10 Apps That Can Help With Postpartum Depression
There are so many things I wasn't ready for when I found out I was pregnant. The pain that would come with pregnancy, the whirlwind that is childbirth, the elation I felt when I first met my baby girl, and, most importantly, just how hard postpartum depression is when it hits.
After giving birth, up to 80 percent of women experience the baby blues, which includes anxiety and mood swings that typically can last an estimated two weeks. But about 10-20 percent of women indicate feelings of clinical depression. I was in the 10-20 percent suffering from postpartum depression, and it nearly destroyed me.
While some women with PPD never seek help, I had to—primarily because my husband threatened to take our child if I didn’t find help.
- RELATED: 5 New Ways to Beat the Baby Blues
I did everything the doctors told me to "feel better." I went to therapy twice a week, I saw a psychiatrist who prescribed a cocktail of medications, and I started going back to the gym. Although these made a difference, there were days I couldn’t move—completely crippled with depression, worried about my life as a mother and my worth as a wife.
In the midst of it, I discovered Peanut, an app designed to help new moms ease into postpartum. Through the app, I found other new moms to talk to, ones experiencing everything I was. And it was these moms who introduced me to other apps that they swore got them through the thick of depression—and using the apps saved my life. Take a look at 10 apps, most of which are free to download, that can help as you're struggling with depression.
Developed by psychologists, Happify uses behavioral cognitive therapy practices and mindfulness to help you turn negative and sad thoughts into positive and uplifting ones. Designed to help ease stress and help you cope with depression, Happify offers exercises, games, and activities that can instantly boost your mood. The app is free to download, but Happify Plus—an extended membership with more exercises and games—is $14.99 per month and is available on Apple and Android.
- RELATED: What is Postpartum Depression?
Dubbed the “Tinder for Moms,” Peanut connects you to moms in your area the same way the dating profile does. You create a profile and swipe on moms you’d like to meet based on interests, child’s age, and location. With more than 300,000 users, Peanut helps moms navigate the tricky dilemma of finding new mom friends. In addition, Peanut Pages offers a platform to discuss everything that’s affecting users—from things as severe as PPD to light-hearted questions about diapers. App is free on Apple and Android.
Sometimes, in the throes of severe PPD, the thought of leaving your house to speak to a therapist is too much to bear. That’s where TalkSpace comes in. Starting at just $65 a week, you can text, video chat, or talk on the phone with a licensed clinical therapist from just about anywhere. You’re matched with a therapist who can speak to your experience specifically and can even find counseling for couples and families. It's available on Apple and Android.
Aimed to help you meet families in your area, Pearachute works on a credit basis. You pay a monthly fee, which depends on the plan, and receive credits you can use to book a wide range of activities for both you and your child. These include music classes, language development activities, and special community events, and make getting out of the house easier. The app will also help your child foster healthy social development. Available on Apple and Android.
Made specifically for people with clinical depression, MoodTools puts your mental health care directly into your hands. Beyond just offering helpful videos aimed towards improving your mood and behavior, MoodTools also has a journal function where you can log and analyze how you’re feeling using cognitive behavioral therapy. Plus, you can develop a suicide safety plan that keeps you safe during the hardest times. App is free on Apple and Android.
Psychologists have found the act of meditation can ease depression symptoms by helping you change your reaction to negative thoughts and feelings. That’s why Headspace is so popular among mental health advocates. The app teaches you skills of mindfulness and meditation that can reduce stress and anxiety and improve sleep, focus, and overall mood. It features tools like “sleepcasts,” which give you soothing experiences to lull you to sleep, and “SOS” meditations designed to help you during moments of crisis. It costs $12.99 a month or $9.99 for students and is available on Apple and Android.
Developed by new parents to help newborn babies sleep outside of the womb, Sound Sleeper is also recommended for people with depression-related insomnia, anxiety, and stress. Offering a large selection of white noise sounds and soothing lullabies, the app helps you create a relaxing ambiance in your bedroom. In addition, the app allows you to track sleep progress as well as a nightlight and clock. The app is free to download on Apple and Android.
One thing that I always struggle with when I’m in the midst of a crippling anxiety attack or a moment of high stress is breathing. That’s why Breathe2Relax is one of my most-used apps. This free app teaches you how to practice deep breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing. These techniques have been shown to lower your heart rate and help relieve stress. The app connects to HealthKit or your Apple Watch to measure your heart rate while you’re practicing breathing. Free on Apple.
As the name states, Calm was created to help people learn better tactics to relax during times of high stress, anxiety, and depression. Calm boasts a range of offerings, including master classes to boost creativity and holistic health, stretching videos, meditation, and sleep sounds. The app also offers meditations geared towards helping boost self-care, something many new parents struggle to make time for. The cost is $12.99 per month or $59.99 a year. Available on Apple and Android.
More of a study and less of a tactical how-to app, PPD ACT is the first of its kind and showcases some groundbreaking initiatives when it comes to postpartum depression diagnosis. Created by scientists and academic clinicians, the survey encourages moms to take part in the comprehensive study questionnaire right from their phone. Although the app doesn’t give you immediate gratification, it does continue to help scientists work for a way to combat these crippling feelings more effectively. App is free to download on Apple.
Anyone who thinks they have symptoms of postpartum depression should speak to their doctor about treatment.