How To Help Your Wife With Postpartum Depression
My wife had postpartum depression, and it was the first time in my marriage that I really felt like a problem was out of my league.
I went through so much painful trial and error until we finally saw a counselor who had experience with PPD. Only then was I confident that I was helping my wife survive PPD to the best of my ability.
I’d like to help you skip all the hard lessons… Instead, I’m going to teach you everything I wish I’d known from the beginning. This post is divided up into two main parts:
- 1During an episode — When your wife is having a really bad day , what should you do? What is the ‘right’ way to handle it?
- 2Big picture advice — This is where you’ll be learning the things you should be doing all the time as long as your wife has postpartum depression.
If Your Wife Has Postpartum Depression Here’s How To Help Her Manage It
It can be extremely frustrating to live with someone’s who’s depressed. This is especially true when you have a new baby and the house seems crowded with things that need to get done right now.
When it comes to helping a partner manage depression, howeverparticularly postpartum depressionwhat you do matters significantly. What you think might help, might not. It may even make things worse. Remember, you cannot fix someone else’s depression. You cannot make it go away. In the cases of postpartum depression, no matter how hard you try or how much you love your wife, recovery takes longer than you want it to.You must be willing to wait this out with her. These suggestions may help.
- Research has shown us that a woman’s depression will improve markedly with the consistent support of a significant other.
- The longer you pretend that the depression will go away by itself or deny it is happening, the longer her recovery will take.
- The more you expect of her, the greater your demands, the more difficult her recovery will be.
- The harder you are on yourself, the less resources you will have to carry you through each day.
- You must take this very seriously.
- You have much more power to affect the outcome of how you both feel than you might think.
- Your wife will get better. Things will settle at home, in time. You will have your wifeand your lifeback eventually.
How You Can Help A Depressed Husband Wife Loved One Or Friend
1. Be alert to signs and symptoms of depression. Everyone with depression presents a bit differently. But generally, most individuals who are depressed exhibit mood or personality changes. Some may be sad, or discouraged, or ambivalent, or even angry. Youre also likely to see changes in appetite or weight , and often some form of sleep disturbance . Depressed individuals often lack energy and motivation, and find it difficult to manage everyday tasks because they now feel overwhelming . They often show a lack of interest in people or things that they previously cared about. Sometimes they experience difficulty concentrating or difficulty making decisions. Sadly, many also believe that life for them and for those they love would be better if they were no longer there, and contemplate suicide . If you notice several of these symptoms, and they have lasted more than a couple of weeks, or have come and gone and returned, depression is a strong likelihood.
3. Understand and help explain that depression is a medical condition just like diabetes or heart disease. Many who struggle with depression feel ashamed, embarrassed and guilty. Unfortunately, society has stigmatized mental health disorders, largely out of a lack of understanding, but that has made it more challenging for those afflicted to willingly acknowledge their condition or seek help.
Above all, know that God sees. He cares, and He has not and will not leave you to fight this battle alone.
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How To Deal With A Depressed Wife
This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudi Griffin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Wisconsin specializing in Addictions and Mental Health. She provides therapy to people who struggle with addictions, mental health, and trauma in community health settings and private practice. She received her MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 16,600 times.
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Ways To Help Your Depressed Husband Or Wife
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How can I help my depressed husband?
How do I help my wife who is depressed?
How can I be helpful to my depressed friend?
These are all questions I frequently hear.
Last month was Depression Awareness Month and I would be remiss if I didnt also try to help those who have depressed loved ones.
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Find A Mental Health Counselor For The Two Of You
Depression affects both of youand your whole family. The Lowes suggest finding a therapist or counselor who has worked with depression in couples. You may have issues to deal with individually as the depressed person, and the two of you may have issues to deal with that stem from coping with depression, Lowe says. We found it very helpful to have a counselor we could see together at times and separately at other times.
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Create A Supportive Home Environment
Its important to remember that your partners depression isnt anyones fault. While you cant fix it, your support will help your partner work through this difficult time.
Changes in lifestyle can make a big difference during the treatment process. Because depression can zap a persons energy and affect both sleep and appetite, it can be difficult for depressed people to make healthy choices. You can help:
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My Husband Is Depressed: Should I Be Worried
Although depression rates are lower in men, suicide rates are higher in males with depression than in women. In the U.S., of the 38,000 people who took their own lives in 2010, 79% were men. No one knows precisely why this is, though one hypothesis states that men have a higher tendency to act impulsively than women.
If youre worried your husband is depressed, the best way you can help is to encourage and foster open communication. It can be scary to hear someone you love tell you how bleak and hopeless they feel, but depression is a serious illness that must be tackled head-on. Listening without judgment helps destigmatize depression and encourages those affected to make and maintain healthy connections with others.
In The Moment: Helping Your Wife Survive Intense Episodes Of Postpartum Depression
Well get to the big picture stuff – the stuff you should be doing all the time throughout your wifes struggle with postpartum depression – but first I wanted to talk about how to handle those really bad days..
This is the part that took me a very, very long time to figure out:
- What is the best way to handle a really bad episode of postpartum depression?
- What do you do when your wife is expressing her anger or sadness in unhealthy ways?
- How do you help her pull out of the depressive episode as quickly as possible?
Ive made a list that runs through the details, but it can really be summed up in one sentence:
Heres a more detailed description of dos and donts:
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Find Ways To Make Use Of Any Insight They Have Into Their Anxiety
If your loved one has insight into their anxiety, you can help them spot when their anxiety-driven patterns are occurring. I find it helpful when my spouse notices that Im expressing my anxiety about work by being irritable with her or by being too fussy. Because we know each others patterns so well and have a trusting relationship, we can point out each others habits. Not that this is always met with grace, but the message sinks in anyway.
If youre going to do this, its a good idea to have their permission first. Keep in mind that people who have insight into their anxiety often still feel compelled to give in to their anxious thoughts. For instance, a person with health anxiety might logically know that going to the doctor every week for multiple tests is unnecessary, but they cant help themselves. If your loved one lacks insight into their anxiety or has trouble managing compulsions, its probably best to encourage them to see a clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety.
Take Care Of Yourself
While you are supporting your partner with depression, it is also very important to take care of yourself. Moreover, it would be nice if you inspire your partner to follow the self-care routine that you are going through. For example:
- Go for a walk in nature or plan a picnic in the forest
- Participate in hobbies together
Make sure that your partner is not taking your self-care in the wrong manner. For example, you are planning to leave them alone! It is great if you take help from a professional to guide you in the right direction.
Helping your partner to cope with depression can be emotionally draining for you but it is time that you become a good listener, stand beside them and support them in any way possible. Yes, therapies are good but your love will triumph it all.
Suicide Prevention Helpline
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives and Listen to the person without judgment.
- Remove any Harmful weapons, medications, or other objects.
- If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.
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Other Things You Can Do
- Try to postpone any important decisions until after she is feeling better.
- Some of the things you think she should do right now to feel better, may not work.
- Some of the things that previously made her feel good, may feel like too much effort at this time.
Adapted from The Postpartum Husband: Practical Solutions for Living with Postpartum Depression
© Copyright 2011 Karen Kleiman, MSW, postpartumstress.com
Taking Care Of Yourself
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Things Really Bad Insist On Watching The Baby
If things really start to escalate, you may need to end it by suggesting that you both take a breather or by insisting that she lets you watch the baby alone.
There were only a couple times where I felt like the right thing was to insist on her taking space for herself, and it did not feel good. This should never be a go-to solution, even if you know your wife really does need some space. It is much, much better to offer or let her ask for it than to insist on it. You WILL come off controlling and mean if you do this.
But! If you know that your wife is going to do things that she will regret, or if you know that she is not capable of being a safe parent during a particularly nasty episode, you are allowed to make this call.
My biggest mistake?
I thought doing the right things during an episode meant that my wife would immediately feel better.
Therefore, if my wife didnt feel better immediately, I must not have done the right things.
This is a trap I fell into many, many times. This is a frustrating and futile way to think, and will make your wifes struggle with postpartum depression much harder for both of you than it needs to be.
The important thing to remember in all of this is that even if you do the right things, it probably wont feel better immediately.
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How To Help A Depressed Husband Wife Or Partner: Should You Confront Them
Desperate to know how to help a depressed husband or wife when they dont want your support? Whatever the situation, depression can hurt your relationship or make your relationship incredibly difficult. Your partner may reject your emotional or practical help and insist on doing things on their own. This can be incredibly bothersome when youre worried about your partner, and dealing with someone with depression can be frustrating. Understandably, this frustration often leads to confrontation, which is rarely helpful to either partner.
Just like when someone has an alcohol or drug addiction, it can be difficult to make your spouse see how their depression is affecting your relationship and home life. When you’re dealing with an addict, however, confrontation rarely motivates them to seek help. Studies show that conflict and confrontation actually increase an individuals resistance to change and make them more likely to carry out problematic behavior, such as drinking, gambling or drugs.
Ask A Lot Of Questions
Dear Husband your wife needs you to ask her questions. So ask her every single day what she needs from you: what kind of day she is having, what does the baby need, and what does your marriage need. Ask her whatever comes to your mind so that you can learn right along with her on how to get through this journey together.
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