Helping a friend with postpartum depression: "How can I be a good friend?"

A PSP parent asked their group what they can do to help a friend with postpartum depression. Also known as PPD or postnatal depression, postpartum depression is a condition a parent may suffer from following childbirth. There is no single cause but it often results from a combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to parenthood and fatigue.


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The poster writes:

 Short Question: What really supported you/your friends when they were experiencing Post Partum Depression?

Long QuestionOne of my closest friends is suffering from very intense postpartum depression/anxiety. She's just starting to get more serious medical care which is good,  but there is also a small crew of 3-4 of her friends who are supporting her by spending time with her, having her spend the night at our house when she needs space, talking on the phone, etc. Two of us are trained social workers, but as you can imagine, supporting a friend feels completely different than supporting a client.
I'm looking for advice/ideas from anyone who's experienced intense PPD or loves someone who has about what kind of support from your friends really helped? What did your friends to to help you along your path to recovery? Especially if you, like me, were also a mother?
Any advice would be appreciated!

 REMINDER:  Post partum depression is just one aspect of a wider variety of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  Understand that it can be more than just depression.  PMADs can involve depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (especially for parents who have experienced traumatic births or post partum NICU stays), bipolar disorder, or, at it's worst, psychosis. Being knowledgeable about the type of PMAD a person is experiencing will help you target the type of help you're giving.



 Babysit, just be around, make a meal: "That sounds really rough. I definitely did not have enough support when shit was hard in the beginning months and have no family here so having friends around is super important.
I would say be there to go on walks together and get out a little bit or just hang out and drink tea, whatever... offer to babysit so she can go get a massage, acupuncture etc. Make them a meal and bring it over... remind her that this is temporary and will pass. Remind her how common it is and that she is completely not alone in this experience and how rough it can be with a new baby... support her in getting evaluated for meds if that ends up being necessary... encourage her to make sure she is well fed and nourished.. make sure she is having her thyroid tested thoroughly... sleep is super important during a rough patch so anything that might help with that is good...
Others in this group have recommended the motherhood center as an amazing resource to get support. I’ve heard really great things.
That’s a random rambling but really hope your friend gets through this time quickly and can laugh on the other side..."


Just listen: "I went through PPD and anxiety (which led to general anxiety disorder) with both of my kids and having someone to listen and not make me feel crazy was super important to help me feel ‘normal.’ Sometimes I just NEEDED to cry and wanted someone to tell me it was going to be ok.
I didn’t have family or friends around when we were in San Francisco so navigating the waters of motherhood/ hormones/etc was difficult and self care became bottom of the list when it should have been #1. Depression can make things feel out of control and everything can spiral downward, so to have a lending hand/ear was something well needed. One suggestion about visiting, etc. is great, if I had someone who would stop by to bring me coffee or walk with me outside that would have put me on the path to getting better A LOT quicker.
Hope your friend starts feeling better soon. It is definitely a lonely place to be, but there is light at the end of the very long tunnel."

 Ensure your friend EATS! "Eat whole and healthy foods as much as possible this impacts your mood. New moms need lots of nutritional support: minerals, vitamins and supplements to help restore strength and balance the hormones."

 Make sure your friend gets professional help: "I had a really rough time the first few months and I think those are all great suggestions above.
I would add that if your friend is the sort of person (as I am) who hates to ask for help, she might overstate how ok she is and say she doesn't need help when she starts to feel a little better. It's been really helpful to me when my friends just forced their company on me or forced me to eat/drink/leave the house. I think it's great to just do things if you ask someone what they need and they say nothing or that they don't know. If you and your friends have the funds, send her a fresh direct order, buy her a massage (there are services where they come to your house and it's AWESOME). Take her to a spa/happy hour/her relaxation method of choice out of the house and arrange the childcare and transportation so she literally doesn't have to do anything.
Also, when I needed to figure something out, like find a lactation consultant or a doctor or something like that that required research it was soooooooo helpful when my new mom friend crowdsourced that info and my husband made calls so I didn't have to. the idea of doing that kind of work was so overwhelming to me. You might do the same for her in looking for therapy. Get her insurance info and call around to find out who's taking new clients, if their hours fit her schedule, etc, so she doesn't have to do all that work on her own.
And be firm with her that she needs professional help and make her get it. Friends and family are great, but she needs to go to therapy, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that!"


Recommended resources:

"I’m so sorry your friend is going through this. I don’t have specific advice, but through work I’ve done in this area, I would recommend reaching out to post partum support international (PSI). They not only think about resources for women suffering from postpartum depression/anxiety but also for family members (and I assume close friend). They may be able to answer some of your questions or point you in the right direction."

Helpful articles:


Further Reading on Park Slope Parents:

Help, Resources, and Advice for Stressed Out Parents, Post Partum Depression (PPD), and PMADs – This article contains resources, questions to ask yourself, interesting articles from across the web, and more.

Words of Wisdom from PSP Members about PPD – This article has the personal stories, journeys & experiences from local parents about how they have dealt with PPD.

Mental Health Check-In for Dads/Partners with The Motherhood Center and Justin Lioi