Although it’s normal for most women to have the “baby blues” after giving birth, postpartum depression is a more serious condition that can last for months.
Based on recent research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, postpartum depression happens to 1 in 9 women, and while new mothers may be familiar with the condition, first-time fathers might not realize their partner is at risk.
If you’re a new or soon-to-be dad, here are some essentials about postpartum depression that you need to know.
Mood disorder symptoms
Postpartum depression symptoms include sadness (often accompanied by episodes of prolonged crying), panic attacks, an inability to experience pleasure, reduced appetite, erratic sleep patterns, anxiety about breastfeeding and being alone with the baby, and other negative emotions.
These symptoms usually last for 2-3 weeks, but in severe cases they may persist for several months or a year. Clearly this can affect a woman’s relationship with family, friends, and her partner and make everyone around her feel helpless. In such a scenario, it’s best to consult a licensed mental health professional.
There are several risk factors for postpartum depression, including previous bouts with depression or anxiety, a family history of mental disorders, stressful life events while pregnant (e.g., the loss of a loved one, financial problems, etc.), complications during childbirth, lack of emotional support from loved ones, and mixed emotions about the pregnancy.
Postpartum depression affects women of all ages, races, cultures, and economic statuses, and may manifest even in women who’ve had complication-free childbirths. Some women have a high risk of developing the condition, while some may not experience any symptoms at all, but well-oriented husbands should be on the lookout regardless.
Postpartum depression may worsen if left undetected, and early detection is crucial to fast, effective treatment. So if you notice any of its symptoms, seek help immediately from a therapist who will prescribe the appropriate medications and provide counselling.
Once your partner is diagnosed, she should be encouraged to join support groups for women dealing with postpartum depression and other perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Seeking counseling and support groups can help her recognize and deal with symptoms, reduce negative emotions, and cope with relationship issues caused by depressive episodes.
If you want to learn more about postpartum depression therapies or find support groups in Chicago, get in touch so we can recommend the best options for you.
What you can do
As a new father or a father-to-be, you will play a critical role in helping your partner cope with postpartum depression, so you need to be finely attuned to any unusual behavior after childbirth. But bear in mind that the warning signs of postpartum depression aren’t always easy to spot.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the symptoms, you can offer a much-needed support, assure her she doesn’t have to go through it alone, and encourage her to receive treatment. And you can only do these things when you understand her condition.
It’s crucial for women suffering from postpartum depression to enlist the help of family and friends who can assist with day-to-day tasks like caring for the newborn child, preparing meals, and performing other domestic tasks. This will help her go back to her old routine on her way to a full recovery.
Depression caused by childbirth can turn into a more serious disorder if you or your partner don’t know what you’re dealing with. Postpartum depression is treatable and should not interfere with family life. Consult the mental health professionals at Meridian Psychiatric Partners LLC about postpartum depression and other pregnancy-related psychiatric symptoms.