Dealing with PostPartum Depression

My wife seems depressed now that the baby’s been born…

by Joe Kita

This can be a real puzzler. Guys expect it to be one of the happiest times of life yet for some couples it spirals into one of the most troubling. New moms are often confused by their conflicting emotions and ashamed to talk about them. So it’s up to you to gauge whether the situation needs time or professional intervention. Here’s how to recognize (and act upon) the three general types of discontent:

Baby blues: About 80 percent of women get the blues during the first two weeks after delivery. Common symptoms include mood swings, weepiness, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, and feelings of anxiety. Despite how strange this seems, it’s part of the normal adjustment process and – you guessed it – much of it is hormonal. As you’re well aware, sometimes the reality of ownership just isn’t as exciting as the anticipation of it.

“Your job during this transition period is to be understanding, supportive, and helpful,” says Robin Peavler, M.D., “and that means both physically and emotionally.” So do the grocery shopping, tidy the house, cook dinner, let her sleep late and, at the same time, be as loving and reassuring as possible.

Postpartum depression: This is where things can start to get serious. According to the National Women’s Health Information Center, about 13 percent of new moms and pregnant women suffer from depression. If the baby blues last longer than two weeks and are accompanied by headaches, chronic fatigue, concentration problems, and withdrawal from you and the baby, then she may need treatment to regain her balance. If you suspect this, immediately sit her down, tell her you love her, and delicately ask if she’s having thoughts of hurting the baby or herself. If so, that’s a sure sign she needs a doctor’s help.

Postpartum psychosis: This normally affects women with a history of mental-health issues and is evidenced by rapid mood swings, hallucinations, and trying to harm herself or the baby. No questions here; this is an emergency.