What You Need To Know About Postpartum Depression and Anxiety As Fathers (From Her)
“How often can women cry in a day?”
Is your wife still grumpy even after five months of giving birth? If you think your wife is so irritable or overly emotional, she’s not just acting up; she may be going through something that can’t be handled with mind over matter techniques.
The word brought horror stories to many new fathers, and it’s the so-called Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, and OCD.
What is Postpartum Depression?
Not all women have in-depth knowledge about postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD. Some of those women going through this may even be in denial and will choose to keep this struggle on their own. Probably because they think it is a little embarrassing and their friends were such happy mothers they wanted to act the same way.
No matter how new moms or expecting women may hide it, the symptoms are not picky and sudden outbursts can come once or more even in just a day. But what causes these postpartum issues? How bad is it to go through this period?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is different from postpartum anxiety (PPA) and PPOCD, although it can be a combination of both in most women. Nonetheless, Postpartum depression is more than just the baby blues that only lasts a week or two after the baby is born. It’s a serious depression that makes women feel sad, lonely, hopeless and even has trouble caring and bonding with their newborn baby or babies.
Two factors cause PPD. One is genetics, and the other is her environment. If she has a family history of mental illness, then she is more likely to experience this, but it doesn’t automatically mean all women who qualify are going to go through depression. It is because emotional support and presence can sometimes be enough for women to avoid PPD.
Another factor that plays a significant role in a woman’s emotion is hormones. Although the relationship between hormones and PPD hasn’t been entirely established, hormonal fluctuations in women that happen during puberty, pre-menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause are believed to have a direct relationship with women’s emotion during these stages.
The Hypothalamus, a part of the brain the controls hormone production is also involved in emotion. The relationship between emotions and the hormonal (estrogen and progesterone) levels among women during the mentioned stages is still subject to research.
PPD usually lasts one year after birth, and its symptoms can vary from one woman to another. Nonetheless, several factors can make women more vulnerable to PPD.
Given that, here is a list of factors that may determine if your wife has a high risk for PPD:
– Traumatic Pregnancy or Delivery
– Sickly Newborn Baby
– Emotionally Stressful or Painful Experiences
– Domestic Violence Experience or Sexual Abuse
– Bad Childhood Experiences
– Isolation or Lack of Support
– Personality (Perfectionist, OCD)
In worst cases, some women go through postpartum psychosis, where the new mom may feel detached with the baby and even hallucinate. This is an emergency situation because some even have urges to kill herself or her baby and this are out of the woman’s control. Women who are suspected of going through this should be treated immediately.
Although that’s a rare case, your wife is not made to be depression-proof so look out for symptoms and, please be gentle and understanding as much as possible. Also take note that PPD, PPA, and PPOCD can happen even when your wife is still pregnant.
What A Depressed New Mom Feels
Even if you think your wife is strong and a naturally happy person, you still have to be extra cautious about her emotional health. Below is a list of what your wife may be going through when she is experiencing PPD:
As a mother:
– Feeling incompetent or immature, or not enough as a mother.
– Feeling guilty. Thinks her baby doesn’t deserve a mother like her.
– Worries about what the baby feels because she is always crying. Thinks she is unhappy and feeling disconnected with her baby.
– Thinks baby is better off without her.
– Feeling detached with the baby.
– Afraid of people’s judgement and afraid that the baby will be taken away from her.
As a person:
– Easily irritated, angry or annoyed. Feels animosity or indignation towards the baby, her spouse of friends who doesn’t have babies.
– Feeling empty and numb.
– Deep sadness.
– Cries for no reason.
– Feeling hopeless, insufficient, and a failure.
– Can’t eat properly nor sleep properly (even when baby is asleep) or she’s just asleep all the time she couldn’t finish any task.
– Forgetful and unable to focus or concentrate even on simple conversations.
– She feels social isolation.
– Feeling scared about her situation and doesn’t understand herself most of the time.
– Maybe doing fine on the outside but is tempted to run away to end misery.
– Afraid of being unable to get back into shape.
As you can see, this long list is just an understatement about what a woman goes through when she is going through the rough times of PPD. Some women are afraid to admit that to their husbands, and some are waiting for their husbands to notice their sadness.
It is extra difficult for women who go through PPD to go on unnoticed by their spouses. But it is impossible for husbands not to notice their wives having depression especially when they are not naturally gloomy persons. All that women want is to be understood, cared for and loved.
Women who go through PPD, often have issues sharing how they feel towards their husbands and often have sudden outbursts. They can cry for hours and not say anything about it. They would look at their kids and feel bad about themselves. They always feel guilty- well almost every mom does, but they feel so bad about themselves they can’t figure out what it is that they truly want.
If you give them attention and listen to them, the process of healing can speed up, but it is a case to case basis. Most women who go through PPD are treated the same way depressed people are treated.
Taking them to a medical professional will help them best, as taking medicines orally will regulate their hormonal imbalances, help them to sleep better and assist them to concentrate better.
If you suspect your wife to be having such symptoms or if she admits that she is feeling that way, encourage her to meet with a doctor. Some wouldn’t want to because they are afraid their baby will be taken away, but always assure her of your support and keep her trust and faith towards you.
What is PPA or PPOCD?
Postpartum Anxiety is somehow related to postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder, although they can be felt with different symptoms.
– Feeling like she has to be busy at all time for the sake of the baby. Like cleaning bottles, clothes, the house, checking and entertaining the baby, etc.
– Feeling worried all the time. Feeling worried about anything. She feels worried about her husband and baby. Always find what she does for her baby insufficient.
– Always having scary “what ifs”
– Afraid to be alone with her baby because she worries she may or other things in her house can cause harm to the baby.
– She feels the need to check things always, like if her baby is still breathing.
– She usually have stomach cramps, headaches and nausea, and panic attacks.
– No appetite.
– Can’t sleep well.
– Always feel like something bad is going to happen.
– Always think that something is wrong and thinks she’s going crazy
– Afraid to be unable to get back into her original shape and afraid that people will judge her and take her baby away.
What You Can Do For Her
Let your wife be. Let her cry but don’t act as if you don’t care about her tears.
Ask her why. If she responds angrily, tell her to talk to you when she’s better. Make her feel wanted, make her feel cared for and you can do this by taking the time to take your other kids out or taking over some of the household chores for awhile.
Help her take care of the baby at night or let her sleep the night without interruptions.
Before you go to bed, ask her how her day went so far. Talk to her normally about how your day went as well even if it’s the weekend and you both stayed at home. Do thoughtful acts like bake (if you know), cook for meals during your days off and buy her stuff she would appreciate (you know better!).
Don’t let the day end with her being mad at you even if you don’t think it’s your fault. Admit your weakness, listen to her rantings and assure her of your action plans. Don’t fret about her being such a nagger and all. Don’t add up more to the pressure she is already putting on herself.
A few of the things that you can do to help her is to:
– Let her join a community of new moms who may be experiencing the same.
– Continue breastfeeding since it helps lower down stress hormones. It encourages the production of “oxytocin” or the cuddle hormone. It also promotes faster weight loss. If she can’t breastfeed because she doesn’t have enough milk or the baby is finding it hard to latch on, let her feed via formula milk.
– Encourage your wife to take care of herself. She can’t care about the people around her when doesn’t even care about herself. As they say, you can’t give what you don’t have. Let her take time to do yoga or exercise.
– Let her dress up. Lessen her stress of finding clothes that would fit her new body (she’s going to tell you she’ll shed a few pounds) but take her to women’s clothing sale and just let her be.
– Let her go out with friends and give her time to stay and relax. Even time in the hot tub is luxury for new moms.
– Meet a medical professional to address her emotional issues and problems. Even if it doesn’t look dangerous, neglecting to treat it will cause her a lifetime of unhappiness even after her PPD is gone.
Let her feel like someone listen, understands, supports and love her unconditionally.
(Editors note: Almost all of the symptoms of this type of depression can potentially result from a traumatic or stressful birth. Even if this does not seem like an obvious cause, trauma can often be something that we overlook and is worth considering as a potentiality if you are researching sources of help, or finding current methods of help ineffective. It may be worth looking into various forms of trauma release therapy. Here are two great resources that the editor recommends on the subject from two of the worlds leading pioneers on safe, simple and consistently effective trauma release work. There is also videos of them discussing their work on youtube:
http://amzn.to/2iW89bi – The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process, David Berceli
http://amzn.to/2k8Wp21 – In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness – Peter Levine
These are not affiliate links and Menprovement does not get paid for recommending these books. They are recommended wholeheartedly from someone who has seen their effectiveness in real life.)