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The Benefits of Postpartum Depression Support Groups

written by: Debbie Roome • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 7/13/2011

Support groups for new mothers can be a vital part of their recovery from postpartum depression. Read on to learn more about how these groups operate.

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    What are Support Groups for Postpartum Depression

    Postpartum depression support groups are available in most large towns and cities and can make a huge difference in the way women handle the depression that sometimes occurs after childbirth. For those that live in more isolated areas, there are online support groups who also do an excellent job in assisting new mothers.

    Face to face support groups are sometimes affiliated to hospitals or baby clinics. Others are run by health professionals who may work together with recovered mothers to support those who are currently experiencing postpartum depression. In some cases, small informal groups gather as friends with babies of a similar age support those who are feeling depressed. The groups may meet once a week, biweekly or monthly and often have a support person available for telephone counseling and support.

    Online support groups are run differently as all communication is done via the internet. Because they don’t have physical boundaries, they often have a larger membership than face to face groups. Women from many different countries may belong to these groups and for this reason there is normally someone online at any time of day or night. This can be an advantage for a woman who is feeling blue in the middle of the night.

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    What Happens at a Meeting of a Support Group for Postpartum Depression

    Face to face support groups vary from place to place but most will offer similar services and assistance. All should require confidentiality from their members so that the mothers feel safe when talking about their problems. A typical meeting would include a time of social interaction with refreshments and snacks, a time when women can share their triumphs or struggles over the previous week, and a time of input by a health professional about an aspect of postpartum depression.

    Online support groups generally have links to articles and helpful websites that teach about various aspects of postpartum depression. Members usually have a user name which means their identity is hidden from other users. This can give them freedom to really share their hearts which can be a step towards healing. These groups don’t have meetings as such but offer online chat rooms and forums where members can communicate and make suggestions.

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    How can a Support Group Help You?

    Women who participate in support groups for postpartum depression normally find them to be of great benefit. In a face to face group, they are among people who understand the situation they are in and the emotions and sadness that may threaten to overwhelm them from day to day. There will also be mothers there who are at various stages of recovery. Those that are almost back to normal feel good that they can encourage those who are the beginning of their journey. Those with newborns can listen to stories from those who have lived through some dark days and have come through smiling. A postpartum depression group will change from month to month as new people come in and those who have recovered move on to a different stage of their life.

    Online support groups are also helpful and are easy to access. If a mother is having a bad day and can’t face getting dressed and packing up baby and all his paraphernalia, she can simply log on to the online group and chat with others that are available at the time. Another advantage is that the internet never sleeps and if the new mom is up at 2am, struggling with a crying baby and feeling of depression, she will invariably find someone online to chat to.

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    Choosing a Postpartum Support Group

    Most doctors will be able to refer a woman with postpartum depression to a support group. These groups are also advertised online and in places such as well-baby clinics. Each group has a unique flavor and if a woman is not happy at one, she can try another.

    Online groups focus on different areas of postpartum depression and a mother could join two or three until she finds one that suits her needs. Many women find it helpful to belong to a face to face group and an online group. This way they have access to extra support and advice as well as an assortment of input.

    Postpartum depression support groups are great places to compare notes about medications and their side effects, chat about looking after babies, and share about coping with life on days that seem gloomy and sad. Some strong friendships are forged in these meetings and most women find the interaction and sharing to be of great value.

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    References

    PPD Support. http://www.ppdsupportpage.com/

    Ruth Rhoden Craven Foundation. http://www.ppdsupport.dreamhosters.com/resources/

    Daily Strength. http://www.dailystrength.org/c/Post-Partum-Depression/support-group

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