“It took some time to open up, but once I did, it was such a relief.” One mom’s story shows how support networks can help those suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety. Moms who have found the value of reaching out to their peers are also sharing stories of the comfort they’ve found from support networks. Celebrities sharing their experiences have helped to shine more light on the condition.
If you’ve been suffering from postpartum depression or similar feelings, be sure your doctor knows about your symptoms, and consider whether a support group might offer some relief.
You will likely find that a good postpartum depression support group helps you achieve the following:
Have a Safe Space
Many mothers feel embarrassed by the feelings of depression they experience after giving birth. Feelings of shame and guilt are also common. A support group offers a safe space where mothers can open up about what they’re really feeling—without fear of judgment.
In the midst of their depression, many mothers are unable to see all the ways in which they are dealing well with their new motherhood. Hearing about strengths from other group members increases self-esteem and gives mothers the confidence to take actions that might have seemed daunting.
Postpartum depression often feeds on isolation. Left unaddressed, negative thoughts and feelings tend can grow and take over. Talking through these thoughts and feelings aloud sometimes helps them seem less overwhelming.
Increase Knowledge and Skills
Postpartum depression isn’t caused by the difficulties and stresses of dealing with a new baby. But it isn’t made any easier by them. Hearing the experiences and solutions that other mothers have used with their newborns can make the going a lot easier for everyone in the group.
Let Go of the Motherhood Role
Mothers who move beyond their postpartum depression often talk of letting go of an externally imposed motherhood ideal and creating their own individual idea of what it means to be a mother. The support group can both introduce and continue this discussion of what a mother believes she’s expected to be and who she truly is.
Each mother’s journey is her own. You may find a support group to be helpful for coping with your postpartum depression. Or you may decide, with the help of your doctor, to find another solution. Whatever path you choose, take some comfort in knowing that you’re absolutely not alone.