A Husband’s Guide to Understanding Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

Becoming a parent is a life-changing experience that comes with countless joys and challenges. One of the biggest challenges that many new moms face is postpartum depression and anxiety (PPD/A). Despite the fact that it is a common condition, many new dads feel unprepared to support their partners through it. In order to help you understand what your partner is going through and how you can best support them, we’ve put together this guide to PPD/A.

What is Postpartum Depression and Anxiety?

Postpartum depression and anxiety are mood disorders that can affect new moms after they give birth. Symptoms of PPD/A can range from mild to severe, and might include:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Lack of energy or interest in activities
  • Irritability or anger
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

PPD/A is thought to be caused by a combination of hormonal, biological and environmental factors, and affects around 10-20% of new mothers in Australia. It is important to recognise that PPD/A is not a personal failing or weakness, and that it can happen to anyone.

Supporting Your Partner Through PPD/A

If your partner is experiencing PPD/A, it can be a challenging and stressful time for both of you. However, there are things you can do to support them and help them recover.

1. Educate Yourself

The first step in supporting your partner is to educate yourself about PPD/A. Read up on the symptoms, causes, and treatments of the condition so that you can better understand what your partner is going through. This will also help you to be more empathetic and supportive as you navigate this difficult time together.

2. Be Supportive and Patient

Dealing with PPD/A can be a long and difficult process, but it’s important to remember that your partner is not alone. Be there to listen to them, offer words of support and encouragement, and remind them that you love them. Remember that recovery takes time, and be patient and understanding throughout the process.

3. Be Involved in Treatment

PPD/A is a treatable condition, and there are a number of different approaches that your partner can take to manage their symptoms. Encourage your partner to seek professional help, and be involved in their treatment plan. Attend appointments with them, offer to help with household chores, and be there to support them through any challenges they might face.

4. Look After Yourself

Supporting someone with PPD/A can be emotionally and physically taxing, so it’s important to also take care of yourself. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, and taking time out for self-care activities. Remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup, and that you need to take care of yourself in order to be a supportive partner.

When to Seek Professional Help

While it’s normal to have some ups and downs after giving birth, it’s important to recognise when your partner might need professional help for PPD/A. If your partner is experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s important to seek medical help:

  • Intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness or fear that don’t improve over time
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby
  • Feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope
  • Feeling like they can’t look after their baby or themselves
  • Thoughts of harming themselves or the baby

If your partner is experiencing any of these symptoms, encourage them to see their GP as soon as possible. PPD/A is a treatable condition, and with the right support, it is possible to recover.

Conclusion

Supporting a partner through PPD/A can be a challenging time, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. By educating yourself, being supportive and patient, being involved in treatment, and looking after yourself, you can help your partner through this difficult time. Remember that PPD/A is a treatable condition, and with the right support, both you and your partner will come through this experience stronger than ever.

FAQs

FAQ 1: What is postpartum depression and anxiety?

Postpartum depression and anxiety are mental health conditions that can affect new mothers after childbirth. Symptoms include mood swings, sadness, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping or concentrating. These symptoms can be mild or severe and can start within weeks of giving birth or even months after.

FAQ 2: How does postpartum depression and anxiety affect a husband’s role?

Postpartum depression and anxiety can have a significant impact on a husband’s role as a caregiver and support system for his wife. A husband may need to be more involved in caring for the baby and household chores as his partner may struggle with daily tasks. He may also need to be understanding and patient with her emotional and mental state, which can be challenging.

FAQ 3: What can husbands do to support their partners with postpartum depression and anxiety?

There are several ways husbands can support their partners with postpartum depression and anxiety, including being an active listener, encouraging them to seek professional help, helping with household chores and caring for the baby, and being patient and understanding. It’s also important for husbands to take care of their own mental health and seek support if needed.


References

1. Dunkel Schetter, C., & Tanner, L. (2012). Anxiety, depression and stress in pregnancy: implications for mothers, children, research, and practice. Current opinion in psychiatry, 25(2), 141-148.
2. Howard, L. M., Molyneaux, E., Dennis, C. L., Rochat, T., Stein, A., & Milgrom, J. (2014). Non-psychotic mental disorders in the perinatal period. The Lancet, 384(9956), 1775-1788.
3. Paulson, J. F., Bazemore, S. D., & Goodman, J. H. (2016). Perinatal depression. The primary care companion for CNS disorders, 18(2).