My Partner Has Postnatal Depression, How Can I Help Her?

If you are worried your partner may be suffering from PND look out for the following symptoms. Your partner may feel: •    Tearful •    Exhausted •    Trapped •    A sense of hopelessness •    Guilty •    Lonely •    Miserable •    Anxious It can be difficult for you to understand why your partner has postnatal depression so get as much information as you can so you are in a better position to help her. Speak to your doctor so that he can advise you and also think about whether you are suffering from depression too. There are many things you can do to help your partner feel better. You can also ask your friends and family to help. With the correct help, advice and time your partner will begin to feel better and you will too. In terms of practical help, start by encouraging your partner to speak to her doctor about how she is feeling and offer to go with her if she wants you to. If she is prescribed medication encourage her to take it. If your partner is breastfeeding then suggest that she expresses some milk so that you can help with night feeds. You may find that your partner is feeling anxious and afraid of being alone so be with her as much as you can and ask a friend or relative to keep her company if you cannot be there. You and your partner may be feeling very overwhelmed so try and prioritise your time, there are lots of things that can be left to a later date when you are both feeling more robust. Try not to take over entirely but do offer to take charge of some of the things that need doing whilst caring for your new baby. If you have older children help look after them too. Make sure you, your partner and the rest of the family are eating plenty of nutritious food so that you feel well and as energised as you can. As much as is practical, encourage your partner to rest and relax. If she can visit friends or exercise which gives her much needed ‘me time’ it will help her unwind. For emotional support try the following: •    Encourage her to talk so that she is not ‘bottling up’. Your partner can talk to other mothers who may well be going through a similar experience •    Praise her and tell her what a great job she is doing. Avoid criticism •    Ask your partner’s permission first to tell family and friends that she is suffering from PND so that they can help •    You may find that her sex drive has plummeted but she will probably appreciate a massage or cuddle •    Do try and think of her as your wife or girlfriend rather than the mother of your child •    Remind her that PND is very common and she is not alone •    Be sensitive and listen to her •    Reassure her that with time she will get better As a partner supporting someone with PND you are under a lot of pressure so be kind to yourself too. Get advice and help from your doctor.

By Eirian Hallinan