How To Find the Courage to Talk About Postpartum Depression

Most women with postpartum depression know two things – that they should talk about it, and that they don’t want to.

New mothers are bombarded with information telling them that they need to speak up if they just aren’t feeling right.  But they don’t – and for several good reasons.  So how do we bridge the gap between the terrified mothers living silently in darkness and the concerned support system who can only help if they know what’s wrong?

Ending the stigma surrounding mental illness would break down so many barriers.  And more women talking about postpartum depression would help to do that.

The women who DO speak up, are courageous for doing so.  They have decided to ask for help and tell their stories, despite the barriers presented by the medical system and society in general.

Here are some tips for women who want to know how to talk about postpartum depression.


*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.
**Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.


Read About It

Reading the stories of other mothers can help you figure out how to talk about postpartum depression.  Try to read as many stories as you can, because each mother’s experience is different.  You never know which ones will relate to you specifically.  And if you find a story that feels like the author took the words right out of your mouth – then save it and read it over and over again.  Share it on social media or with someone you love.  Let the courage of other woman inspire you to want to share your own story.

Find some stories to read in The Ultimate Collection of Postpartum Depression Stories

Postpartum Depression Blog Posts
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More of a visual person?  You can find hundreds of videos of women telling their postpartum depression stories on YouTube

Write About It

If you want to know how to talk about postpartum depression, then you need to practice what you’re going to say.  Writing it out is a great first step.  You don’t need to be a professional writer nor feel any obligation to share your story with anyone.  Write it just for you.

Write it out on paper, in pen, so that you can’t erase or delete anything.  You can scribble words out but they will still be there like an everlasting reminder that running away from your thoughts doesn’t help.

Write about the bad stuff that you’re too afraid to say out loud.  Write about the sad stuff and keep writing even when your tears soak through the paper.  Write about all the hopes and dreams that haven’t come true for you yet.

When you’re done writing it out – you will want to burn it or tear it up into a million pieces and flush it.  But instead of doing that, find the courage to keep it.  It will help you greatly when you are ready to talk about postpartum depression.

Bonus:  Download and print this free PDF workbook to write about your thoughts in.

How to Start Blogging about Postpartum Depression
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Help Someone Else

Helping someone else who is in the same situation as you are is a great way to learn how to talk about postpartum depression.  One way to do this by joining a private online support group where you can talk more freely with strangers.  Mothers are usually quite honest and open in these groups and ask questions about everything from medications to marriage problems.  If you don’t feel quite ready to ask your own questions, then start by answering one for another mother.

Supporting someone else is incredibly empowering and can give you the courage to talk about your own struggle with postpartum depression.

Here are some online support groups you can join: (I am a member of all these groups as well)

Momma’s Postpartum Depression Support

Postpartum Support International

Postpartum Anxiety Support Group

Postpartum Depression & Anxiety Support Group 

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Talk to a Survivor

No one knows how to talk about postpartum depression better than a survivor.  I should mention that, when it comes to maternal mental illness, there are no REAL survivors because there is no REAL cure.

What I mean by a survivor is:
  • A woman who has lived through the worst of it in the first year postpartum.
  • A woman who decided she needed help and asked for it.
  • A woman who spoke up about what she was going through.
  • A woman who made changes in her life to avoid the chances of a relapse.
  • A woman who has established a treatment plan.
  • A woman who’s mind told her to end it all but she didn’t.

Survivors are still battling the pain of postpartum depression and/or are at risk for a relapse.  But survivors have one thing that you don’t… they have spoken up about postpartum depression and lived to tell the tale.  So find a survivor and ask them how to talk about postpartum depression.

I am a postpartum depression survivor, and I am always available to talk!  You can also join the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide E-Newsletter and get e-mails from me about things that are important to woman fighting the battle.  Plus – you can reply to any one of them to chat with me directly!

Running in Triangles Postpartum Depression Survival Guide
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Don’t Do It Alone

Fighting a battle alone is never a good plan, no matter how much courage you have.  It is much easier to talk about postpartum depression when you have someone holding your hand.  Asking for help with postpartum depression doesn’t always mean asking for medication or therapy.  Asking for help can mean something as simple as helping you talk to someone about what you’re going through.

Who do you want to talk to about postpartum depression?  Your spouse?  Your doctor? Your family or friends?  Find a person or group to stand with you as you do it (physically or virtually).  Having someone else there for “emotional support” can give you the courage you need to speak up, and also hold you accountable so you can’t back out at the last minute.

Online Therapy
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One option to consider if you’d like help to speak openly about your postpartum depression to your family and friends is to access an online psychiatrist.  Thanks to the privacy and anonymity that it offers, you can speak to a licensed professional, on your own time, without anyone needing to know until you are ready.  To find out if this is the right option for you, read up on some more Reasons To Choose An Online Psychiatrist from Betterhelp.com. 

Consider the Worst Case Scenario

Make a list of all the things keeping you silent.  Which one do you fear the most?  Are you afraid you will be treated like a criminal or child abuser?  That your children will be taken away from you, or that your spouse will leave you?  Maybe you’re worried that someone will judge you, say insensitive things to you or avoid you altogether?

Now make a list of all the reasons why you want to speak up.  Are you struggling and don’t know how to cope?  Do you want to be a better mother and wife?  Do you want others to know why you’ve been acting strange?  Do you feel alone?  Are you scared of what you might do?  Contemplating suicide?

9 Reasons Why Moms Don't Talk About Postpartum Depression
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Which list is your worst case scenario?

Don’t wait for something bad to happen before you decide to talk about postpartum depression.  Think carefully about the consequences of staying silent when you should be speaking up.  Talking about it won’t be easy, and neither is battling in silence – but wouldn’t you rather have an army by your side to fight the war raging inside of you?

Make Plans For the Future

Thinking about the future can help you decide how to talk about postpartum depression.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the darkness happening right now, but the future is that light at the end of the tunnel.  Without help or a plan to get better, the future seems bleak.  It seems like a never-ending life of sadness and despair.

Imagine what you want your future to look like.  Do you want to have more children?  Think about watching your children grow up, helping them with homework and taking family vacations.  Aim to achieve it instead of mourn what would be.  So make a 1, 5, and 10 year plan for your life.  Having a future will give you something to fight for.

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The simple act of talking about postpartum depression can feel like an insurmountable task for many mothers. 

The hundreds of reasons for staying silent are completely valid and understandable.  Postpartum depression is a private matter and there is no need for the entire world to know about a mother’s inner most thoughts and feelings.

But the hundreds of reasons for speaking up are also valid.  It will take a lot of courage, and make a person feel exposed and vulnerable.  But it means that you won’t have to fight this battle alone.  And if you don’t have to fight it alone, you have a much better chance of winning.

Don’t wait for someone to ask you how you’re feeling, take matters into your own hands and find the courage to speak up.


Ready to talk about postpartum depression?  I can help you share your story!

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14 Ways to Help a Mother With Postpartum Depression

If a woman in your life has recently given birth then there’s a 1 in 5 chance they are struggling with postpartum depression.

It might be your partner, daughter, sister or friend but no matter who they are to you, it’s normal to feel helpless seeing them in pain.  It can be even more discouraging when you try to help them and they shut you out.  But don’t be offended, mental illness is a tricky situation and displays in many different ways.

From a mother who has battled it first hand, here are a few tips that might help you understand her better and be able to provide the right type of support.

14 Ways to Help a Mother with Postpartum Depression 14 Ways to Help a Mother with Postpartum Depression

*This post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.

1. Know the symptoms

It’s very common for a mother to be in denial about their postpartum depression at first.  Even if she does have her suspicions, it’s unlikely that she will admit it out loud.  This is why it’s important to recognize the symptoms in someone else so that, even if she doesn’t want to talk about it, you can be there to support her.

Resources:

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2. Believe her

There is a lot of stigma around postpartum depression and many people still don’t believe it’s a real disease.  If she does open up to you about having postpartum depression – believe that her pain is real.  She is not being overly dramatic.  She is not “just tired.” Motherhood is overwhelming in general and it will be for a very long time but postpartum depression is different – it’s uncontrollable.

Postpartum depression and anxiety cause a lot of undesirable side effects and symptoms that vary depending on the person.  This can make a woman feel and act like a hypochondriac.

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3. Help her get some rest

Sleep deprivation can aggravate postpartum depression but postpartum depression can cause insomnia so it’s a lose-lose situation.  Do whatever you can to help her rest.  If she cannot sleep at night, then make sure she gets frequent, short naps in throughout the day.  Invest in a new mattress to see if it makes a difference in her quality of sleep.  Here’s an excellent one that you can try for an entire year.

With a new baby, it’s natural and understandable to be sleep deprived.  If you’re having a lot of difficulty getting baby to sleep, consider hiring a sleep training expert.

But if baby is sleeping through the night and mom isn’t, then there’s definitely something wrong. 

Postpartum Anxiety Insomnia: 15 Ways to Get Better Sleep
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4. Don’t tell her things could be worse

It’s natural to want to tell her stories about someone else who had it worse in the hopes of making her feel better but it will have the opposite effect.  Instead of being thankful that she isn’t having suicidal thoughts, she might see her pain as insignificant and feel guilty for having such a difficult time when others are going through “things that are worse.”

It’s still important to make sure that she knows she isn’t alone – as long as she knows that debilitating pain from postpartum depression comes in all forms.

What to Do When Postpartum Depression Makes You Suicidal
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5. Don’t try to explain why

It’s not her fault. But she will try to blame herself anyway.  Trying to find a reason why this has happened can inadvertently put more guilt on her.

Yes, she’s tired, yes, breastfeeding is hard, yes, labor was intense but those are not the reasons why she has postpartum depression.  If labor and recovery were a breeze, baby was nursing fine and sleeping well she could STILL have it.

Knowing that postpartum depression does not discriminate and there was nothing she could have done to avoid it will relieve some of her guilt.

Encourage her to take part in the free genetic research study to help determine the root cause of postpartum depression.

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6. Keep it on the down low

For some reason, having a mental illness is embarrassing.  While it’s important to check in on her and ask her how she’s feeling, don’t put her on the spot or force her to open up about it if she’s not ready.

And definitely don’t go advertising that she has postpartum depression without her permission.  The last thing she wants is everyone at your office knowing about her postpartum depression and offering to help.  She will be mortified if someone she barely knows confronts her about postpartum depression, no matter how good their intentions might be.

It takes time to come to terms with postpartum depression for many reasons.  The more public it is, the more guilt and pressure she will feel about disappointing others.

The day will come when she will openly want to talk about it but it should be her who decides when that is.

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7. Send her a text message but don’t expect a reply right away

Don’t expect her to answer the phone when you call.  Better yet, don’t phone her.  For someone with postpartum depression, their emotions change throughout the day without warning.  Chances are, when you want to talk, won’t be when she wants to talk and vice versa.  A text message is a great way to check in and see how she’s doing while allowing her to reply when SHE feels up to it.  You can even write something like “you don’t have to reply right away – whenever you feel like talking just text me.”

Postpartum depression has a way of making a new mother withdraw from society and it has nothing to do with how she feels about you.

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8. Don’t force her to socialize

And don’t be offended if she doesn’t want to see you.  She’s not trying to keep the baby all to herself.  Going out or hosting visitors means putting on a smile and talking to people when all she wants to do is be alone.  Even her inner circle can be extremely irritating.

In addition to feeling socially withdrawn, many women with postpartum depression also suffer from social anxiety.  She may feel incredibly uncomfortable in public, even in small groups of close friends.

Allow her some time to avoid social interaction, and gradually work your way up to larger social gatherings.  

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9. Cook food for her

Appetite changes are a major symptom of postpartum depression.  She will either not want to eat anything at all or not be able to stop eating. Having a fridge stocked with healthy ready-to-eat food will help her get the calories and nutrition she so desperately needs (especially if she’s breastfeeding) without all the added exhaustion of having to prepare it.

Proper diet and nutrition plays a big role in managing her symptoms, so it’s important to make sure that she has access to healthy food.

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10. Clean the house but don’t make a big deal about it

Do it while she’s napping so she can’t tell you to stop.  Cleaning will be the last thing on her mind but looking around at piles of laundry, overflowing garbage bins or dishes in the sink will cause her more anxiety. It’s one thing to tell her not to worry about the cleaning, it’s another to make the clutter magically disappear.  A clutter free environment will help her mind to feel clutter-free as well.

If you notice that she starts to become obsessed about cleaning, she could be suffering from Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Check out Jordan’s story to see if it relates.

Postpartum Depression, Anxiety and OCD
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11. Get up with her in the middle of the night

If she’s breastfeeding, you may feel like there’s no point in getting up for night time feedings.  But those dark, lonely hours can be the scariest times for a mother with postpartum depression.  If for no other reason than to keep her company – get up with her. She may tell you that she’s OK and to go back to bed but at least get up and check on her – check if she needs anything, rub her feet or her back while she nurses.

Breastfeeding in itself can cause a lot of stress on new mothers.  If you see her struggling, let her know there are online lactation courses available, so she doesn’t need to do it alone.

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12. Help her find strangers to talk to

Don’t try to force her to talk to you about her feelings.  It’s much easier to talk to strangers who understand and won’t judge her and who she may never see or talk to again.  She can be completely honest and vulnerable without having to worry about hurting someone’s feelings or having them take things the wrong way.

Whether it’s an online forum, support group or a therapist – she will be much more comfortable talking to someone who has been in her position before and/or who has experience to share.

Consider signing her up for online therapy.  Via online therapy, she has the ability to work at her own pace and can chat with a licensed therapist from the comfort of her own home.

postpartum depression Facebook groups

Postpartum Support International
Momma’s Postpartum Depression Support Group
Postpartum Anxiety Support Group
Postpartum Depression Awareness

6 Ways to Get Online Help for Postpartum Depression
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13. Take pictures of her

Not happy, dressed up, perfectly posed pictures but real pictures.  Pictures of her nursing in her pajamas.  Pictures of her holding or sleeping beside the baby.  Pictures of her when she hasn’t showered in 3 days and has dried breast milk all over her shirt.  Take pictures of her crying.  Aim for honest pictures of her so that she can look back at them when she is better and remember this part of her life.

You can even make a special photo album filled with pictures of her and baby as a keepsake because she may not remember all these days as clearly.

Reassure her that you will never show them to anyone else or post them anywhere, they are only for her.

16 Gifts that will Boost Anyone's Mood
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14. Wait it out

Don’t try to rush her recovery. Helping her find the right path to recovery is important but don’t keep asking if she’s feeling better yet. If she has a good day, don’t assume she’s past the worst of it.

She may go years without an episode, only to have it triggered by stress, sleep deprivation, illness or something else entirely.  Many women will battle postpartum depression for years, if not forever, so if you’re in this with her – prepare to go the lengths for her.

Know that there is no cure for mental illness, only treatment options to keep it under control.  

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For more information on the recovery process, check out this post: How long does Postpartum Depression Last? Accelerate Your Recovery!


Postpartum depression is one of the most under-diagnosed conditions in North America for a reason.  Women, moms in particular, pride themselves in being able to handle it all and admitting that they are struggling or need help is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome.  While these tips may help the woman in your life open up to you, nothing is ever for certain when it comes to postpartum depression and many women experience it in different ways.  If all else fail – love her and support her and don’t ever give up on her.

Postpartum Depression Survival Guide Free Resource Library
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