Family & Friends

The following information and guidance have been compiled from our friends at Postpartum Support International. Head to their website: for more resources on how you can help your loved one. PSI also offers chats with an expert, peer mentoring programs, help finding local support groups, closed facebook groups.

It can be very confusing, challenging and even painful to watch your spouse, family member or friend react to becoming a parent in ways that you didn't expect. Please know that the person with depression or anxiety is not to blame for this illness and they are just as surprised by what is happening as you are. Thankfully, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders can be temporary and treatable with support and professional help. In this section, we hope to offer you some tools that will help you support the person who is struggling, and also help you get through this difficult time.

Pregnancy and postpartum mood and anxiety disorders affect the whole family. One in ten dads gets postpartum depression and up to 18% develop a clinically significant anxiety disorder at some point during pregnancy or the first year postpartum. Here are some tips that might help you along the way. Remember that you will get through this with help and support. There is no magic cure, and sometimes recovery seems slow, but things will keep improving if you stick to a plan of healthcare, support, and communication.

Common symptoms of perinatal depression & anxiety
  • Feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and insecure
  • Crying spells, sadness, hopelessness
  • Anger, irritability, frustration
  • Repetitive fears and worries
Taking care of your stress and emotions
  • Ask for help, information, and support for yourself. Call or email a PSI volunteer.
  • Develop a support team for your family. Ask for help. Say YES when they offer.
  • Take time for yourself.
  • Talk to other families who have come through this.
  • Spend time with your baby to develop your own confidence.
How to help a new parent
  • Reassure them: this is not their fault; they are not alone; they will get better.
  • Encourage them to talk about their feelings and listen without judgment.
  • Help with housework before they ask you.
  • Encourage them to take time for self-care. Breaks are a necessity; fatigue is a major contributing factor to worsening symptoms.
  • Don't expect them to complete all household tasks just because they are home all day.
  • Be realistic about what time you'll be home, and come home on time.
  • Help them reach out to others for support and treatment.
  • Schedule some dates with them and work together to find a babysitter.
  • Offer simple affection and physical comfort, but be patient if they are not up for sex. It's normal for them to have a low sex drive with depression, and rest and recovery will help to bring it back.
Dealing with their anger and irritability
  • Do what you can to make sure they eat regularly throughout the day, because low blood sugar results in a low mood and frustration. Have healthy and easy snacks on hand.
  • Do your best to listen for the real request at the heart of their frustration. Reduce conflict by telling them, "I know we can work this out. I am listening."
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Verbalize your feelings instead of distancing from them. It is helpful to take a break if your tempers are hot, but do get back to communicating.
  • If they are expressing anger in such a way that you can't stay supportive, you might say something like, "I want to listen to you. I know this is important, but I'm having a hard time because you're so mad at me. Can we take a break and talk about it later?"
  • Ask them how you can help right now. If they don't know, make some suggestions.