A Husband’s Reaction to PPD

Just a quickie from me today…..just wanted to share this story I came across today over at Momversation that really touched me.  Please read, share with others, and reach out to this dad who is struggling to care for his wife with severe PPD and his baby, while at the same time fighting to prevent depression from taking hold of him as well.

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10 thoughts on “A Husband’s Reaction to PPD

  1. I had a very bad xanax and ambien withdrawal. I was on xanax .25 mg 3x daily and ambien for sleep. I sometimes took 2 ambien to get to sleep. I was prescribed these along with 50 mg of zoloft by my first psychiatrist after being diagnosed with PPD (my daughter was 2 months old). I was experiencing severe insomnia (I didn’t sleep at all) and I also had what I believe were panic attacks (hot flashes while trying to fall asleep and upon waking) — although I now think the hot flashes may have been hormonal. After about a month, I decided to stop the xanax and ambien cold turkey because I feared they would kill me. Within a few hours of stopping I had a severe panic attack while on a plane with my husband and two children. We were on a long haul plane ride to visit my in-laws and I felt like I was having a stroke. My head felt tingly, my extremities were tingly and my heart was racing, my lips felt like they were swelling. I called over the flight attendant who checked my vitals and reassured me that I was fine. I was given oxygen but I was still convinced that I was going to die on the plane with my children fast asleep and that when they woke their mother would be dead. My husband thought I lost my marbles because he had never seen me behave like that. He confessed to the attendants that I was being treated for PPD. My husband kept insisting that I should take a xanax or ambien to get some rest on the plane but I refused, still convinced that I was dying depsite reassurances otherwise. To make a long story short, I didn’t sleep at all for 30 hours, my head and back were burning, I felt like I was on fire and I was now convinced that I had a brain tumor. After we arrived at our destination, my husband took me to the local ER. The psychiatrist there reviewed my meds and replaced the xanax and ambien with valium and increased my zoloft from 50 mg (which is not therapeutic) to 100 mg. I began to feel better within a week. The ER doctor reminded me that the benzos I was on are the same ones that killed Heath Ledger. I’m still get emotional when I think about it. I could have ended up the same as Heath had I not stopped the xanax and ambien and sought out treatment from another psychiatrist. I now know that the strange symptoms I felt on the plane were withdrawal symptoms. I eventually slowly weaned off the valium, under the new psychiatrist’s supervision. I’m happy to say that I’m 16 months into recovery. You can read my earlier post about weaning off zoloft.

  2. I was on zoloft for one year and I gained 20 pounds, even though I eat healthy and have worked out with a trainer for over a year. I began weaning off the med about a year after starting. My weaning process began in November 2009 when I was on 150 mg, and its now April and I’m down to 6 mg (i cut 25 mg into quarters). I will take 6 mg until Monday and then I will be completely off. I still have a little bit of brain spins but I read that taking omega 3 helps so I’ve started taking a supplement. I also started taking a B complex vitamin. The other night I had some insomnia and feared that PPD had come back even though I’m 16 months into recovery and my baby is 19 months old. Turns out I was just getting my period which causes me to become irritable and sometimes have trouble falling asleep. Has anyone else experienced this fear that PPD will come back?

    • Hi again Ann,
      Gaining weight is a common side effect of antidepressants. While I was weaning, I experienced what I thought were vertigo-like sensations. Sounds a bit like your “brain spins.” Though, I weaned completely off my Paxil after my vertigo stopped. My weaning process took about 7 months, but everyone’s experience/situation is different. Omega 3s and Vitamin B complex are good supplements, in general, to take. Please see my response to your previous comment to my Insomnia post.
      Please keep me posted!
      Ivy

      • Ivy, thanks so much for your reply. I do exercise lots and I do sometimes experience “mild” insomnia before I get my period but because I’m down to just 6 mg of zoloft now, I feared it was my PPD returning. Can PPD recur or does it just come back as depression if your baby is over a year old? I finally fell asleep at 1 am. I’m usually a very good sleeper. The next night my sleep went back to normal and I started my period. I don’t want to be on zoloft long term bc of the weight gain and I feel good and don’t have any current stressors in my life, besides raising two active kids. The brain zaps are nothing compared to my xanax and ambien withdrawal symptoms which I also posted about.

        • Hi Ann,
          It is possible that, once a woman has had PPD, her brain chemistry is altered thereafter and she becomes more sensitive to hormonal fluctuations in future menstrual cycles and whatnot. This is what I’ve read (and I’ve read many books on the topic). What occurred on the plane could be a combination of factors, particularly withdrawal (one should never stop any ADs cold turkey) and/or an extreme aggravation of panic attacks that you say you might have been having before you tried to wean cold turkey. I am far from an expert to the point of providing you advice that I think a psychiatrist and/or doctor is far more equipped (and licensed) to do. You should talk to your psychiatrist and/or doctor re: your concerns that PPD may be recurring or the insomnia is due to PMS symptoms (which may be PMDD but you need to talk to your psychiatrist and/or doctor re: that).
          Please keep me posted!
          – Ivy

          • Hi Ivy, after a 6 month wean, I’m officially off zoloft and have been for the past week. My period finally arrived (bad cramps and all) and I feel back to normal, no more insomnia. I’ve always had bad PMS, even while on zoloft, which I think made me more susceptible to PPD. That, and my mom having prenatal depression with her second child. So genetics also played a role. I’m now trying to lose the 20 pounds I gained while on zoloft. It may take some time but I won’t give up. I’m curious how many of your readers gained weight while on PPD and what they did to lose the weight. Thanks again for your support.
            Ann

            • Hi Ann,
              Glad to hear you’re now off the Zoloft w/no more insomnia! Yes, it does seem genetics has played a role in your susceptibility to PPD. See if this keeps happening before each period. If it does, you may want to discuss with your doctor. None of my readers reached out to me concerning weight gain, which gives me the idea to write about this in a future post. I was on Paxil, which also has the potential to cause weight gain for some people, but that never happened to me. In general, exercising (esp aerobic) for 30 min a day (or even just having a brisk, 15-min walk each day…equivalent to about 1 mile) will help. In terms of diet…the usual…eat foods high in fiber, reduce carb intake, and eat small frequent meals throughout the day rather than 3 big meals. Hope this helps!
              Best,
              Ivy

  3. That story on Momversation is a withdrawal story if I ever saw one. Getting off antidepressants is a very dangerous business. I’m sure that man’s wife went too fast and that’s why she became suicidal. Spacing doses out is not a good way to get off. It’s better to cut doses down by very tiny increments and not do the next taper until the withdrawal symptoms from the first taper have subsided, sometimes in two weeks, sometimes longer. If your antidepressant comes in a liquid form that can help. Or you can do a crossover to Prozac which has a longer half life and does come in liquid form. I hope this helps. Tapering information is available on the internet. Few professionals really understand it. Good Luck. I hope you are one of the lucky ones for whom discontinuation is relatively mild. For many people it’s worse than the original presenting symptoms as the story on Momversation indicates.

  4. Hi Ivy, I really love your website. I too am a PPD survivor after the birth of my second child. I was wondering about weaning myself off antidepressants. I have been taking an AD for about one year. Can you share your experience with AD? Also, is it true that SSRIs cause weight gain? Thanks.

    • I’m glad you like my blog. For me, the SSRI I took (Paxil) did not cause weight gain. The side effects listed on many, if not all, of the SSRIs include weight gain. It may happen to some, but not others. I took Paxil for about a year total. About 6 months into it, I felt well enough for the doc to reduce my dosage. It took me another 7 months to get off the medication completely. At some point, I took the medication every other day and then every 2 days and then every 3 days. During the weaning off process, I experienced what I thought had to be vertigo…the sensation of losing balance while walking and everytime I turned my head. It is critical that you wean yourself off the medication in close consultation with your physician. Some people need to stay on the medication longer than others. Everyone’s situation is different. I hope you will be successfully off your medication real soon. I wish you well in you recovery. Feel free to reach out anytime.

      Take care,
      Ivy

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