Why doesn’t she just cheer up?


Many couples plan way in advance to conceive. It’s a time of heightened romance (and loads of lovemaking), full of hope that you’ll create the perfect family. For some men, however, after the arrival of the long-awaited baby, they’ll be left mystified by a partner who slips into post-natal depression (PND).

PND can turn the new family dynamic on its head, causing these guys to wonder if it’s caused by moodiness, bitterness, anger or resentment, rather than being a genuine condition.

Men are (usually) less prepared for the birth of a baby, and rely heavily on the input of their partners to come to grips with being a parent. PND changes that. The symptoms can paralyse the new mom emotionally- she goes from being a happy wife to being a ball of misery without energy or interest in either her partner, herself or the new arrival.

The new dad is faced with situations he isn’t sure how to resolve. After all, men tend to be solutions-based: Broken lightbulb = ladder and a twist. PND is not something he can ‘cure’ with a few words of encouragement and a bubble bath.

Neither can he remove the ‘cause’ of the problem- no matter where his depressed partner looks, the baby is there, demanding to be fed, crying to be held, and being a sleep-burglar. Add the side effects of anti-depressants, including loss of libido, and the challenge is magnified.

Most men, fortunately, see the change as totally out-of-character for their partners, and help them to seek medical help or external advice, but, for some men, the changes just seem crazy and selfish.

‘Why doesn’t she just wash her damn hair and get dressed?’ They’ll wonder. ‘Suck it up’, they’ll mutter to themselves: ‘You wanted this, so what’s the problem? Bloody women- never satisfied!’ As they skulk off to the kitchen to put another load of washing on and attempt to cook- things their partners used to do. PND can reveal the worst in a man, rather than the worst in a woman.

PND can take turn the addition of a child into the death of a relationship, if the partner is unprepared and doesn’t understand the hollow soul-destroying emptiness of depression. It’s not moodiness or selfishness, but the implosion of a dream, as the new mom withdraws from the joint-vision of a family.

Take a look below for more post birth and PND articles:

What causes PND?

My life with post natal depression

Your body after birth

Depression beating tactics

If you came across PND, how would you/did you react?
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