6. Who did you talk to about your postpartum depression and what was their reaction?
I tried to talk to my husband but I hated the way he felt so sorry for me and just didn’t know what to do. I felt like I was burdening him. So I talked to my family doctor. He was very empathetic and supportive and called my husband into the room and told him “this is not her fault – she cannot control it” and then it was easier for me to talk to him after that. – Vanessa
The first person was my sister, who was nothing but supportive and wanted to do anything to help me. – Anonymous
My health visitor was wonderful, she had her suspicions for a while but I wouldn’t tell her anything. She organised specialist support out of area as I couldn’t access services at work. She was just lovely. She made sure I knew that she didn’t think I was a bad mum, she kept pointing out how good my bond was with my child despite it all. – Alexandra
I talk to my sister in law, my doctor and midwife. Their reaction was, medication, go get help, my sister in law didn’t help much. It wasn’t until I attempted suicide that people realized how serious this was. – Amber
My husband is the only person that knows my struggle. He is so supportive even on the days I feel like giving up. – Anonymous
Anyone who would listen. They were concerned but it never felt like I reached anyone who understood. No one was shocked. I guess there was zero reaction really. Except my husband. He was genuinely concerned and wanted to help me feel better. – Nicole
I have talked to several friends and my therapist. They were very supportive and understanding. Most were by surprised because they had experienced something similar. – Anonymous
My doctor said “you have a lot of anxiety I can see it” when I was being tormented by a dysphoric mania. And said “you have to try harder for your daughter and snap out of it”. When I asked my psychiatrist if I would ever get better, she said “I don’t know, I’m not a fortune teller.” My husband said “its JUST anxiety” as if it was not a big deal but I tried telling people this was different…and it was. I had postpartum dysphoric mania and an agitated clinical depression at the sane time and was basically dying. I begged hospitals to admit me and they got angry and said “just go home and keep taking Prozac” but the Prozac made everything worse, they didn’t believe me. – Brittany
My sister and mom. They were very understanding as my sister just went through it – Jodi
Doctor and understanding. Ordered meds and sent me to behavior pysch MD – Anonymous
My ob/gyn. She was very understanding. – Ashley G.
My mom. She was supportive. – Anonymous
I talked to my doctor finally and her reaction was extremely empathetic and understanding. – Amanda
My husband and he was very worried. – Anonymous
My husband saw it come on very strong at 3 months (I hid other symptoms very well up until then), and he immediately took me to my gyno and my mom came to stay with us for two weeks. – Katy
I was open with my fiance both times. And I pretty much tell everyone. He was pretty supportive although at times he didn’t understand. And other people just don’t get it. You feel very judged. – Samantha
I talked to my husband because he was always asking me why was I crying and I never knew what to say. He said that he was going to help me that I didn’t have to do it alone because I was not alone.– Anonymous
My family and husband do not understand so I started seeing a therapist. – Melissa
My doctor. She was very helpful and gave me anxiety meds and recommended a obgyn who deals with ppd. – Marcella
For a long time no one. Then my husband, then my doctor. My husband encouraged me to get help. I felt brushed off by my doctor. – Anonymous
I talked to my fiance and baby’s dad. He was supportive, would hold and hug me and make sure I knew it was ok. – Emily
My SO first- he didn’t understand. Then my parents. They told me I was overreacting. Finally my doctor, she was very concerned when I broke down at my two week pp check-up. Now, I talk openly about it as much as I can. – Lorena from Motherhood Unfiltered
First my mom, and she kept telling me it was normal and everyone goes through it but I knew it was more than “ baby blues” and then my husband, and he didn’t know how to help me the first time around. The second time around he was much more understanding and helpful. – Chelsea
I knew my husband would understand. He has always understood, or at least listened, to everything I have gone through. I could tell he was trying to be the calm and collected one for me, but was actually really worried. I know he knows I would never hurt the baby, but he does worry about how I take care of myself. He is always checking in with me about it, it helps keep me grounded. – Kathryn
Husband – it was extremely scary for him to think he wouldn’t have a wife or the kids not having a mother – Anonymous
My husband, he didn’t know how to help but wanted to. A support group online, gave advice, and then I brought it up to my doctor and she was happy I found help and is working on helping me – Krista
Husband, who was like “ok take care of yourself then” – Karen from Pregnancy and Postpartum Mental Health of Lancaster County
After my diagnosis, I really only told my family who I think wanted to believe at first that my doctor was misguided, until they came out to visit a few days later and saw the symptoms for themselves. After a few months I wrote a rather raw blog post, and I was overwhelmed by how many mothers shared my experience. It helped me a ton seeing that I’m not alone. – Leah Elizabeth from Lottie & Me
My mom-in-law and she was very informative and supportive. – Jessica
No one. – Theresa
I spoke to my husband and my parents. Now I speak to everyone because it’s my mission to break the silence, but when I spoke up to family, I was told I was just tired. My suffering was brushed off. – Amanda from Mom Like Me
A friend- she told me I was crazy and oppressed and possessed by a demon spirit. – Anonymous
My husband first. His reaction was not so supportive. – Jacqueline from Planning in the Deep
My fiancé , he was supportive and had me go to the doctor to reach out for help – Haylie
They all just knew my son was a “difficult baby” I was aware I had ppd but didn’t really talk to many people about it. – Crystal from Heart and Home Doula
My health care providers and husband. Husband was very supportive. – Anonymous
Husband, doctor, friends. All were supportive – Anonymous
My mom, doctor, partner. All encouraged me to talk to a therapist – Anonymous
My husband- he was well-meaning but somewhat unhelpful at times. My mom- she was a huge source of comfort and reassurance. My family doctor and therapist- both assured me it would get better. – Anonymous
My daughter’s pediatrician, my nurse practitioner and my OB/GYN all handed me referral sheets for mental health practitioners but I couldn’t get myself to call. My husband and mother shrugged. My best friend wanted to move into my house for a week to help (but that seemed overwhelming). – Eda
Asking for help with postpartum depression is one of the toughest obstacles to overcome.
It’s never easy for a mother to admit that they need help. For many women who have never battled with mental health issues before, venturing into the scary and unknown world of psychiatric disorders is terrifying. And our biggest fear is being separated from our babies or pegged as an “unfit mother.” Our husbands, partners and those closest to us often understand because they see us at our worst and know we’re not ourselves. But do they know what to do to help us?
What can we do to change this?
Mental illness will always be scary and daunting. But postpartum depression can be treated and so it’s always important to ask for help no matter how terrifying it is. The more we speak up about it, the less intimidating it will become and the closer we get to ending the stigma. New and expectant parents should learn all they can about postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders so that they can recognize the earliest signs and symptoms. There are so many places that a mother can seek help and advice that there’s no reason she should have to stay silent.