Talking to friends and family about emotional and mental health

Many mental health conditions enter women’s lives gradually, which can be confusing and isolating. These feelings of fear, guilt, and inadequacy can make reaching out to loved ones and accessing care difficult. Talking to other people is an important first step toward treatment.

Women struggling with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety might consider speaking to some of the following people.

A partner or close friend

Some people have a hard time speaking to healthcare providers about their concerns. If this is the case, it can be helpful to start with someone they trust. This could be a partner, or even a close friend. If this is something you’re considering, here are some tips for speaking to your partner or a close friend about your mental health.

  • Try to accept that someone who isn’t in your shoes might not entirely understand what’s going on with you. That doesn’t mean that your problems aren’t real or legitimate or that this person doesn’t care about them.
  • Try to make clear what you need from the person, whether it’s a listening ear, help around the house, more help with the baby, support talking to a healthcare provider, or anything else.
  • Try not to worry about what your partner or friend will think. They will most likely be understanding and want to help.
  • Consider reading more about the topic before talking with a partner or friend. They may not be educated on what you’re going through, and hearing more about it could help them understand how people are typically affected.

Family member

Sometimes it makes more sense to approach a family member about your mental health. You may feel much more comfortable talking to a parent, sibling, aunt, or cousin about how you’ve been feeling or the ways you’ve been struggling. If you think you might feel most comfortable talking to a family member, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • As is the case with a partner or friend, the person you speak to might not completely understand the condition. It could help to read about what you’re going through beforehand so you can share basic facts about the condition.
  • Don’t be afraid to let the person know what you need from them. Family members who aren’t familiar with the condition may not know how they can help.

People who have experienced mood disorders before

There are times to call in the experts, and there are times to call in the expert empathizers. Though everyone experiences mood disorders differently, it can be helpful to talk to others who have also experienced what you’re going through. Many people find the experience of talking to others extremely useful, both for treatment ideas and moral support.

The bottom line

The sooner you start talking about how you’re feeling, the less you have to deal with alone. Talking to friends and family about what’s going on can be a major step in getting the help one needs.

Read more
  • “Postpartum Depression.” ACOG. FAQ091 from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Dec 2013. Web.
  • Christina Hibbert. “I’m worried that I have postpartum depression. How can I talk to my partner about it?” Seleni. Seleni Institute, nd. Web.
  • Kate Kripke. “Postpartum Depression: When dads and partners don’t seem to get it.” PostpartumProgress. Postpartum Progress, Oct 2011. Web.
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