Support for In-Laws

How In-Laws Can Support of a Loved One with Postpartum Depression

If your daughter-in-law has just been diagnosed with postpartum depression or is experiencing initial symptoms, it can be difficult to know how to respond and how to help. Many in-laws face stresses of their own when they become concerned about their daughter-in-law, their own child, and grandchild or grandchildren.

Below is a guide for parents-in-law to follow to help the mother and her family cope with postpartum depression in healthy and supportive ways.

Stay Connected

Staying connected with the family lets you be informed about your daughter-in-law’s condition and notice any symptoms in your child. Fathers and spouses often suffer in silence when their partner is experiencing postpartum depression. Many fathers are hesitant to share their own struggles for fear of guilt and shame.

As the parents-in-law, be on the lookout for possible depression-like symptoms in your own child so you can help support them as well. By communicating regularly with your family, you can better understand how these symptoms affect everyone involved.

Encourage Treatment

Treatment is important in ensuring that the mother’s postpartum depression symptoms are managed. If she is apprehensive about seeking treatment or unsure of which type of treatment to pursue, encourage her to make an initial doctor’s visit. While you don’t want to pressure her into anything, you can still support treatment options.

You can even suggest other forms of support, such as a postpartum depression hotline, a local support group, or counseling from someone else, like a spiritual leader. She must feel your support, concern, and interest in her well-being and recovery.

Offer Stability

Family households face a lot of uncertainty and instability when a mother is affected by postpartum depression. The house may become disorganized, responsibilities may be dropped and the mother may feel more guilty as a result.

As parents-in-law, you can offer support by being the stability the couple seeks to restore. Offer to set a regular visit schedule, prepare meals, or however they require stability. If you can consistently reassure them, you can prevent and relieve additional stress.

Help With Childcare

Many couples face marital problems during postpartum depression. This has to do with them not deliberately spending time alone together. As the parents or in-laws of the affected couple, encourage them to spend time together without their children.

Offering child care for a day or a weekend relieves stress and guilt they may feel about spending time away from the house together.

Give Them Space

Grandparents naturally love to spend as much time as possible with their new grandchildren. This may be especially true if your family is facing postpartum depression. But it’s important to give your family space as they work through postpartum depression symptoms and find the right treatment course.

Let them know you are willing and able to help — but don’t overwhelm them. Let them come to you when they are ready.

Be a Friend

Instead of acting as a parent, try to see your role as a friend who is there to listen. Let the mother know that you can go for walks, coffee, or get out of the house with her if she needs it. This way, you can still offer support without overwhelming her with advice or concern that she may already be getting from her own parents.

Remember that there is no way to cure or fix the depression that your daughter-in-law is experiencing. Support the steps that she and her spouse are taking to seek help. By remaining positive about her progress and focusing on the fact that postpartum depression eventually heals, you can play an important role in her recovery. 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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