Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Partners’ Support for Perinatal Depression

Persons with postpartum depression need and benefit from social support from partners, family, friends, or peers (where appropriate). • Types of support from family, friends and peers that help persons with postpartum depression to cope include: o informational (i.e., giving advice and guidance); o instrumental (i.e., helping and assisting with practical tasks, such as house work); o emotional (i.e., providing care, empathy, and compassion); and o affirmational (i.e., acknowledgement and validation of the experience of depression). • Encourage family and friends to listen acknowledge persons’ feelings, reassure them that their experiences are not unusual, and offer them a sense of hope that they will get better with support and treatment. This can help postpartum persons to cope and reduce their experiences of isolation and anxiety. • Persons with perinatal depression can experience further isolation and stigma when partners or family members demonstrate a lack of understanding and compassion, are non-supportive, or are abusive. This lack of support can be the result of various causes, including: o being unsure how to help; o normalizing or minimizing depressive symptoms in a belief that depression is not a mental illness that requires treatment; o being an abuser; or o having a personal experience of depression that renders them less able or available to provide support due to their own mental illness.

Women and Children
Assessment and Interventions Perinatal Depression
Point of Care Resources