Dr. Stein's Psychology Blog
My thoughts on mental health counseling, therapy, neuropsychology, collaborative divorce and more.
Post-partum depression is a real and potentially serious problem. In my 15 years of private practice in Red Bank, New Jersey it is something that I have seen time and time again. Most guys, and many women, don’t know that it is also one of the most misunderstood mental health issues of our time. Because it is not readily discussed, new parents can be caught off guard by this powerful and overwhelming experience. Typically, prospective parents await their newborn imagining all of the positives, envisioning themselves welling up with positive emotions. They expect to be overjoyed and filled with love when they bring home their sweet baby. However, about 15 percent of women who give birth experience post-partum depression, a problem that extends beyond simply feeling sad or blue. If your loved one experiences post-partum depression, you can take an active role of duty in this endeavor. Here’s how:
1) Secure The Bunk: Make the bed each morning when you wake up. When feeling tired, overwhelmed, and scared, little gestures go a long way. You taking on this little household chore will reassure her that while she and you are taking care of a newborn, she is also being taken care of in a loving way. Also, the baby’s mom may be less tempted to get back into bed if it is already made. A neat bedroom can be conducive to a more relaxed state of mind.
2) Take Charge of Mess Duty: Ask her what baby feeding time is most difficult for her and offer to cover that session regularly. Getting that little extra break can go a long way in lessening the load. When women experience post-partum depression they often feel overwhelmed by the enormity of motherhood and tasks such as feeding can feel monumentally insurmountable.
3) Keep Troop Morale High: Remind her often that you love her and you are a team in this new "project.” With family and friends rushing and gushing to your newborn, a mother with post-partum depression can feel left lonely. Reassuring her that your feelings towards her have not changed goes a long way.
4) Say No To Radio Silence: Text or phone her during the day to show you are still thinking about her. Being in touch even when you are not around keeps her feeling connected. Research demonstrates that the more secure an attachment to others a new mother feels, the quicker she is able to adjust to new demands and recover from depression.
5) Practice Tactical Patience: Tactical patience is giving a situation enough time to develop and unfold before trying to determine meaning. In other words, be patient with yourself, your wife, and your new baby. In non-military-speak, do your best to stay calm, cool, and collected. Stress can be contagious and if you are feeling it, chances are so is the new mother.
6)Move Up The Chain Of Command: In a gentle and reassuring fashion, suggest the possibility of talking to an experienced mental health professional. Offer to make the phone call yourself to set up an appointment, accompany her, or take care of the baby while she takes care of herself.
While post-partum depression can be scary and overwhelming, it can be managed, especially with the help of a licensed clinical psychologist. If you or your loved one is feeling stuck, feel free to call me in Red Bank, NJ at (732) 747-8818 for a free 15 minute phone consultation. I’d be happy to hear about what is happening, set up an appointment, or help direct you to the right person.
I'm a clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist with a private practice in Red Bank, NJ.