menstrual disorders, Menopause, and Contraception.

Written by:

Jenna Carberg was diagnosed with postpartum depression following the birth of her daughter in 2016. It was a healthy birth but in the following days, Jenna's mood changed quickly. Doctors suggested that it might be the "baby blues", but her husband Chris suggested she seek a second opinion. Jenna was diagnosed with postpartum depression and began a journey that lasted 9 long months with significant ups and downs. Jenna's mental health care and her experiences became a passion for her to share with the world. She and her husband Chris founded as a support website designed to help women suffering in silence and their loved ones.

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