Moms have to deal with all kinds of advice when it comes to being a parent.
Many mothers with postpartum depression are told to “fake it ’till you make it” which is a common psychotherapy practice. And in many cases, it’s a great way of building up a person’s confidence and self esteem. But it’s not always the best course of action and can actually be more dangerous than good. There’s a reason why this advice is best given by a licensed therapist and not just anyone on the street.
Here’s some more information about why the “fake it ’till you make it” advice isn’t always best for managing postpartum depression.
What does “fake it ’till you make it” really mean?
It’s all about pretending. Let’s say a new mother is struggling to bond with her baby or feel any emotions other than sadness and despair. She may be given the advice to “fake it ’till you make it.” What it means is that she should pretend to be happy. She should smile and cuddle with her baby as often as possible. The theory is that acting happy will convince her brain that she actually is happy until eventually she’s not depressed anymore.
I know, right? It sounds ridiculous.
But believe it or not, there is some merit behind this advice. It falls into the same category of things like positive affirmations, self help books, pep talks, or other self esteem building activities. They all work by building up our confidence and helping us to feel positive, empowered and worthy. The “fake it ’till you make it” advice basically says that if you want to be happy, you have to do what happy people do.
Why it’s not the best advice for postpartum depression.
While the practice of “faking it ’till you make it” does work for many people, it’s not the best thing to say to a woman suffering from postpartum depression. First of all, it’s dismissive. Telling a new mother simply to “fake it ’till you make it” is kind of like a slap in the face. It can leave her feeling ignored and neglected and makes light of her suffering. Postpartum depression is a major mental health disorder and being told to “fake it till you make it” treats it as no big deal.
The “fake it ’till you make it” advice is often misunderstood.
It’s not at all about faking a state of happiness in front of other people. But this happens too often, especially among mothers. When someone asks us how we feel following the birth of our child, we hide all of our pain and suffering and fake a smile.
Instead, the “fake it ’till you make it” advice should be focused inwards.
The idea is for mothers to act happy in order to train their ownminds and not to convince anyone else. Smiling in the mirror or dancing and singing to music when no one else is around are ways that we can fake a state of happiness for ourselves and no one else.
“Faking it” can also make it difficult to gauge whether or not your condition is getting better or worse.
The lines between real and fake can start to become blurred. This makes it difficult to tell whether the symptoms of postpartum depression are truly improving or not. If you’re planning to “fake it ’till you make it” you still need to be honest about how you are feeling in order to determine if it’s working.
What to try instead.
Boosting your confidence and re-training your brain to focus on the positive are both very important for healing from postpartum depression. But there are lots of ways to do it.
Without the help of a trained therapist, it can be all too easy for a mother to get stuck in this “fake” world. Postpartum depression already has a way of isolating us from the outside world and keeping us apart from our loved ones. When it comes to mental illness, things can get out of control without warning if left untreated. If you’re considering using the “fake it ’till you make it” method for boosting your confidence, do so with caution and preferably with the help and support of a medical professional.
Too many mothers with postpartum depression or anxiety put off seeking help or getting the care they need.
One reason for this is because they just don’t know where to go or who to talk to. And even if they did know, the idea of leaving the house for appointments can be both inconvenient and terrifying. The good news is that, thanks to modern technology, there are many ways for a mother to get online help for postpartum depression from the comfort of her own home. Not only is it convenient, but it makes it easier to find the right person to speak to. Instead of having to rely on resources available locally, women now have access to an international panel of experts.
Here are a few different ways that mothers can access online help for postpartum depression.
1. Try Online Therapy
One of the best ways for moms to get help for postpartum depression is by speaking to a therapist. But it’s also something that many women avoid doing for several reasons:
It’s tough to arrange for childcare during appointments, especially with a brand new or exclusively breastfed baby.
There is a lot of stigma around “going to therapy” that may deter a mother from choosing to do it in public.
With so many horror stories of mothers being treated like criminals, they may avoid speaking to someone without knowing how that person will react first.
Finding the right therapist can be difficult. It sometimes requires a referral from a doctor, which can delay the process.
Having to make phone calls to set up appointments, get dressed to go out, interact with others socially and feel judged by everyone along the way is an exhausting task for mothers with postpartum depression.
Mothers don’t always feel at their worst between 9 – 5, Monday to Friday. Some therapists might offer an emergency number to call but that would mean inconveniencing someone and mothers aren’t usually down for doing that, no matter how bad it gets.
Online-Therapy allows you to work on cognitive behavior therapy at your own pace. You complete various reading sections and worksheets, like chapters in a text book. Your therapist guides you along the way, providing feedback on your answers and offers support via live chat or e-mail. You also get a variety of other tools and resources at your disposal, 24/7. You can access an online forum for therapy members, yoga and meditation videos, workbooks and more. You get so much more than just a therapy session, and you can do it all right from home.
BetterHelpis a popular online therapy company that works hard to match you with the right counselor. You can complete the online questionnaire as the very first step so that your therapist will have some information about your condition ahead of time.
eVideo Counseloris another great option for moms suffering from postpartum depression. Through their sessions, you can video chat directly with a licensed and HIPAA compliant therapist. You schedule your appointments just like any other therapist office but speak to your therapist using your computer or cell phone. The sessions are much more like traditional therapy sessions and your therapist can send their notes to your doctor for followup.
2. Make a Phone Call
Sometimes, when you are having a really bad day, you just need to talk to someone who understands. A helpline is designed specifically for that purpose. While not technically considered online help for postpartum depression, it’s still something that you can do from the comfort of your own home and have access to 24/7.
If you are having suicidal thoughts and need to speak to someone urgently:
On the Befrienders Worldwide website, you can search for suicide helplines by country. The website is also available in different languages and provides resources and information about mental health.
For general information, support and resources:
Call thePostpartum Support International’s Helpline1-800-944-4773 (4PPD). It’s a messaging system so you would have to leave a message and then someone would get back to you as soon as possible. It is NOT meant for emergencies, but rather, to find out where and how to get help.
3. Send a Text Message
Texting is a newer way that moms can get online help for postpartum depression and many support groups are making this an option. It is so much easier for a mother battling a mental illness to send a text message when she’s overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings, rather than speak to someone over the phone or face to face.
In the US:
Text HOME to 741741 for any type of crisis and a trained counselor from the Crisis Text Line will respond 24/7.
Text HOME to 686868to access the Crisis Text Line in Canada. This text line is managed by volunteers and is a division of the Kids Help Phone.
Text Crisis Services Canada at 45645anytime between 5 pm and 1 am and get a response from someone at the crisis center. A live chat option is also available on their website (also between 5 pm and 1 am).
Many local support groups also offer their own text line, so make sure to find out what they are and store them in your phone for emergencies.
4. Join a Facebook Support Group
Facebook support groups are a great way to get online help for postpartum depression. Not only will you be able to find some posts that you relate to, but you’ll see that you’re not alone in your struggles.
If you’re not big on communicating with strangers, it helps just to read some of the posts and comments. If you have a particular question, you can search for it in the group and see if someone else has already asked about it. It’s a great resource to get peer support and advice for postpartum depression and anxiety.
Some of the groups that I’m in and would recommend:
If you have a question about treatment options, symptoms, previous experiences – this is the place to go to get your questions answered. PSI’s support group is a mix of health care professionals, therapists, sufferers and survivors. If you have a question about anything related to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, you will find it here.
This group is a very supportive one and the perfect place to go and vent about what you’re feeling. If you just need someone to talk to or share your story with someone who will understand, then the women in this group are here for you.
What I love about this smaller group is that you really get the chance to connect with other members. If you’re seeking more than just a sounding board, and hoping to make friends and build a support system to help you through this difficult time, then consider joining this group.
5. Hire a Postpartum Doula
A postpartum doula is someone who comes to your house after you have a baby specifically to help you out. They are not like a nanny, in that, they are there to support you and not simply to take care of the baby and the house. They are trained to recognize the early symptoms of a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder and can direct you where to get help. Most can be hired to work a night shift so that you can get the sleep you desperately need. I consider this a form of online help for postpartum depression because searching various websites is generally the best way to find the right doula for you.
There are several websites you can use to find a doula in your area:
You can search a database of over 10,000 doulas in Canada and the US and the best part is that you can enter the dates when you would need their services to make sure that they are available before contacting them.
6. Download an App
There are so many apps available to help with almost any kind of problem you’re experiencing. Online help for postpartum depression in the form of an app is so convenient and always at your fingertips. Instead of scrolling through social media on your phone, download a meditation or self care app to use regularly instead.
This is part of an important research study but the app provides resources for women with postpartum depression. Read more about it on the Mom Genes Fight PPD website.
MGHPDS (Massachusetts General Hospital Perinatal Depression Scale)
This is a good one for new moms who are concerned about developing postpartum depression or anxiety. It contains questionnaires to assess your mood and stress level and will remind you to take them again every few weeks so that you can document any changes. The questions are similar to those used by medical professionals to check for maternal mood disorders.
This app was originally designed by the military to help patients coping with PTSD. It’s recommended by therapists as a supplement to treatment for stress and anxiety disorders, but it can be a great tool for a mother battling postpartum depression. You have the ability to add happy photos or video memories, favorite songs and quotes and access tools for coping with stress and anxiety.
Practicing meditation and mindfulness are great ways to help with postpartum depression and anxiety. This popular meditation app is easy to use and has sessions ranging from 1 minute up to 10 minutes. It’s perfect for a busy mom with only a few minutes to spare.
Online help for postpartum depression should never be a replacement for help from a medical professional. Always make sure that your doctor knows what you are feeling.
But also, get educated. Know who to call and how to take care of yourself.
When my battle with postpartum depression began, 6 years ago, I didn’t even have a smartphone. Aside from a few brochures that I was given in my doctor’s office, I had very little information about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Now, almost anyone can access online help for postpartum depression. There is so much more information for struggling mothers, that it would be a shame to let it all go to waste.