Imagine this scenario: Your wife has recently given birth to a beautiful and healthy child. You realize she’s going through some intense emotions after her delivery. You soon realize that your wife is having major mood swings, which might include excessive crying, insomnia, lack of concentration and fatigue.
Postpartum Depression in Men
While some people might dissuade you to seek medical advice despite these symptoms, calling it the after-effects of pregnancy; there is always a possibility that you might be dealing with a spouse going through postpartum depression.
Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?
These mood swings could be signs of Baby Blues. Baby Blues are the feeling of fear and sadness women go through after 3 to 10 days of giving birth. Although this is a mild dysfunction in behavioral activities, 80% of the women who suffer from baby blues have a tendency to recover from it without medication or therapy.
However, postpartum depression is much more severe than Baby Blues and lasts longer – occurring in about 15% of births. According to CDC research, about 1 in 8 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression in the US.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
The symptoms of postpartum depression are:
6. Loss of Interest in Hobbies or Activities
7. Lack of attention and concentration
9. Excessive Sleep or Insomnia
10. Loss of Appetite or Overeating
11. Suicidal Tendencies
Effects of Postpartum Depression
Symptoms of postpartum depression start within a few weeks of childbirth, eventually hampering the ability of the mother to take care of the newborn baby. Furthermore, thinking about the inability to nurture the baby triggers the above-mentioned symptoms even further.
Causes of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression could have 3 causes:
1. Biological Causes
The shift in hormones and the body’s biological cycle can lead to physiological changes, including mood swings and dysfunctional behavior. The changes in the body start from the time of conception till lactation, and might take a long time to reach a stage of balance in the body. This, in turn, makes women extremely vulnerable to depression.
2. Psychosocial Causes
The experience of pregnancy can be joyful for some, however, some women might have a traumatic experience. It’s possible that women only remember all the pain and suffering during pregnancy. The traumatic experience might also involve negative relations with the family, especially with the husband.
Post-partum depression can also occur due to the lack of readiness for having a child. There can also be a pressure to be the ‘perfect mother’, which might lead to post-partum depression.
3. Medical Causes
If the mother is on drugs or medicines, or there is a diagnosed psychological disorder before or during the pregnancy, there is a chance that the mother might develop post-partum depression.
How Husbands Can Help with Postpartum Depression
A wife’s relationship with her spouse is considered to be one of the most influential factors in the occurrence of post-partum depression. Therefore, it is necessary that husbands understand their role in helping their wives overcome this type of depression. The other impacting factors might be biological factors and a lack of social support.
Here are the ways in which you can support your wife in prepartum and postpartum depression:
1. Don’t Assume, Ask
Many men assume what their wife must be going through after pregnancy and end up talking to everyone except their wife about the same. Thus, it’s important to communicate and listen to your wife. Ask her how she’s feeling and let her be vulnerable with you. Don’t ask her to be strong or cheer up. It will only make things worse. Show empathy and let her tell you what she needs in this time and abide by that.
2. Research and Self-Educate
Research about the problems you are facing and understand what your wife is going through. Talk to the gynecologist and consult a therapist or psychological counselor to have a much clearer picture of the problem.
3. Be Available, Yet Maintain Boundaries
Take charge and be there for her when she needs you. Accompany her to the doctor appointments. Try not to bother her for trivial issues such as household work, and let her be comfortable with the new normal at her own pace, i.e. life with a baby. This will give her some ‘me time’ where she can introspect and organize her thoughts.
4. Set Limits with People
Socializing can be difficult in a time when everyone just asks about the symptoms one is going through. Accept incoming communication and pass on some good heartfelt messages to your wife.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Your mental wellness is also an important factor in parenting a newborn baby. As a caregiver for the family, you might feel overwhelmed or be too judgmental when something goes wrong. Remember that you are not alone. Take some time to do things that you enjoy at weekends. Look and ask about your company’s professional policy for paternity leaves and be easy on yourself.
Overcoming Post-Pregnancy Depression
A little effort to communicate with your wife can help her overcome post-partum depression. But for that you need to equip yourself with knowledge as well as tools which a therapist can provide. So do not overlook the signs of postpartum depression, instead seek an expert’s advice and be the person your wife truly needs at such a grave time of need.