How Postnatal Depression Affects Friends and Family
Today, we delve into a topic that not only impacts new mums, but also echoes through their support network - Postnatal Depression (PND). PND doesn't just affect the individual experiencing it; it also has a profound impact on their friends, family, and loved ones.
Understanding Postnatal Depression
Before we explore the effects of PND on a support network, it's crucial to understand the condition itself. Postnatal depression is a type of depression that parents can experience after childbirth. Symptoms can include persistent feelings of sadness, low mood, lack of enjoyment in the wider world, and even frightening thoughts. You can also read a previous blog post we wrote all about Postnatal Depression and what it is here.
Impact on Partners
The partner of someone with PND can often feel confused, helpless, and worried. They may experience:
- Emotional distress: Seeing a loved one in pain and not being able to alleviate their suffering can be heartbreaking.
- Increased responsibility: Partners may need to take on more household chores, childcare responsibilities, and emotional support for their partner.
- Relationship strains: Communication can become challenging, and intimacy may decrease, causing strains in the relationship.
- Risk of depression: Partners are also at an increased risk of depression and anxiety themselves, often called Paternal Postnatal Depression.
Impact on Children
While very young infants may not understand the emotional implications, older children can be affected by a parent's PND:
- Behavioural changes: Older children may become more demanding, clingy, or display regressive behaviour due to a change in the parent's ability to interact with them as usual.
- Emotional distress: Children may feel confused, worried, or scared if they sense something is wrong but do not understand the situation.
Impact on Friends and Extended Family
Friends and extended family members play a crucial role in supporting a new mum with PND:
- Feelings of concern and helplessness: Similar to partners, friends and family may feel worried and powerless. They may not know how best to provide support or comfort.
- Increased support roles: Friends and family often step in to help with practical tasks like cooking, cleaning, or babysitting. This extra responsibility can be challenging to juggle with their own commitments.
Navigating Through the Challenge Together
Postnatal depression can undoubtedly put a strain on a new mum's support network, but it also provides an opportunity to come together, grow, and learn as a family and as friends:
- Education: Learning about PND can equip friends and family with the understanding they need to provide effective support.
- Open Communication: Encourage dialogue about mental health. Talking about the situation can relieve some of the tension and confusion that PND can cause.
- Self-Care: While it's essential to support the new mum, it's equally important for friends and family to take care of their own mental health. This may involve seeking professional help, joining a support group, or taking time out for self-care activities.
- Professional Support: Encourage and support the new mum in seeking professional help. A health care provider can provide a treatment plan, including therapy and medication if necessary.
Remember, postnatal depression is not a solitary journey. It affects everyone around the new mum, but with understanding, support, and professional guidance, it is a journey that families and friends can navigate together. Always reach out to health professionals if you're concerned about yourself or a loved one, and never underestimate the power of a listening ear, a helping hand, or a kind word. At Bullabaloo, we are always here to support and guide you through the challenges and joys of parenthood.
If you wish you to explore more about PND then please visit the NHS website here NHS - Postnatal Depression.