EFFECTS OF POSTPARTUM MOOD DISORDERS
Life during the first year after the baby is born is typically filled with many stressors (see "Life After Baby"
section of this website). Both the mother and father must make significant adjustments in order to cope with
these stressors. Due to the extreme stress of having a baby, the first year postpartum has the highest rate
of divorce than at any other time during a marriage. In addition, the most significant non-biological cause
of PPMDs is marital or relationship difficulties. Thus, when a woman has a Postpartum Mood Disorder
(PPMD), she, her partner, and the entire family system may suffer.
The woman typically feels very overwhelmed and may believe that her partner is not very helpful, even if he
is trying his best to be understanding and/or helpful. The man typically feels frustrated and overwhelmed and
may feel he cannot do anything right. He may be afraid his partner will never be the same again and may
be unsure how to help her (see "For Fathers" section of this website). These intense feelings in the man
and woman may make it very difficult to feel united as a couple.
Because PPMD can have such a debilitating effect on the woman, the man is often left with the burden of
caring for his new baby, his wife, the household, and himself. Although this can be very overwhelming, he
must realize that he is in a perfect position to help his partner seek the professional help she may need.
When mothers and fathers are able to work together to get through PPMDs, the couple's relationship is
likely to be strengthened.
Advice for Couples:
- Listen to one another's feelings. This may seem difficult, but you must try to understand one another's
points of view.
- Plan for some time alone as a couple doing activities that help build your relationship. Arrange for a
sitter or spend time alone after the baby is asleep.
- Talk with one another often- not only about the PPMD and baby, but also about life outside the baby.
- Seek as much information on PPMDs as you can. The better informed you are, the better you will be
able to get the help you need.
- Find qualified professionals to help treat the PPMD. Do not quit until you find someone who is
understanding and educated on PPMDs.
- If communication between you is a serious difficulty, consider seeking couples counseling to work on
- Be patient with one another. Remember, you are both going through this. Go through it together.
**For more information or referrals in your area, please see the "Resources" section of this website.**