Grief Journal Relationships

Postpartum Anxiety And Depression: How To Be A Good Friend

Postpartum Anxiety And Depression: How To Be A Good Friend www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Maria Hatch

Recently I wrote an article titled Postpartum Depression: 5 Things to Save a Life. Your responses were impactful: 

“I’m embarrassed and so ashamed to talk about it, to tell people I have it.”

“I wanted to be able to just fix it myself but I couldn’t.”

“I loved your post. I am in the middle of it right now.”

“My husband would say he missed the old me.”

“I didn’t know where my old self-had gone.” 

“I felt like something was wrong with me because none of my friends experienced this.” 

My friends, this is something very real that is often overlooked or made light of because let’s face it, we tend to think if we have enough will power we can just “will” our way out of this. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there is no amount of positive thinking that can fix this disease. We aren’t talking about a bad day or bad week, this is a mental illness and women who suffer from postpartum anxiety or depression are, every day, waking up to fight a battle of the mind. My last piece was for you, the woman silently suffering through this disease. Today, this piece is for you, the friend of the woman suffering from postpartum anxiety or depression. Below are three ways you can be a good friend and love your friend well during this time of suffering she is experiencing. Don’t underestimate these three action steps because you just may help save her life. 

Pick up on behaviors and subtle things she says: when your friend is suffering from postpartum anxiety or depression, you may notice behavior changes. These changes may be subtle so you really have to be intentional to pick up on them. One of the biggest giveaways with postpartum anxiety is a mind constantly filled with worry. Someone suffering through postpartum anxiety is constantly worried about everything and you will most likely hear about it, so make sure you notice. If they are like me, they will try and downplay the severity by making it into a joke or passively bringing it up. It may not seem like they have a serious illness but please take any worry they mention seriously. Someone suffering from postpartum depression most likely will want to isolate themselves from you, so don’t take it personal if your friend isn’t being a good friend right now. They may always have a reason they can’t come to something or you won’t hear from them as much, so be sure to take notice. One thing is for sure, anxiety and depression are like bullies that want to keep your friend isolated so they can’t get better, so they can’t heal. Help them heal by being around them, even if they don’t want you there. This is a part of the process they need and they most likely don’t know they need it, so be help them by being there.  

Show up at their house and go on a walk: Full disclosure, telling your friend that going on a walk will be good for them right now will probably make them want to punch you in the face, but you’re the friend so they will smile and act like they agree with you. Go on a walk with you friend and don’t ask them if they want to instead ask them what day they can go and what time. They mostly likely won’t believe a walk is going to somehow help tame the beast inside of them, but that’s ok because they don’t need to believe but just do it. The best way to combat anxiety and depression is being around people and being outside and exercise. A walk is going to conquer all of that! 

Remind her you are still here and are her friend: Right now she may feel like she is nothing but a burden to everyone around her. She may not vocalize this, she may not act on it initially, and she may even be really good at silencing this feeling for quite some time. The problem is, it’s a feeling most (if not all) women who suffer through postpartum anxiety and depression face. It’s often assumed women who silently suffer do so because they are embarrassed and while that is partially true, the more appropriate reason women silently suffer is because they feel like a burden. Your friend needs to know that you still love her and like her and that you can handle her just as she is because here’s the scary truth, women can only go on living for so long feeling like such a burden. I can’t imagine women who have taken their lives because of postpartum anxiety or depression did so because they wanted to die. Instead, they were women who loved their family deeply and wanted to live fully but couldn’t and even though postpartum anxiety and depression are just a for a season such as 1 month, 2 months, 5 months and on, this is a long time to daily suffer from this disease. Please, if you do one thing let it be continuing to remind your friend that she is not a burden to you because you may be the only one she is hearing that from, and she needs to hear it. 

Friends of women who suffer from postpartum anxiety and depression, let’s be present in our friendships enough to know when subtle changes in behaviors are actually big changes and how to be there for our friends so no woman has to silently suffer through postpartum anxiety and depression. Gone are the days where this is not talked about. It is time to speak up, speak out, and save lives! No woman should feel so lost, so hopeless that their best option is to end their life. Enough is enough!

About the author

Maria Hatch

My name is Maria. I’m a wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, and excessive hair twirler. I’ve known the depths of grief and the height of God’s love and some time in there fell in love with Him, and I love to talk about it. On June 24, 2011, my life was forever altered and I’ve never been the same since. I invite you into my journey through my writings. Find my website at http://awomannamedfree.com/

  • Candy Kage

    Glad to see you being brace enough to share this very important subject. Keep spreading the word

  • Great tips! It can be so hard to know what to do to help!

  • lexi

    I love the idea of showing up and going for a walk. This is all such smart advice.
    xx Lexi, Glitter, Inc.

  • Melissa

    Thank you for sharing this! I have not been through this, but I know others who have so it is really helpful to get some tips on how best to support them.

  • Loved this post. I have anxiety disorder in normal day life and after my two babies it went through the roof! Now I am 6 weeks out from baby number 3 and I am terrified to walk that road again because its like melt fund oh so hard!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this! It’s hard to talk about but we definitely need to open the conversation!

  • This such a helpful post. This post really helps me interact with those I know who have been through it. Thanks for posting!

  • Raising Twincesses

    This is such an important post! There’s no reason why women need to suffer and be ashamed to talk about it! And a friend who is willing to talk may seem small but could be such a great help for some!

  • Anna Strazi Thompson

    This post is so moving and so important for everyone to read. It is so important to look out for one another and the signs that many women show when dealing with postpartum depression. Thank you for sharing.

  • Chanel van Reenen

    This was so beautifully written! Thank you for sharing some tips on how to help our friends in need!

  • Beth Newcomb

    Love these suggestions! Thank you for tackling this issue and for giving tips for how to be a supportive friend. I have quite a few of mine going through tough times right now.

  • Katie

    I will remember all of these suggestions. This is an incredibly important topic and I thank you for sharing it. Your words are inspiring and powerful. Great writer!

  • This was such a great post! Thanks for sharing! I suffer from anxiety and depression, and have a tendency of not being present in my friends lives because of it. I never want to be a burden to them and in turn it comes off as me pushing people away. It’s a daily struggle that is really difficult to work through.

  • Eryka Spera

    It’s hard to suffer from anxiety and have friends that just don’t get it. This was a great read! From a fellow anxiety sufferer

  • Jessica Koza

    Such a great post! Thank you for sharing your experience and educating others.

  • Great tips! I always try to be there for friends post birth. I’ve had a few rough patches and there were many times that I wish I had more friends that understood or were there for me.

  • Ashley McClellan Houston

    Love this article. I’m sharing it because I’m so fearful of this with my second pregnancy

  • honestly, I feel like these tips are so important for any relationship, no matter what your friend may be going through! but especially post-birth… it can be such a lonely and scary time. thank you for sharing this!

  • this is so powerful and thank you for all these tips friend! xoxo

  • Terryn Winfield

    What a beautiful post. You hear about postpartum depression and anxiety more lately, but it isn’t about how to see it in a friend. I have dealt with it in various degrees and your advice is spot on.

  • Lyndsey Piccolino

    thank you for sharing!! there are so many women who suffer.

  • Heather

    I don’t know that I had full on depression but I definitely didn’t feel like myself and had baby blues+ lots of tears. So important to show up for those friends the way mine did for me!

  • Such a heartfelt message that is important for anyone to hear. I’m glad to see people like you talking about a very important topic.

  • Tori | The Nurture Collective

    Thank you for sharing, this is such a good message. Dealing with depression and anxiety it is great to see other people talking about it. What a great message!

  • Happiestmama

    Such a great post! PPD and anxiety is so prevalent, all women should know the signs to watch for in our friends!

  • WOW this is super powerful. I’m yet to be a mom myself, so it honestly scares me if/when/how it could happen to me. I’d be so nervous of my husband’s reaction and friends…it’s just hard. I can’t even imagine. Thank you for writing so openly and courageously.

    Coming Up Roses

  • Kristen

    These are really great tips! I had post partim anxiety and it was awful! I cried every time the baby cried – which was all day long!!

  • lesliekweesner

    Love all the tips. I also suffered PPD with my first.

  • Christina

    I was so blindsided when I went through it fourteen years ago. One of the best things that helped me was saying out loud to horrible thoughts, “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.” It calmed my anxiety because I knew if He said it, it was true. I know that saved me from dwelling on scary, intrusive thoughts that seemed foreign to who I was. I also think those who have gone through it, should share about it and let other new moms know they are available to help. I felt so ashamed that I didn’t know who I could tell because I didn’t want them to know I had those kinds of thoughts.

  • DrDaisy Sutherland

    Thank you so much for sharing this post. It’s so important to have someone to speak with that won’t judge. I never had anyone to speak to and can tell you it was very difficult..it then continues to grow and after menopause can see the signs creeping back in. All I can say is having someone in your corner is essential.

  • Such good examples of how to put love into action. I lived far away from a longtime friend when she was experiencing severe PPD. All I could do was listen and help her figure out what to write down to hand to her doctor were all I could do–but it made a difference, even from afar.

  • Great tips! I’ve struggled with post partum depression (although I didn’t know what it was at the time) and anxiety as well as regular depression and anxiety and it seems like most often the friends all disappear when you are going through that-which really just makes it worse. So even if your friend isn’t much fun to be around try to stick it out because they NEED YOU!

  • Kayla Waite

    Great article. Sometimes I think we forget that every post-partum experience is different and can show up in many forms. I can’t tell you how many times I heard “It will be ok” from family and friends. When really, all I wanted was to have someone hold my hand, listen and pray with me. I could have totally benefited from a quiet walk with my best friend.

  • Hyla @hylaandpeterechols.com

    I really like the tips you give us as the outsider to be encouraging and as helpful as we can be when a friend is going through something like this.

  • Dawn

    This is incredibly powerful, and something I think we can all benefit from. More than likely most people have known someone who suffers from this issue, and we struggled with how to help them. I know I certainly could have used these tips when my friend was suffering last year. Thanks for a great post!

  • Wow. What an important post. Post partum anxiety and depression can look so different and it’s so important to not judge people because we never know what they are experiencing. Great tips.

    Rachel | The Confused Millennial

  • Sweet honest here. It’s important for us all to remember these tips. Thank you for writing this.

  • Karen

    So good. The only advice I question is the walk suggestion, depending on the severity of the symptoms. I was too far gone. I didn’t need a walk; I needed someone to drive me to the hospital. Forcing me to go on a walk using strength I didn’t have would have paralyzed me for the entire rest of the day (or several days), leaving me completely unable to take care of my children (more than I already was).

    But you are right on about feeling like a burden. I experienced antenatal depression followed by postpartum depression, so after 12 full months of feeling like I was ruining my family’s life, I was finally hospitalized on suicide watch when my baby was 8 months old. They say mothers who commit suicide are selfish, but anyone who says that clearly hasn’t been there. I didn’t want to die as a way out for me, but for my family. It felt like the ultimate sacrifice to spare my family… from me. And that is why this illness is so scary, because it can convince sufferers to believe that suicide really is what’s best for her family. For me the difference is confusing myself with my illness. *I* was not a burden on my family; my *illness* was. And the best way to remove the burden is to remove the illness, not the person. I am not my depression, and I will never make that mistake again:

  • Tiffany Houseman

    I agree PPD needs to be more talked about, the taboo marking on it removed. I have struggled with this also and blog about it over on my page. Even though it is a terribly isolating disease, I thank God for it, because now I can relate to every woman who has ever struggled with it. We can only make a difference if we make a point to make a difference! Thanks for sharing these tips. <3

  • Kristin Davies

    Such a great post, and you’re right it is very real! I had a lot of anxiety plus I was REALLY short fused, like I just couldn’t cope with everyday little things. I still feel like that sometimes. Being a mother is tough.

  • these are such great points! i had no idea what i was walking through at the time. we moved to a new place, and i had a lot going on so it was pushed aside. i wish someone would have recognized some of the symptoms. it was less obvious than i thought!

  • Lindsay Katherine

    THIS IS SUCH A GREAT POST!!! It can be confusing or awkward if you don’t know what your friend is dealing with – you don’t know what to say, if you should say something, or if you’ll make it worse, but hopefully people will read your guidelines and help a friend in need.

  • Janella Panchamsingh

    These are the types of friends that are needed to support this illness. Women are strong but we always need to be loved on when times are to hard for us to cope with.

  • Chanel van Reenen

    thank you so much for sharing this post! it can definitely be hard trying to find the right words to say!

  • Family First Mom

    Thank you for this, I have a 7 month old and have a friend who is having a much harder time than I did. I needed some guidance on how to be there for her!

  • Jody Katter

    I had postpartum depression really bad with my two year old and my anxiety has been off the charts with my 6 month old. This is great girl. People need to be so aware of new moms. Thank you for this.

  • Thank you for giving us some action-points to help others!

  • taylorxo

    Loved this post. PPD is very real and I can only hope that everyone, including doctors, become more aware of the symptoms and signs.

  • Suzanne Hines

    This is excellent and just what I needed to read! I think social media plays a huge role in misleading us to think that our friends have it all together, when they are actually struggling deeply.

  • Thank you so much for sharing. Getting PPD was and still is my biggest fear after giving birth.

  • Mary Welby

    IT’s so important to make sure friends with PPD or any kind of mental illness know that you are there and safe place for them to go to. These are great tips on how to be there for the people in your life.