Written by Jana Angeles
Postnatal depression (PND) is an illness women may go through after they have given birth. It disrupts the dynamic of their relationships with their family and friends and can prevent the mother from bonding with their newborn in the early weeks, which is most crucial to their own development.
With symptoms such as having mood swings, loss of appetite and experiencing bouts of anxiety and panic attacks, PND is serious and any signs of having it needs to be treated immediately. If you have a friend or family member going through PND, what steps can you take to remind them that they have your full support during this tough battle of depression?
Listen to them when they share their thoughts and feelings
Having PND is not easy and your friend or loved one may be experiencing negative thoughts and feelings. Create a comfortable environment for them and do your best to listen when they choose to express what they are thinking or feeling. This is a great way for them to let out anything that is weighing on their mind and opens up a path of trust between you and them. Expressing their inner thoughts and feelings can be a healthy way for them to avoid bottling up. Listening is a great way for you to subtly let them know that you are available if they need someone to just talk to and hear them out.
Send them positive texts
Maybe your friend or loved one isn’t comfortable talking on the phone with you and that’s okay! However, don’t underestimate the power of a positive text to let them know you’re there if you need anything. Simply sending them a positive text of encouragement can be what they need to get them through their mood swings or feelings of sadness. It also reminds them that they have someone that they can rely on when they need to feel inspired and positive again. Be creative when it comes to texts and write thoughtful ones which combine some of your favourite motivational quotes.
Make them food and deliver it to their house
Your friend or loved one with PND may neglect simple household duties such as cooking, cleaning or undertaking the usual errands that need to be taken care of. It’s not their fault that they are feeling this way and it can be overwhelming for their partner or other children that they aren’t able to do this. There is no act of kindness too big or small and making food (dishes they personally like) and delivering it to their house could be what they need to take the stress off from their family. We all know that cooking from the heart can go a long way and preparing a meal for them will save the family time and money as well.
Encourage professional help
No matter how supportive you are to your family or loved one going through PND, you need to remember there’s only so much you can do when it comes to helping them. If they still continue to put themselves down, neglect normal household duties or generally not taking care of their physical and emotional wellbeing, it’s time to talk to them about getting professional help.
Therapy is encouraged because professionals within the mental health space can help your friend or loved one have a confidential conversation about what they’re going through, encouraging them to see a different perspective from the negative thoughts they may be feeling at the time. There are also support call centres such as Lifeline (13 11 14) and PANDA (1300 726 306) where they can contact a counsellor immediately if they just need someone that they can talk to about their PND and the next steps they need to take to be on the road to recovery.
Be there even if the going gets rough
Despite the challenges of having someone in your life going through PND, don’t quit when you feel like no progress is being made. Yes, it can be difficult trying to talk to someone who won’t budge from their negative train of thought but you being there when they are in this state matters more than you know. Being a good friend and listening when they need you counts for something. We all go through our rough patches so sometimes it’s good to remind yourself that they would do the same for you if you were experiencing something similar.