Support Group Options for Postpartum Depression
An important element of treating postpartum depression is therapy. Therapy comes in many different forms including group therapy settings known as support groups.
If you are interested in using support groups as a resource for treating your postpartum depression, read on for more information about how support groups help and how and where they are offered.
What Are Support Groups?
Support groups are one arm of postpartum depression treatment that are offered to affected mothers as well as to husbands, friends and families of the affected mother.
Support groups are professionally facilitated meetings that include attendants who are also struggling with 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 involving unique personal stories, coping skills, challenges, treatment feedback, as well as 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 secure and safe setting. Because support groups happen in a non-judgemental and inclusive environment, they help women and others to feel accepted, understood and validated in their concerns and struggles with postpartum depression.
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. It also helps to provide stability and routine in life.
- Access Affordable Treatment
Support groups are an affordable form of therapy which are accessible to those who may otherwise not be able to pay for treatment.
- Build Social Connectivity
Because people facing depression are likely to isolate themselves, support groups build social connectivity between members which is often otherwise lacking in their lives.
- 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 affected people to further accept their condition and open up 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 of the affected.
- 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 that 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 to address and treat their symptoms themselves.
Types of Support Groups
Because postpartum depression can affect anyone, not just mothers, there are a number of specific types of support groups available to all.
Most commonly, postpartum depression support groups support the new mothers who are suffering from PPD symptoms. This is because mothers are the primary people affected by postpartum depression.
Support groups are also available for fathers and husbands who are affected by postpartum depression. While not as a common, it is important for husbands and fathers to be provided with supports and resources to prevent them from suffering in silence.
It is becoming more understood how depression can affect an entire family as well as social circles. Postpartum depression support groups are also available for family members or friends of those affected by postpartum depression. Whether they too are suffering from depression, or are seeking information on how to help and support their loved one, support groups can be valuable for anyone feeling the struggle of PPD.
An unfortunate but common outcome of postpartum depression is marital problems. That’s why support groups are available specifically for couples facing postpartum depression. Whether you’re experiencing marital challenges, seeking better communication or looking for healthy ways to support each other, couples support groups can provide helpful advice and encouragement to the new parents.
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, family health clinics as well as a variety of public, private and nonprofit organizations.
Depending on the organizer, specialized postpartum depression support groups are offered to groups such as Spanish-speaking mothers, unwed and unsupported mothers, mothers facing addiction and substance abuse, military families, or other specific sets of circumstances.
Multiple postpartum depression support groups are available in most states. Check your state’s official website for links to health organizations and more information on depression support groups.
Here are some 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. Here are some online postpartum depression support groups:
- Postpartum Support International Online Meetings
- Smart Patients Postpartum Community
- What to Expect Postpartum Depression Discussion Forum
If there are no postpartum depression support groups specifically in your area, look for general depression support groups. Postpartum depression is one type of depression, and while the causes may be different, the symptoms and treatment options are generally the same.