My wife is suffering from postpartum depression and has been on antidepressants for two weeks now.
It all started with tiredness and not being able to concentrate. I work more than full time, and she stays at home, but I noticed that whenever I was home, she left the baby care up to me and showed little interest in being with our son.
I am glad she is receiving services now, but things have not turned around radically. She still has very bad days.
I am worried about my wife. I frankly feel pretty powerless. Nothing I do seems to help. I am also worried about how her postpartum depression will affect our son later on.
How can husbands help their wives fight postpartum depression?
It is good that your wife started getting treatment as soon as you both recognized the signs of postpartum depression. Some things you need to know are:
- Research shows that mothers suffering from postpartum depression have better outcomes sooner if they have the constant support of their loved ones, and you're one of the most important people in her life. Please support her as much as you can.
- Don't expect anything from your wife right now. Pressure will only make it harder for her to get better.
- Spend as much time with your son as you can. This is important to him. A secure attachment now sets him up for life, and because your wife is depressed at the moment, it is even more important that you are there for him right now.
The way I behaved when I had postpartum depression... I'm surprised that our marriage survived at all. My husband kept telling me he loved me and everything would be fine, and let's just say... I wasn't in any position to take it well. Everything he said, I picked apart and turned around. The best thing you can do right now is just to listen without saying too much, and to verbally acknowledge that you know she's feeling the way she is feeling. Saying everything will be fine, she can interpret that as "get better now or else" or "it's all in your head, honey", so maybe stay away from saying that. :)
The best thing you can do is quietly pick up what she can't do, and just listen.
What you can do right now depends on, well, what you can do right now.
It would be really awesome if you were able to take some time off work to just be with your wife and the baby, and do things like take her to medical appointments, just look after the baby, cook, do the laundry, and so on. If you can't take time off work, you can still call her a few times a day to ask how she's doing, and ask other people to come help out around the house.
Another very important thing that really helped me back in the day, when I had postpartum depression, is to sleep in another room with the baby. My husband was a star at getting our daughter to sleep and helping her stay that way, and it was so nice to be able to count on an uninterrupted night's sleep.
Your wife is already in treatment for postpartum depression - both antidepressants and therapy, by the sounds of things. She clearly has a supportive husband. In short, your wife is already in a very good position to start getting better.
One thing you can maybe do for yourself, if this is available in your locality, is to join a support group for relatives and partners of mothers suffering from postpartum depression. This should give you an outlet to vent your worries, and help you get more tips on how to support your wife through this difficult time.
I would also like to encourage you to see this situation as temporary. This will pass. Tomorrow might not be better, but next year most definitely will.
Thanks for your help so far.
I already do all of the housework at the moment, to the extent I have time and to the level of keeping us afloat, really. Laundry and cooking are taken care of. That is really the least of my worries right now. We could look into getting a cleaning lady, but that's not really what I am worried about now.
I appreciated the tips on "what not to say". My wife does seem to be in the habit of understanding things I say to her the wrong way at the moment, but I know that is the postpartum depression talking. Her personality did a 180, really, but I am already starting to see glimpses of her old safe again and I am hopeful that will continue to get better.
Judging by your posts, it really sounds like you are already doing everything in your power to help your wife fight her postpartum depression. You're understanding, you pick up the slack, and you're taking care of your son when you're at home.
The only trap to watch out for is this — your wife's postpartum depression is going to be taking a mental toll on you as well. This is something I forget to mention before, so I thought I should add it. Don't be surprised if you suffer from a case of caregiver fatigue. Since you are the pillar everything else rests on as of now, just make sure that you take care of you, too.
You are right. There have been moments where I think to myself, "why can't she just...?". But I know they are irrational thoughts and I do not act on them by telling my wife anything hurtful, as far as I know.
But I get what you are saying. I need to stay sane and healthy, for all three of us. I do have an outlet in work, luckily. Last year, you would have heard me complain about how much I work, but now, I can say I am grateful that I am not subject to the same environment all day.