As a public health nurse I speak to many parents struggling with their adjustment to being a new parent. They experience many different feelings, ranging from joy and excitement to guilt and sadness. Sometimes these feelings become so difficult that they start to feel overwhelmed and helpless.
Many times it is the partner who is the first person to notice that something is just not right. One partner described it as “they are just not acting like they used to” and “they are not happy which is making me unhappy too”.
If this sounds familiar, your partner may be experiencing a type of depression called postpartum depression and anxiety. Remember, you didn’t cause this to happen. You are not to blame.
Postpartum depression is a real illness. It’s not something that you can wish away or something that just goes away on its own. But you have an important role in your partner’s recovery.
There isn’t a quick fix, but there is help:
- Learn about the signs of depression and anxiety – awareness is the first defense
- Listen – just being there is a lot; ask how you can help
- Encourage sleep –it is the most important step to helping your partner get better
- Get help together – be prepared for a long recovery, it can’t be fixed overnight
- Take care of yourself – when you are in a good place, you make a better partner and parent
- Ask for support from family & friends
- Keep believing and trusting – your partner will get better