Postpartum depression affects 1 in 7 new moms and 1 in 10 new dads/partners. These statistics serve to inform, destigmatize, and hopefully usher in greater awareness of maternal mental health issues. However, just being aware of postpartum depression doesn’t immediately tell you how to help someone suffering from it. In many cases, a close family member is the first to notice the symptoms of postpartum depression. But when a loved one recognizes that a postpartum mom, dad, or partner might be in distress, how can they encourage them to seek help?
Here are 4 steps to help a parent in the midst of postpartum emotional distress:
Speak up – Let the postpartum parent know that you’re concerned about them and that you are here to support them. Let them know that you’ve noticed changes in their personality/behavior and that they can talk to you about what they’re going through.
Listen – Give them the space to speak without judgment. Someone suffering from postpartum depression can quickly retreat into silence if they feel judged for the thoughts and feelings they are experiencing.
Encourage – Let them know they are not alone. Tell them that postpartum depression affects many women and men, and that with help they can feel better. Make them aware that without help, postpartum depression can have a devastating impact not only on their mental and physical health, but also on their child and their entire family. But by seeking help, they can stem the tide of distress engulfing them.
Get Help – Take the initiative to help the postpartum parent find a mental health professional who is trained in treating postpartum depression. Make an appointment as soon as possible. The sooner they get help, the sooner they will be on a road to recovery.
If there is an indication that the distressed postpartum parent is at risk of being, or has been a harm to themselves or their child, take them to the nearest emergency room immediately.
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