Relationships, Pregnancy, and PMDD
Q: How would you suggest convincing someone to get help if they don't think
they have a problem? My brother and his wife have been married for 1 1/2 years,
and are 5 months pregnant. His wife is showing signs of PMS or PMDD. She has
episodes of extreme rage and emotional upset. She says my brother is "driving
her to get upset." Nothing my brother does is good enough for her, and
she is constantly getting mad at him for anything that may upset her. She seems
very irrational, and has hit my brother when she's having one of her episodes.
My brother said she was moody even before she was pregnant, but now it seems
worse. I know once the baby comes, postpartum depression can be a problem too.
My brother doesn't know what to do, and his wife thinks he's the one with the
problem. Do you have any suggestions?
Dr. Donnica: I am sorry to hear about this situation. Unfortunately, while I have several
suggestions, the only way they will work is if your sister-in-law sees that
there is a problem and that she's a part of it. This reminds me of the quote
about "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink."
Your sister-in-law may have had PMS or PMDD in the past, but that doesn't explain
her behavior now that she's pregnant. Many women are emotionally labile when
they are pregnant -- and others use this "excuse" to simply behave
badly. There is no excuse for hitting your spouse. You may want to advise
your brother that NOW is the time for couples counseling. These things only
get worse after a baby is born. You may also wish to discuss this with your
sister-in-law directly, depending upon your relationship with her. In general,
this is between the couple involved. A nice ice breaker is always "I was
reading something about a couple and the wife was experiencing a lot of emotional
problems and mood swings in pregnancy, and they really benefited from going
to a family therapist BEFORE the baby was born. . ." The other "radical"
thing your brother could do to save his marriage is that the next time your
sister-in-law accuses him of being "the one with the problem", he
could simply agree and suggest that they go to couples counseling together to
work it out.
Click here for more information about depression or other mental
Donnica Moore, MD
Created: 3/9/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.