Post Partum Depression: Information for husbands and families

  • To show your support;
  • To meet her therapist and see who's "taking care" of her;
  • To ask questions, to get information, to receive support;
  • To provide information to the therapist about your wife, your relationship, relevant history, etc.

PPD becomes a family issue. Do not let your wife carry the load of this illness alone. Supporting her decision to go to therapy is vital for her recovery. Remember, therapy for PPD should be short-term. In therapy terms, this usually means 3-5 months. But she should receive initial relief right away. Depending on the severity of her illness, she should start feeling somewhat better in the first few weeks.

Emergency situations

  • If your wife tells you she cannot take this pain anymore, it's a very serious statement that means it's time for an evaluation by someone who specializes in the treatment of depression.
  • Remember, her thoughts are distorted and it is possible that things feel much worse to her than they appear to you.
  • It is not up to you to determine whether she's at risk for hurting herself or someone else. A professional should determine it.
  • Stay with her. Ask her if she feels safe from harm. Help her make an appointment with some she feels can help her. Call her doctor. Do not leave her alone.

The following situations are rare, but warrant immediate intervention. Emergency situations mean you should take her to the closest hospital, call 911. DO NOT LEAVE HER ALONE FOR ANY REASON:

  • Talk of hurting herself;
  • Bizarre thinking patterns, hallucinations, delusions;
  • No sleep in several days. This means NO sleep, usually coupled with manic-like symptoms. Sleep deprivation can worse symptoms;
  • Noticeable withdrawal from all social contact;
  • Preoccupation with death, morbid ideas, or religious ideation;
  • Persistent feelings of despair and hopelessness;
  • Expressions such as: "My children would be better off without me here."

Karen Kleiman, MSW, Licensed, Clinical Social Worker, co-author of This Isn't What I Expected: Overcoming Postpartum Depression and author of The Postpartum Husband: Practical Solutions for Living with Postpartum Depression, has been working with women and their families for over 20 years. A native of Saint Louis, MO., Karen has lived in the Philadelphia area since 1982 with her two children and her husband. After graduating in 1980 from the University of Illinois at Chicago with her Masters in Social Work, she began her practice as a psychotherapist, specializing in women's issues. In 1988 she founded The Postpartum Stress Center where she provides treatment for prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety.

Copyright © The Postpartum Stress Center. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.