How you can help if your partner has postnatal depression
You can play a crucial role in spotting the signs that your partner is becoming depressed and getting help. You and your partner will receive support from a health visitor during the early days of your babies’ life. Health visitors undertake screening of new Mums for PND, usually about 6 weeks after your baby is born, and they can provide helpful information, advice and signposting to support groups.
The following tips may be useful
- give your partner time and space to talk about how they are feeling;
- don’t be dismissive of what she is saying - her fears and anxieties are real
- organise some ‘me time’ for her
- encourage her to get plenty of rest
- encourage her to spend time with other family members and friends
- supporting her to go along to appointments with doctors or other professionals
- avoid leaving her for long periods of time without company
- take on a bit more around the house
- encourage her to look after herself by eating regularly, drinking plenty of water and talking a break now and then
- Suggest she makes contact with other new mums or mums who have experienced PND
It is important for you to know that, very rarely, women can suffer a condition called postpartum psychosis. This is a rare condition, affecting one to two women in every 1000 births. Although it is rare, it can be very serious.
Postpartum psychosis is usually experienced within the first month after the birth of your baby. It is common for symptoms to develop in the first few days. At first your partner may feel elated (extremely happy) or overly anxious.
If your partner develops postpartum psychosis, they may either feel that they are not interested in their baby or they may feel negative towards them. This may include feeling like harming themselves or the baby. They may seem to have lost touch with reality. If your partner experiences any of these thoughts, please let your health visitor, GP or family know immediately to make sure they get appropriate treatment.
If your GP surgery is closed you can call NHS 24 on 111.
For women at higher risk of post-partum psychosis, it is important that you and your family are aware of the symptoms as it may be one of you who first notices your partner becoming unwell.