While new parents often go through periods of mood swings after the birth of a child, some parents may experience a deep and ongoing feeling of sadness called postpartum depression1. Learn how to recognize the signs of postpartum depression in your partner and what you can do to help.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression can start any time during pregnancy or up to a year after your child is born1. This type of depression is clinically similar to general depression, which is a mental illness that affects a person’s mood and how they feel1. Many moms will experience mood swings, irritability, tearfulness, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating after having a baby. This is known as the “postpartum blues” or the “Baby Blues.” The symptoms of “Baby Blues” are mild and develop a few days after giving birth and resolve within 2 weeks. Unlike the baby blues, postpartum depression can last for weeks to months and may even develop into chronic episodes of depression2. A survey conducted by the Public Health Agency of Canada shows that 7.5% of women experienced depressive symptoms during the postpartum period3.

Signs & Symptoms of Postpartum Depression to Watch Out For

There are many instances where new mothers will resist acknowledging the signs of postpartum depression because they feel that they need to meet the societal expectations of a good mother2. Sadly, many cases of postpartum depression are commonly missed. Learning about the symptoms of postpartum depression will help you identify the signs in your partner if they can’t see them on their own. Some common symptoms of postpartum depression include:2

  • Depressed mood most of the time and on most days
  • Loss of interest in things that normally bring pleasure, including the new baby
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Inability to focus or think clearly
  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Sleep disturbance (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Thoughts of death and suicide, or thoughts that the baby and mother are better off dead

The factors that can trigger postpartum depression vary depending on the person2. Women who have a personal or family history of depression can be at risk for developing postpartum depression2.

How Can I Help My Partner with Postpartum Depression?

If your partner is suffering with postpartum depression, try to support them in the ways that best fit their needs. Helping with childcare and offering help with daily responsibilities can give them a chance to rest and revisit their interests1. Learning how to feed the baby and providing time for them to sleep are two good ways to give your partner a well-deserved break. Your partner may want to be alone more often when they are dealing with postpartum depression1. Be sure to acknowledge their efforts and to be there when they need someone, but don’t forget to look after yourself too1. Talking to a doctor or finding a support group for these situations are great ways to learn how to deal with you and your partner’s emotions1. If you are concerned about the safety of your partner or your baby please seek immediate help from a health care provider.

Eating well and exercising may also help with postpartum depression symptoms4. Preparing healthy meals for you and your partner and going for daily walks can help with low moods by giving you a chance to socialize with them4. Use this nutrient guide for moms to get an idea of what foods to include in your cooking, and find inspiration with our healthy recipes for moms.

Finding the Right Postpartum Depression Help for Your Partner

While helping your partner with daily responsibilities and providing emotional support is important, sometimes the best way to help is to assist them with finding treatment methods. Your partner may be reluctant to find the help that they need or have trouble admitting to how they feel2. Some helpful treatment solutions to suggest for your partner include a type of counselling called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), support groups and in some cases medications known as antidepressants2. Encourage your partner to consult with their care provider to discuss different treatment options2.