Postpartum depression support

What to Say to Someone with PostPartum Depression

Perinatal mood disorders such as postpartum depression can significantly impact individuals who may not even be aware of these mental health conditions.  Through studies and data obtained, 1 in 8 women will develop PPD while 1 in 10 men are affected as well. 

Bear in mind that these studies have been done on a select population and don’t account for people afraid to speak up about what they are going through. 

This brings up the purpose of this article and how important it is to create an effective form of communication and support system for people going through pregnancies and new parents. 

Showing your care for a new father that may have experienced a traumatic birth for example is such a powerful tool for helping them process and validate their feelings.

I will go over different ways of connecting with someone you may feel is struggling with postpartum depression and also supporting new parents who could use some uplifting messages.

Regardless of whether a perinatal mood disorder is present, the challenges of raising a newborn in an ever-changing landscape could benefit from supportive guidance and words of encouragement. 

The bottom line to take away from everything here is how meaningful and life-changing the thought and act of reaching out to someone in times of need is.  We are not here to reinvent the wheel but emphasize and clarify what effective communication and support can do for a parent in need. 

The Role of Communication

When taking the initiative to reach out and provide support for someone battling a perinatal mood disorder, it is important to be coming from a place of love, compassion, empathy, understanding, and sensitivity.  If you lead your communication with these emotions, you have a much better chance of connecting with the individual and creating a safe space for them to be open with their feelings. 

The unfortunate stigma surrounding mental health prevents more people than we know from coming forward and asking for help.  

The pressures that social media puts on parenting create another roadblock for parents that are struggling with postpartum depression to be vulnerable and open with their condition, as they don’t want to be viewed as weak or bad parents.

This is why it is vital as a friend, relative, or even coworker to shed that narrative and reach out to that parent who you have been thinking about and who may be struggling right now. 

Sometimes all it takes is a simple “how ya doing? I’ve been thinking about you lately and wanted to let you know I’m here for you” to impact someone’s day and potentially lead to them changing their story for the better.

What to Say: Dos and Don’ts

Dos:

  • Validate their feelings and what they are going through- all too often people brush aside someone else’s struggles without addressing that it’s okay to be going through this and this too shall pass.
  • Create a safe space for being vulnerable-let the person know that you are coming from a non-judgmental place and are here to listen.

    Understanding that some of their thoughts may seem extreme will put you in a better position to offer guidance and reassurance that they will get through this.
  • Empathize with them-when you can understand where they are coming from and provide that empathetic genuine connection with them, people will tend to let down their guard and feel more comfortable talking to you about the struggles they are going through.
  • Express interest-by asking open-ended questions that encourage conversation, you are showing the person that you care and want to learn more. 

    This also helps the flow of the conversation by allowing the person to talk deeper about their feelings.
  • Provide practical support-as important as it is to talk with someone who is struggling, it is also very important to offer help such as watching the baby or dropping food off.

    New parents may have a lot of pride that keeps them from asking for assistance, which is why sometimes just taking the initiative and telling them you’re dropping off groceries or coming to mow their lawn can take a ton of pressure off the daily to-do list.

Don’ts: 

  • Downgrade their situation-the point of validating someone’s feelings is to assure them that it is ok to feel the way they do and you will get through it.

    Minimizing their feelings like saying “it’s just the baby blues” “you have nothing to be sad about” or “you’re overreacting”  will make the individual feel worse and could put them into a deeper state of depression.
  • Provide unwanted guidance-when someone may just be looking for a person to listen to, it may not be helpful to say things like “you need more sleep” or “focus on your baby more and you’ll be fine”. 

    Sometimes just being present and not saying anything can be the most needed thing at that time for the individual.
  • Comparing them to other people-by bringing up other examples of other affected individuals, this may crush their ego and confidence in trying to work through their struggles.

    Everyone’s experience is unique, and saying “he went through the same thing and was fine” does not make them feel better at all.
  • Making light of the situation-telling them to “snap out of it” devalues the significant struggles that someone could be going through. postpartum depression is a medical condition that requires proper support and understanding and telling someone that they should just get over it creates an even steeper hill to overcome.

    People just don’t “get over it” and by being a supportive and effective communicator, you can help them work through it and understand that the grass is greener on the other side.
  • Using dismissive language-casting aside their feelings and emotions through dismissive language can truly damage someone’s ability to process their feelings. 

    Being told, “this is nothing” or “stop being silly” creates a false sense of hope when in reality a perinatal mood disorder is a condition that should be taken seriously. 

Sample Conversations and Phrases

Now that the dos and don’ts have been covered with effective ways to communicate and support someone who is battling postpartum depression, let’s take a look at helpful phrases and conversations to have. 

The relationship you have with the individual should be taken into consideration with how you talk to them.  

A partner may come from more of a loving and compassionate place whereas a friend could be more empathetic and helpful in practical ways. 

Family members have a deeper understanding of the individual’s history and may offer guidance for situations they have worked through in the past that could help with what they are dealing with now.

Here are some examples of things friends would say:

  • “Hey I made some extra lasagna today and am passing by your house later today and will drop some off!”
  • “I have some spare time tomorrow morning and would love to come by and watch the baby while you do some of your time.”
  • “If you ever need someone to talk to or hang out with, I’m only a phone call away and would be honoured to support you in whatever possible.”

Some phrases a family member could say:

  • “What you are going through is totally normal and not your fault. You are not alone and your family will be here for you the entire time.”
  • “I’m sending you love and positive vibes today and want you to know I have been thinking about you and am here for you whenever you need.”

Here are some examples a partner could use:

  • “You are an amazing parent and inspire me every day.  This too shall pass and I will be here for you throughout this whole journey.”
  • “I am so grateful to have met you and to start a new life together.  We are going to raise an amazing child and what you are going through now is completely normal and does not define who you are.”

Additional Ways to Offer Support

Having a friend, family member, or partner provide an open line of communication and continuous support can alleviate the heavy burden that PPD symptoms can carry.  

However, it is important to understand that postpartum depression is a serious condition and can warrant seeking professional help, therapy, and possibly medication.

Your healthcare provider can be a knowledgeable resource for pointing you in the right direction with seeking professional help.

You can also consider alternative approaches with a coach like myself.  As someone who witnessed a traumatic birth and worked through various symptoms of a perinatal mood disorder, I share an empathetic and genuine connection that will create a compelling future with love, confidence, and gratitude for your family. 

Give it a shot and take 30 minutes and schedule a connection call with me.

Conclusion

I hope this article could shed light on the difference someone can make in someone’s life that is struggling with a perinatal mood disorder by simply taking the initiative and reaching out for support.  

As there are some factors to consider with what you should and shouldn’t say, being there for somebody through a simple call or text saying you are thinking of them and want them to know what they are going through is normal can change the perspective on someone’s life. 

This isn’t rocket science and we all could use a little more love, compassion, and communication with one another, now go make a difference and be there for that person you know is having a hard time!  

Addison Caproni

Enjoy a life of love, gratitude and confidence with your family

5 Proven Steps to Working Through Postpartum Depression

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