How To Tell If My Wife Has Postpartum Depression – Sometimes your partner is the first to notice that something is not right. But what are the signs of postpartum depression and how can you find support?
Between 10% and 20% of women experience postpartum depression (PND) in the first year after giving birth (NICE, 2016). And about 10% of men also experience postpartum depression (Paulson et al, 2006). So you are certainly not alone in this.
How To Tell If My Wife Has Postpartum Depression
Watch our video of one dad sharing his experience and read on to see how other dads are helping themselves and their partners.
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Postpartum depression has many different symptoms. Changes in your partner’s physical well-being and behavior are signs to watch out for.
Shortly after the birth of their son Ethan, Mark began to sense that something was not right with his wife Michelle.
“It was clear that Michelle was not herself. She became withdrawn and afraid of being left alone. I could see in her eyes that something was not right.”
Your partner may become more withdrawn and reluctant to leave the house. Appetite or eating patterns may change and they may be more irritable than usual or have trouble sleeping (Boots Alliance Trust, 2013).
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“Abi started to have feelings of worthlessness and obsessive behavior. He spent hours cleaning the baby’s things and writing a list of what needed to be done each day.” He couldn’t sleep, started losing weight dramatically and started saying that Chloe would. be better off without him. It’s like she’s a shell and not the same woman anymore.” Does my partner have postpartum depression?
It can be difficult to recognize the signs of PND. Especially since some symptoms, such as sleep disturbances, low sex drive and lack of concentration, are common among new mothers (MIND, 2020). After all, it’s normal to experience some stress and feel overwhelmed as a new parent. That’s why it’s so important to check in with your partner on a regular basis to ask about their feelings so you can better understand their constant mood swings.
“Always try to use open-ended questions. You can ask him how his day was, how he’s feeling, what he’s doing, or anything else you can do to help,” says Mark. He withdraws from friends and family,” Ben said.
Because PND often starts gradually, many people are unaware they have it (Public Health England, 2019). Some try to hide their feelings because they think they are a bad parent, have failed or will be judged (RCOG, 2017). Others fear that social services will get involved or that the baby will be taken from them if they are unwell (NICE, 2018). In fact, 30% never seek professional help (Boots Family Trust Alliance, 2013).
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“So partners have to keep a closer eye and trust their instincts when they sense something isn’t right. And you know it,” Mark said.
Making time to talk… and to listen is important (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2018b). You may need to be more careful with your language and assumptions. PND is a mental illness and cannot be ‘stopped’ or treated with positive thinking (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2018b).
It can be difficult to find the right words to talk about PND. You can try phrases like:
You can encourage your partner to write something in their mood journal if they are having a hard time. Diaries and mood diaries can help people with PND identify people, places, and activities that enhance or enhance their mood (MIND, 2020). Here are some more tips on how to talk and listen to your partner.
Ways To Support A Mother Who Has Postpartum Depression
Being kind and gentle is important because this is a difficult and sensitive subject. It may take some time for your partner to be ready to talk or admit that they are experiencing PND.
“Try not to give negative comments because this is the only opportunity that opens up for you,” said Mark.
If your partner is open about their troubling thoughts, try not to show that you care. The best thing you can do is not judge.
If you are concerned that your partner may harm themselves or the baby, it is very important to take this seriously. Seek urgent help from your GP, local mental health services or emergency room (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2018a).
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Try to understand what your partner may be experiencing by reading about the disease and researching it. You can search for local and national support groups, forums, or blogs. Maybe she’s relieved that he doesn’t feel this way alone.
“If you don’t see any improvement, see another specialist as there could be something else causing PND. Doctors can sometimes be wrong,” Ben added. Does it help with postpartum depression?
It is important that your partner has support. You may want to schedule a visit from your health visitor or make an appointment with your doctor. You can also accompany your partner so that you don’t feel alone.
“Tell health professionals and your family. Don’t suffer in silence, because the faster you get help, the faster recovery for your family,” Mark suggested.
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Remember, health professionals are here to help. They may offer psychological (talk therapy), medication, or a combination of the two. It will depend on the illness and the wishes of the partner (NHS, 2018).
Support from loved ones is one of the greatest healers (Boots Alliance Trust, 2013). There are also many practical ways you can support and lighten the load.
Giving her time is important, but so is spending time together. New moms can feel like they don’t know who they really are, so you might want to find something you can still enjoy together, like going for a walk, watching a DVD for an easy date night, or seeing friends.
You may feel surprised, disappointed, scared, frustrated or helpless when you discover that your partner has PND (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2018a). And it can be annoying, stressful and exhausting to live with people with PND (MIND, 2020). Here’s how a father deals with his wife’s depression.
Enlist Your Partner To Spot Signs Of Postpartum Depression
You need support yourself and need to stop, so find family, friends or someone else you can trust (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2018b).
“It’s the most scared and worried I’ve ever felt. I have heart palpitations and mild panic symptoms. I’m angry I can’t see him and I’m afraid he’s going to do something terrible that will affect our son.” forever.
Partners with PND may even be more vulnerable to depression – between 24% and 50% also experience depression themselves (Fatherhood Institute, 2010).
“I blamed myself and got angry. I couldn’t tell Michelle because I didn’t want to affect her mental health, so I kept hiding it every day. Men don’t share and talk about our feelings because of the stigma. But if we didn’t for worry ourselves, how can he protect his family?”
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The important thing to remember is that help is available for both of you – and it can all add up for your family.
You may find it helpful to attend one of our Early Days groups as it gives you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with qualified group leaders and other new parents in your area.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your area for support and camaraderie by checking out nearby activities.
Mind, a leading mental health charity, provides information on a range of mental health topics, including post-natal depression, and has a support hotline: 0300 123 3393.
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You can call the Samaritans for free anytime to listen and support on 116 123.
PANDAS (PND Awareness & Support) is a support service for families and networks with perinatal mental illness. They have a free helpline you can call on 0808 1961 776.
For more information on postpartum depression from a couple’s perspective, see this article from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Boots Family Trust Alliance. (2013) Perinatal Mental Health: Experiences of Women and Health Professionals. Available at: https://www.basw.co.uk/resources/perinatal-mental-health-experiences-wo… [Accessed 6 January 2022]
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Cooney GM, Dwan K, Greig CA, Lawlor DA, Rimer J, Waugh FR, et al. (2013) Exercise for depression. Cochrane Database System Rev. (9): CD004366. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD004366.pub6
FUN. (2014) Prenatal and Postnatal Mental Health. Clinical Management and Service Guidelines CG192. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg192 [Accessed 26 January 2022]
Paulson JF, Dauber S, Leiferman JA. (2006) Individual and combined effects of maternal and paternal postpartum depression on parenting behavior. Pediatrics. 118(2):659-668. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2005-2948
Public Health England. (2019) Better Mental Health: A collaborative strategic toolkit for needs assessment, perinatal mental health guidance. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/better-mental-health-jsna-to… [Accessed 26 January 2022]
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Royal College of Psychiatrists. (2018a) Postnatal depression – how partners and families can help. Available at: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/problems-disorders/post-natal-depression [Access
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