It can be hard to know what to do when someone is struggling. If we think about our own challenging times, even if we didn’t know what help to ask for, just knowing someone was there for us, and that we are not alone, is healing in itself.
How to help a loved one
- Tell your loved one that you want to support them.
- Ask them if they know what might be helpful to them.
- Show them with simple gestures of care – making cups of tea, bringing a glass of water while they are feeding, changing the sheets on the bed and washing them or other household tasks. And importantly, just truly ‘being’ there, undistracted by work or your phone.
- Be consistent – if you offer or they ask you to do a task (for example bottle duty, laundry, the weekly shop, changing nappies, taking bub at a certain time) – do it. If for some reason it is not going to be possible (there is a storm outside and taking bub out isn’t ideal) provide and act on the alternative. There is always an alternative. Remember, sometimes it’s not the job itself, but showing you are in this together.
- Don’t take it personally – when the person we love is struggling with their mental health or presenting symptoms of PNDA, it can be really difficult for a Carer not to take things personally. They may not be capable of managing their impact on others (for now), and reacting can actually damage their mental health further. If you find your loved one’s emotional state hard to tolerate at times, try to reframe it and understand what they are going through. This will help you, and your loved one.
- Remember – PNDA is a temporary and a treatable mental health condition. It is a process, and we mustn’t expect our loved one to ‘get over’ or wake up and ‘bounce back to their normal self’. But with your care, sensitivity and consistency, and often some external support as well, your partner will find their way back to themselves.
Why is it important to support someone you love with perinatal depression or anxiety?
Perinatal depression and anxiety are common mental health conditions that can affect pregnant women and new parents. They can cause a range of symptoms, including sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can make it difficult to cope with daily life and to care for a baby.
Supporting someone you love with perinatal depression or anxiety is important for a number of reasons:
- It can help them to feel less alone and more understood.
- It can provide them with practical and emotional support.
- It can help them to access the treatment and support they need.
- It can improve their long-term outcomes.
Here’s some additional tips from PIRI:
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are many people who care about you and your loved one, and who want to help. Talk to your friends, family, or a healthcare professional about how you can best support your loved one.
- Be patient and understanding. Recovery from perinatal depression or anxiety takes time. Don’t expect your loved one to feel better overnight.
- Take care of yourself. It is important to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally, so that you can be there for your loved one. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly.
Remember, you are not alone. There are many people who have been through what you and your loved one are going through. There are also many resources available to help you. With your support, your loved one can recover from perinatal depression or anxiety.
We’re here, uncover your village.
Visit pmhweek.org.au to find support for expectant and new parents in need.