Tips on how you can support them:
- Focus on providing practical help and gentle emotional support. Try and listen when your loved one expresses difficult or uncomfortable feelings or thoughts without jumping in to ‘fix it’, minimise it or ‘make it better.’
- Ask your loved one what help might be useful for them. Avoid the temptation to rush in and take over.
- Encourage your partner, friend or family member to open up to their GP, midwife, obstetrician or child health nurse – or call PANDA’s National Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Helpline 1300 726 306.
- Perinatal anxiety and depression affects every area of wellbeing: motivation, decision making and view of self and others. It is probably not the best time to make big life decisions about things like your relationship, career or house.
- Looking after your own physical, emotional and mental health is crucial if you hope to provide ongoing support to your partner, friend or family member with perinatal depression or anxiety. Exercise, a healthy diet, limiting alcohol consumption and sufficient sleep all make a difference.
- Seek and accept offers of practical help from family or friends.
'Once my wife and I started working together again, we made rapid progress to getting me back on track.'
Why it can be difficult for your partner or loved one to ask for help
It’s easy to feel confused or frustrated if your partner or loved one seems reluctant to seek help. However, it’s important to understand that their reluctance to reach out is often due to fear and misconceptions about perinatal anxiety and depression.
Some reasons your partner or loved one might be reluctant to seek help include:
- They might not know what antenatal or postnatal anxiety or depression is and how it is different from the normal struggles of being a new parent.
- They might not be ready to acknowledge that they are not coping.
- They might have difficulty putting painful feelings or scary thoughts into words.
- Depression itself might stop them from seeking help. Low energy and low motivation can make it difficult to reach out.
- They might be feeling guilt and shame that that they are not happy about a new or expecting baby.
- They might believe having perinatal anxiety or depression means they cannot be a good mother or father.
- They might be frightened they will lose the baby, be put into hospital or put on medication.
- They might have previously had a negative experience with a doctor or health provider.
- They might believe they should be able to just ‘get over’ how they are feeling and ‘push through’.