baby-and-dad-sleepingSeeing a loved one suffer from a Perinatal Mood Disorder (PMD) is never easy. Being present and encouraging your partner to get help is the most important thing you can do. Living with someone who has a PMD can also be frustrating and confusing. Check the links below to find help for your partner and yourself.

Around 80% of new mothers will experience a change in their mental health in the first year after giving birth. Some may even experience a change while they are pregnant. PMDs do not discriminate: they affect people of every race, every level of income, every age, and even all genders. It is quite common, and it is important to know that it is not your fault, you are not alone and there is help. With good, informed care, you can fully recover.

Read more about postpartum depression here.

Perinatal Mood Disorders (PMDs) do not discriminate. They affect women, men, people of every culture and nation, people of any age. They can affect adoptive parents, birth mothers, and women who have had a miscarriage. Some people, however, have an increased risk of developing mood disorders during pregnancy or in the first year after birth. If you think you may be at risk, contact your doctor and begin setting up a support network. Find more information about support services available.

Risk factors include:

  • You or your family has a history of postpartum depression, anxiety or psychosis
  • You or your family has a history of depression or anxiety,  not around childbirth
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
  • Financial stress
  • Marital stress (or lack of supportive partner)
  • Complications in pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
  • A recent major life change: job, moving, death, divorce, etc.
  • Mothers of multiples (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • Mothers of babies who went into the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit)
  • Women with a thyroid imbalance
  • Mothers who have gone through infertility treatments
  • Women with diabetes (type I, type II, or gestational)
  • Teens

With early detection, you can dramatically reduce the severity and length of a postpartum mood change.

Perinatal Mood Disorders (PMDs) affect the entire family. Here are some tips for supporting yourself and your partner.

Supporting Yourself

  • Find time for yourself.
  • Remember that this is temporary and treatable – your partner will be herself  again with good treatment and time.
  • Talk to friends about your feelings.
  • Talk to other families that have gone through this.
  • Men can also get a mood or anxiety disorder. If you feel you might be experiencing this, click here.

Supporting Your Family

  • Get others involved. Let your family and friends know what is going on. Ask for help and ACCEPT help. Isolation is a big factor.
  • Find support resources.

Support your Partner

  • Remind her that this will pass and you will be there to help her through it.
  • Tell your partner frequently that you love her and that your baby loves her.
  • Give her and yourself permission to not be “perfect.” Your partner’s mental health is more important than household chores.
  • Reassure her that this is not her fault and she is not alone.
  • Let her talk about her feelings without judging them or trying to fix them.
  • Try to help her with necessary tasks (laundry, bathing the baby, making dinner, etc.) before she feels that she needs to ask.
  • Make time to be together as a couple.
  • Give your partner time to be by herself, away from the baby.
  • Take the baby out of the house so your partner can relax or take a nap.
  • If your partner talks of harming herself or the baby, seek help immediately.

10-25% of men develop a mood or anxiety disorder. A mood or anxiety disorder for men can result from the stress of the changes in your life. Like maternal mood or anxiety disorders, it is a temporary condition that can resolve with treatment. For the sake of yourself and your family, it is important to seek treatment quickly. Click here for resources.

Symptoms of Male Mood or Anxiety Disorders Include:

  • Increased irritability, anger or conflict
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Increased drug or alcohol use
  • Getting easily stressed
  • Withdrawing from friends or family
  • Headaches, digestion problems or pain
  • Problems concentrating
  • Lack of motivation or interest
  • Worries about your ability to do your job
  • Fatigue
  • Thoughts of suicide

For more information and resources for help, go to this website Postpartum Men.

Books

  • This Isn’t What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression by Karen Kleinman
  • Pregnancy Blues: What Every Woman Needs to Know About Depression During Pregnancy by Shaila Misri
  • Down Comes the Rain by Brooke Shields
  • The Mother to Mother Postpartum Depression Support Book By Sandra Poulin
  • Sleepless Days: One Woman’s Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Susan Kushner Resnick
  • Postpartum Depression for Dummies by Shoshana Bennett, PhD
  • The Postpartum Husband: Practical Solutions for living with Postpatrum Depression by Karen Kleinman
  • Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorders: Perspectives and Treatment Guide for the Health Care Practitioner by Susan Dowd Stone
  • Tokens of Affection: Reclaiming Your Marriage After Postpartum Depression by Karen Kleinman and Amy Wenzel
  • Fatherneed by Kyle Pruett
  • Partnership Parenting by Kyle Pruett
  • Fatherhood by Ross Parke
  • Postpartum Husband by Karen Kleiman

Websites

PPD Blogs

Articles and Videos about Dads and Perinatal Mental Illness

Useful Printouts