Support Group Options for Postpartum Depression
An important element of treating postpartum depression is therapy. Therapy comes in many forms, including group therapy settings known as support groups.
Read on for more information about how support groups help those struggling with postpartum depression and where you can get connected with one.
What Are Support Groups?
Support groups are one arm of postpartum depression treatment. They’re especially helpful for mothers, but they can also benefit her partner, friends and family.
Support groups are professionally facilitated meetings between those affected by postpartum depression. The group meetings take place on a regular basis. They are typically led and moderated by a therapist, counselor, psychiatrist, physician or other mental health professional, such as a specialist nurse.
These structured meetings typically cover a number of topics, including:
- Unique personal stories
- Coping skills
- Treatment feedback
- Success stories
How do Support Groups Help?
Support groups are helpful for anyone suffering from postpartum depression. Support groups offer communal encouragement, comfort and advice in a safe setting. Because support groups happen in an inclusive environment, they help those affected by PPD feel accepted, understood and validated in their struggles.
Benefits of Support Groups
There are several benefits of participating in support groups, including:
- Regular and Ongoing Treatment Options
Because support groups take place on a semi-weekly, weekly or bi-weekly basis, they are beneficial in providing consistent and ongoing therapy for those affected. They also help provide stability and routine.
- Access Affordable Treatment
Support groups are an affordable form of therapy. This makes them more accessible to those who are not able to pay for treatment otherwise.
- Build Social Connectivity
Because people facing depression are likely to isolate themselves, support groups build social connectivity between members.
- Receive Emotional Validation
Many people suffering from postpartum depression feel terrible guilt and shame about their symptoms. Support groups help break the stigma and offer validation for the feelings, thoughts and emotions being experienced. This helps those affected to further accept their condition and become more open to treatment and recovery possibilities.
- Participate in a Safe and Non-Judgmental Environment
Suffering in silence with postpartum depression is common. Support groups help to protect members’ identities and provide non-judgemental advice that will never be shared with others, such as family members, friends or employers.
- Facilitated by Professional Health Care Providers
All meetings are led and facilitated by professional health care providers. This ensures that accurate and helpful treatment advice and coping skills are offered by real experts.
- Develop Deeper Understanding of Your Condition
Support groups also help to provide education about postpartum depression so members can better understand how and why the condition is affecting them.
- Learn Healthy Coping Skills
Most importantly, support groups offer practical tools and skills that help members address and treat their symptoms themselves.
Types of Support Groups
Because postpartum depression can affect anyone, not just mothers, there are many types of support groups available to all.
Most commonly, postpartum depression support groups support new mothers as they are the primary group affected by PPD symptoms.
Support groups are also available for fathers and husbands affected by postpartum depression. While not as a common, it is important for husbands and fathers to be provided with support and resources to prevent them from suffering in silence.
Depression can affect entire families and social circles. Postpartum depression support groups are available for family members or friends of mothers battling postpartum depression. This can be valuable if loved ones are suffering from depression as well, or if they are seeking information on how to help and support the affected mother.
An unfortunate but common outcome of postpartum depression is marital problems. Support groups are available specifically for couples facing postpartum depression. These groups provide helpful advice and encouragement to new parents. They’re beneficial if you are experiencing marital challenges, seeking better communication or looking for healthy ways to support each other.
Where to Find Support Groups
Traditionally, support groups are held in physical locations with individual chapters in local settings. Local support groups can be held by mental health clinics, women’s health clinics and family health clinics. They may also be offered by a variety of public, private and nonprofit organizations.
Specialized postpartum depression support groups may be offered to groups, including:
- Spanish-speaking mothers
- Unwed/unsupported mothers
- Mothers facing addiction and substance abuse
- Military families
- Other specific circumstances
Postpartum depression support groups are available in most states. Check your state’s official website to find links to health organizations and information on depression support groups.
National organizations that offer professional postpartum depression support resources:
- American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Women’s Health
- Mental Health America
With today’s online environment, internet support groups are available in the form of chats, message boards and forums.
Online postpartum depression support groups include:
- Postpartum Support International Online Meetings
- Smart Patients Postpartum Community
- What to Expect Postpartum Depression Discussion Forum
If there are no postpartum depression support groups in your area, look for general depression support groups. Postpartum depression is one type of depression. While the causes may be different, the symptoms and treatment options are similar.