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Men's experience of their partners' postpartum psychiatric disorders: narratives from the internet

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Abstract:

Objectives: Postpartum psychiatric disorders (PPPD) can be serious and disabling, and may lead to long-term adverse consequences. Partners of women with PPPD are also affected by the illness, but their experiences are seldom described. The aim of this study was to explore men's experience of women with PPPD.

Methods: Eleven written narratives from the internet were used to analyse men's perceived experience of their partner's PPPDs. Data were analysed using content analysis.

Results: The men revealed a major disruption in their lives. They expressed fear, confusion and anger; they were also extremely concerned about their partners, and felt unable to help in overcoming the disorder. Most of the men described making sacrifices in order to hold the relationship and the family together. Although the disorder improved over time, they were left to face an uncertain future with a woman who seemed to be very different from the person they had known previously. Most of the men gained maturity and increased self-esteem, but for some the result was divorce, custody disputes and loneliness.

Conclusions: The men in this study experienced the woman's PPPD as a difficult time, when everything familiar was turned upside down. Health professionals should pay more attention to men's mental health in the postpartum period. Furthermore, information regarding the possibility of these disorders should be given to expectant couples in prenatal classes. Further research is needed to ascertain how and to what extent this should be included in the education.

Keywords: MEN; NARRATIVES; POSTPARTUM PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Life Sciences, University of Skövde, Sweden 2: Institute of Health and Caring Sciences, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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