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Postpartum Depression - Part 2

Getting Help and Helping Yourself

Tell your doctor if you're having trouble with postpartum moods, thoughts, or feelings. Let someone else you trust know, too. This might be your partner, a friend, or a family member. This is a time to reach out and accept help and support from people close to you.

In addition to getting treatment for postpartum depression, small things you do can make it easier to get through a difficult time. You might find it helpful to:

  • Take time for yourself. Schedule a babysitter for a regular time. This way you'll be sure to get time for yourself and know that it's coming.
  • Focus on little things to look forward to during the day. This might be a hot shower, relaxing bath, walk around the block, or visit with a friend.
  • Read something uplifting. Since depression may make it difficult to concentrate, choose something light and positive that can be read a bit at a time.
  • Indulge in other simple pleasures. Page through a magazine, listen to music you enjoy, sip a cup of tea.
  • Be with others. Create opportunities to spend time with other adults, like family and friends, who can provide some comfort and good company.
  • Ask for help. Don't shy away from asking for emotional support or help with caring for the baby or tackling household chores.
  • Accept help. Accepting help doesn't make you helpless — by reaching out you help yourself and your baby.
  • Rest. Give your child a quiet place to sleep, and try to rest when the baby does.
  • Get moving. A daily walk can help lift mood. (Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.)
  • Be patient. Know that it may take time to feel better and take one day at a time.
  • Be optimistic. Try to think of small things you're grateful for.
  • Join a support group. Ask your doctor or women's center about resources in your community.

Helping Someone With Postpartum Depression

If you're concerned that your partner or someone else you know is experiencing postpartum depression, it's important to encourage her to talk to her doctor and to a mental health professional. Sometimes a woman is reluctant to seek help or may not recognize her own symptoms right away.

Consider giving the new mom some information on postpartum depression, and offer to read through it together. You might offer to make an appointment for her and go with her if she wants.

Once she's receiving the care she needs, support, love, and friendship are good medicine, too. Here are a few things that you can continue do for her:

  • Check in with her regularly to see how she's doing.
  • Listen when she wants to talk.
  • Go for a walk with her (every day if possible!).
  • Make her a nutritious meal (regularly!).
  • Give her some breaks from housework and childcare responsibilities.
  • Let her take a nap or a relaxing bath while you care for her baby.
  • Be patient, be kind.
  • Believe in her — and remind her of her true qualities and strengths.

Brighter Days Ahead

Like all forms of depression, postpartum depression creates a cloud of negative feelings and thoughts over a woman's view of herself, those around her, her situation, and the future. Under the cloud of depression, a woman might see herself as helpless or worthless. She might view her situation as overwhelming or hopeless. Things might seem disappointing, uninteresting, or without meaning. Keep in mind that the bleak negative perspective is part of depression.

With the right treatment and support, the cloud can be lifted. This can free a woman to feel like herself again, to regain her perspective and sense of her own strength, her energy, her joy, and her hope. With those things in place, it's easier to work with changes, to see solutions to life's challenges, and to enjoy life's pleasures again.

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