Expert Shares Tips To Support Someone Going Through Postpartum Depression

For many women, the days after childbirth may not be as exciting and thrilling as they expected during their pregnancy. In the first days and weeks following childbirth, they may experience a stage of “baby blues” accompanied by mood swings, bouts of crying, and heightened anxiety. In some cases, these symptoms become severe and long-lasting, leading to postpartum depression.

Although a common and treatable mental health condition, postpartum depression is often stigmatized, and many women hesitate to seek help, fearing that they will be branded as a “bad mother.”

During this Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, Raag Malhotra, a psychologist specializing in perinatal mental health and trauma-informed therapy from Santa Clara, California, shares tips to support women going through challenging times.

“Up to 1 in 7 women feel depressed in the first year after having a baby. Postpartum depression manifests in the form of symptoms including changes in sleep and appetite, lack of energy, and difficulty in concentrating, thinking clearly, or making decisions. Apart from being teary, emotional, and angry, women may experience feeling low or numb, they may feel helpless, hopeless, worthless, isolated, and disconnected from others. They may find it difficult to cope and get through the day, and may also have thoughts of harming themselves and the baby,” Malhotra said.

According to Malhotra, there are many things that friends and family can do to support a new mother. It can be simple steps like spending time with her, listening to her without judgment, offering practical help with household chores, cooking meals, or looking after the baby so she can rest.

“Practical support can relieve some of the stress she may be feeling. Remind her to take care of herself, whether it’s taking a nap, going for a walk, or engaging in activities she enjoys. Encourage her to prioritize her own well-being. Offer reassurance and understanding without minimizing her experiences,” Malhotra said.

To encourage someone to seek help, it is also important to normalize it, explaining to her that the condition is common and that many mothers seek professional help to overcome depression.

“Let her know that you’re there for her and that you’ll support her through this challenging time. Let her know that her feelings are valid and that it’s okay to ask for help. Accompany her to doctor’s appointments or therapy sessions if she feels comfortable. Help her research treatment options and provide emotional support throughout the healing process,” Malhotra said.

“Provide the right information and educate her about the symptoms of postpartum depression and the benefits of seeking treatment, such as therapy or medication. Give reassurance that there is no shame in asking for support and remind her that seeking help is a brave and positive step towards feeling better. Emphasize the importance of self-care activities, like getting enough rest, eating healthily, and engaging in enjoyable activities, alongside seeking professional help,” she added.

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