Psychologist Questions Postpartum Depression

My wife is experiencing postpartum depression. How can I help her in the recovery process?

My wife is experiencing postpartum depression and is also going to therapy. Can I as her husband help her in any way?

10 Answers

Postpartum depression is hormonal with situational factors contributing to the intensity of the feelings. With the birth of a child, a woman's role and perception of self changes. Sometimes the depression can be endogenous, meaning the individual can be predisposed genetically to this condition. As a husband, be supportive emotionally to the transitions your wife is adjusting to. Be encouraging and supportive.
My experience is that most of the time postpartum is with women who were under nurtured in infancy. They don't recall it, but it left them without an instinct to nurture a baby. They want to nurture a baby, but there's something inside them that doesn't feel it and is saying, "What about me?" Usually, there is also an uncaring husband, who just wanted more children even knowing it would be too much for her. But, she is lucky. You care. You want to help. I would just sit and listen. If she doesn't talk, ask questions. Make sure the baby is not being neglected, because the baby will become another adult with a mysterious feeling of worthlessness.
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As her husband, you have to provide all the loving support you can so that she doesn't feel she will lose you. You can help her find a therapist to work with her postpartum depression. Go through your insurance and/or your friends to help her find a name she can trust.

Billie Lee Orenbuch, LCSW
You can help by being empathetic and thoughtful. Step up to help with duties and chores. There are support groups for women with Postpartum symptoms. Have her contact her OB-GYN for referral to a program or medication to help.
Yes, you can help your wife, which will be helpful to you and your newborn as well. Post-partum depression, as you know, is not uncommon, and should not persist with good treatment. Find out if your wife's therapist is agreeable to you coming to sessions with her. This is a family matter, and discussing your concerns for your wife, for yourself, and for your newborn (if your wife is unable to bond with him, which is sometimes the case), openly and non-judgmentally, would be helpful. If your wife's therapist is not open to this--or doesn't have experience with couples' or family treatment, ask for a referral. It would be helpful for you to ask both your wife and her therapist how you can help. Taking action this way will go a long way towards letting your wife know that you are in this together. Also, if she is seeing a nonmedical practitioner, she should be evaluated for medication by a psycho-pharmacologist to help her recover from this common episode. It should not be needed after she has recovered, but the appropriateness should be explored. Many family members hold back from candid communication with their loved ones for fear they will say the wrong thing and make things worse. The partner then may interpret this as not caring or rejections. Don't be afraid to talk to your wife. But plan out what you will say, you want to nonjudgmentally express your concerns and ask her how you can help. She may be too depressed to answer, but she will take in your caring overture. Make sure you are in a calm frame of mind before discussing. You can always role play what you would say with a friend. Finally, if you are concerned that your child may be negatively impacted, do not hesitate to see your paediatrician, or get additional help in the household in the short-run, while she is recovering.
Possibly, ask her and maybe offer to come to a counseling session if the therapist has ideas also.

Dr. G
Be supportive and listen, even if you don't understand. Be helpful with the baby and if it is a major concern contact your Doctor Immediately.
What a kind man you are. Yes, indeed. Do remind her that this is an all-too-common but temporary condition caused by dramatic changes in her body as well as life changes a baby brings. Perhaps there is a group of new mothers in your area. She might ask her therapist. It is consoling to be with others who understand from their OWN experience, which you can’t share.


Marian Shapiro
Yes, you can be supportive and understanding. If her postpartum continues for more than 8 months then she might have other issues which were not considered. Some women are more emotional than others and can take longer than others. Just know it will go away and life will be back to normal.
Husbands can always be helpful. Try to be as empathetic as you can - listen to her feelings - be a good listener. Make sure she attends therapy as well as see her Medical doctor concerning hormone imbalance, etc. Do things for her at home so she does not feel overwhelmed. Be a good dad and do things for your child so your wife has free time for herself. Help her see the positive in life and things.