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25 things not to say to mothers with postpartum depression

By Katherine Stone for BlogHer.com

This week at my blog Postpartum Progress, I wrote a post called 20 Things I Never Want to Hear or Read Again, Postpartum Depression Edition. I was inspired to write it after reading similar posts from Arwyn at Raising My Boychick whose list focused on parental judgment, and Kristen at Birthing Beautiful Ideas whose list focused on pregnancy and childbirth.

I asked my readers to add their two cents, and was thrilled to see many of them speak up, while at the same time sad to see how many of them received such crappy support and stigmatizing comments from some of the people around them who should have been helping. In a day and age where we are supposed to have more awareness about PPD, I get emails all the time from readers who are still hearing the most awful things from doctors, friends, family members, partners and nurses. I can't emphasize enough how much trauma that adds to an already miserable situation, and how it can slow or even block recovery.

I think it's important to let people know what not to say, so I'm combining the input from my readers to give you the 25 things you should NEVER say to someone with or at risk of getting postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum psychosis or the antenatal (during pregnancy) version of any of these:

1. Just [go for a walk/go out with your friends/have a drink/take a vitamin/go shopping/go back on the pill] and you'll feel all better.
2. Women have been having babies for tens of thousands of years, and they got through new motherhood just fine. Toughen up.
3. Yeah, I had a few bad days there after my baby was born. I know what you're going through. Or ... I just finished my [album/thesis/marathon/political campaign]. I know how you feel.
4. Maybe postpartum depression is God's way of letting you know you don't have enough faith. I think you should pray harder.
5. Stop making this about you. This is about the baby. You should be thinking about him/her rather than yourself.
6. Quitting breastfeeding is selfish. The baby's health is so much more important than yours.
7. I know breastfeeding is really important to you, but you have to quit so you can be treated for PPD.
8. This is the exact medication and dosage I took for my PPD. Just take that and you'll be OK.
9. I would never take antidepressants. You shouldn't need that stuff to be a mother.
10. You're just mad the baby is getting all the attention.
11. PPD is just a fad. Only spoiled, Western women get it, and now that it's "popular" on the blogs, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.
12. Can't you see how lucky you are? You have a beautiful baby! You should be grateful.
13. This will probably go away on it's own, so don't worry about it.
14. I wouldn't talk about this with anyone. You don't want them to think you're crazy.
15. You don't need to worry about your symptoms unless you're having thoughts of harming your baby.
16. You're just using postpartum depression as an excuse to get out of the hard work of being a mom.
17. Once you go back to work you'll probably feel fine.
18. Why can't you just talk yourself out of this? I don't think you're trying hard enough.
19. Do we need to take your child away from you?
20. If you would just try ______— (fill in the blank) parenting style I think everything would be okay.
21. You have [a supportive partner/wonderful home/great family/good job/food on the table/healthy baby]. You should be happy.
22. All of this crying is bad for your baby, you know.
23. We all have days where we don't want to get out of bed.
24. Did you think motherhood was going to be easy? What did you expect?
25. Postpartum depression isn't real.

Women who have perinatal mood and anxiety disorders didn't do anything to cause them, and require medical help to recover from them. They deserve nothing but patience, love and support. Period.

Have you ever heard one of these lines? Or something worse? Share it here.

More bloggers on parenting, mental health, breastfeeding and PPD

Katherine Stone at Postpartum Progress @postpartumprogr

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