According to studies from the National Institute of Health (NIH), postpartum depression in men, or paternal postpartum depression (PPD) affects anywhere from 4 to 25 percent of new fathers. But there’s a giant man-sized hole in the understanding of PPD. That’s because there are no common diagnostic criteria for paternal PPD. Postpartum depression strikes a lot of dads as well. A 2010 study found that 1 in 10 men gets depression either shortly before or after the arrival of a newborn. That's only slightly lower than the.
1,500 dads per day are diagnosed with postpartum depression. Here's what to do if you think you're one of them.
After childbirth, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of postpartum depression. Sadness, mood swings, guilt, exhaustion, anxiety, stress, and insomnia are a few, and the side effects can make what should be a joyous occasion ⏤ welcoming a new member into the family ⏤ feel downright unbearable. And it doesn’t just affect new mothers. Each year, there are more than three million diagnosed cases of postpartum depression in the United States and some of those are fathers. It’s much more common than many realize.
Can Men Have Postpartum
In fact, a large study was published in 2010 in the Journal of the American Medical Association that shed a bright light on the issue of male postpartum depression. It was a meta-analysis of 46 other studies, and it found that one in seven dads (14 percent) in the U.S. becomes depressed after his child is born. That’s 1,500 dads per day afflicted with depression. Not only that but between three and six months after birth, the risk for dads climbs to 1 in 4.
As is often the case with new mothers, postpartum depression is not easy to spot in fathers. The stereotypical depiction of someone struggling with depression ⏤ constant sadness and crying ⏤ doesn’t apply. “It can actually look like irritability and anger, working constantly, drinking or gambling too much, or other impulsive behavior,” says Dr. Download dilemma by nelly and kelly rowlandaroundselfie. Will Courtenay, Coordinator with Postpartum Support International. “These are some of the ways men experience and cope with depression differently than women.”
That’s not to say new fathers aren’t immune from the classic symptoms of postpartum depression. A sad mood, loss of pleasure in hobbies or sex, a sense of worthlessness, and thoughts of suicide can all be signs of postpartum depression in men, as well. “But we have to remember that men are more likely than women to try to hide their depression, so looking out for any sign of something unusual or out of character is critical,” says Courtenay, who’s also an advisory board member for The Center for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital at Harvard Medical School.
Postpartum In Men
Hiding symptoms of depression, however, is the worst thing a new dad can do. It’s vital that they consult a mental health professional and get treatment for their depression, be it traditional one-on-one sessions with a licensed psychologist or alternative therapy. Research shows that talk therapy is effective in treating depression, as is combining talk therapy with proper medication. “The most important thing is that a man gets help,” Courtenay says. “The biggest problem with men’s postpartum depression is not the depression, but the fact that too many men try to go it alone and go untreated.”
After consulting a mental health professional, there are other ways to get back on the road to happiness. The first step? Getting more (and better) sleep. An inadequate amount of sleep alone can lead to depression if experienced on a prolonged basis. In fact, lack of sleep is believed to be the biggest culprit in triggering postpartum depression.
“When normal, healthy adults are deprived of good sleep for one month they begin to develop clinical signs of depression,” explains Courtenay. “Sleep deprivation results in neurochemical changes in the brain. That, along with the hormonal changes that occur, can combine to create the perfect storm that we see peak in the three- to six- month period. The causes of postpartum depression may not be that different for women and men after all.”
In addition to getting little sleep, other causes can also increase a man’s risk of suffering from postpartum depression, Courtenay says, including “low testosterone levels, a history of depression, a rocky relationship with his partner, and economic problems or stress.” Half of all men whose partners have postpartum depression are depressed themselves.
A lack of support can also increase a man’s risk. Oftentimes, men have fewer friendships than women. For the average guy, his wife is his primary source of support. It’s not surprising that one in three new dads feels shut out from the relationship between his partner and baby. According to Courtenay, over half of new dads report that they feel like their spouses or partners don’t love them as much as they did before they had a baby.
And feeling like there’s no one in your corner can then spiral into feeling overwhelmed and underprepared, which then also increases the risk of postpartum depression. “We’re expecting fathers to be more involved in parenting than ever before, but most dads report being unprepared for fatherhood,” Courtenay says. “So while most dads want to be involved, they don’t really know what that looks like. That leaves new dads uncertain about what to do. That uncertainty can quickly lead to anxiety which often leads to depression.”
Raising a new baby is never easy, but it doesn’t have come with the emotional toll associated with Postpartum Depression. The best way to prevent postpartum depression in men is to mitigate the risks by addressing what we know are potential causes before they occur. Get good sleep, eliminate caffeine if necessary, and, if you have a history of depression, see a mental health professional before the baby is born. Seeing a couples counselor prior to birth if your partner suffers from depression, setting up a budget if money is a source of stress, and increasing your support network by strengthening relationships with loved ones and friends can all be helpful as well.
“The important thing to remember is that all of the negative consequences associated with Postpartum Depression are avoidable,” Courtenay says. “Although it’s a very serious ⏤ and sometimes life-threatening ⏤ condition, with proper treatment and support, men can fully recover.”
Postpartum Depression in Men: A Cheat Sheet
- 1 in 7 dads in the U.S. becomes depressed after his child is born.
- 1,500 dads in the U.S. become depressed each day.
- Lack of sleep is the most common cause of depression.
- Symptoms of men’s postpartum depression can be different than those in women, and can include irritability and anger, working constantly, drinking or gambling too much, or other impulsive behavior.
- The only way to cure postpartum depression is with treatment.
Almost everyone knows that new mothers can sometimes go through postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. There are plenty of articles about the subject online and daytime talk shows often discuss the topic. In women, anxiety and depression can be the result of many factors – sleeplessness, a new routine, feeling like you’re losing control, and radical swings in hormone levels all contribute to the “baby blues.” But, while new moms are the usual focus of postnatal depression, what about the new dad? Can men get postpartum depression, too?
While it would seem unlikely, it is not uncommon for new dads to also go through a period of depression after the birth of their child. In fact, in 2010, American Medical Association (AMA) researchers reported that slightly more than 10 percent of new fathers experience paternal postpartum depression (PPND). That figure is roughly twice as high as “regular” depression rates in the general male population.
Postpartum Depression in Men
In February, 2017 JAMA Psychiatry published the results of a New Zealand study of more than 3,500 men who were about to become fathers. These study participants filled out questionnaires when their partners were in their third trimester of pregnancy and answered follow-up questions nine months after the birth of their child.
The researchers found that while some of the new fathers showed signs of depression, this mental disorder was most likely to be present in the men who reported being in fair-to-poor health or under stress during the pregnancy. All in all, about 2.3 percent of the study’s expectant fathers exhibited signs of depression before the birth of the baby.
When the study follow-up was done nine months after the birth of their child, postpartum depression in the new fathers had increased. At this point, 4.3 percent of the men who were participating reported symptoms of PPND. This postpartum depression in men was not only associated with stress during the actual pregnancy, but had risen due to other factors that happened after the birth, such as becoming unemployed, having a prior depression history, or no longer being in a relationship with the child’s mother. It was also no surprise that the men’s risk increased if the baby had health concerns, was colicky and not sleeping well, or if the pregnancy was unplanned.
The AMA study done in 2010 showed that the men’s postpartum depression was highest in the 3 to 6 months after the child’s birth. Interestingly, researchers also noted a correlation to the depression severity within the family. It seems that the new fathers were more likely to experience paternal postnatal depression if the child’s mother also went through postpartum depression.
New Father Depression Symptoms
The indicators of postpartum depression in men are similar to those experienced by women. New father depression symptoms can include some or most of the following:
- Anger, frustration, mood swings
- Withdrawal from social activities
- Poor memory, unable to concentrate
- Fear that you can’t take care of yourself, your baby, or your baby’s mother
- Low energy, diminished libido
- Changes in appetite
- Sleeping too much or insomnia
- Feelings of guilt or inability to bond with your child
- Feeling helpless, sad, or hopeless
- Physical pain, such as gastrointestinal problems or headaches
- Lack of interest in your normal activities
- Poor hygiene, unmotivated to perform personal care routines
Don’t Ignore Paternal Postpartum Depression
Your depression can have a long-term effect on your marriage or relationship, and on your child. There is research that shows the children of men with postpartum depression can have a reduced vocabulary at age two and can have behavioral and emotional issues, as well. Additionally, men with postpartum depression are less apt to spend time playing with or reading to their kids and are more likely to spank their child.
As with women, untreated PPND can last for a long time. Treatment for this type of depression is most likely to involve cognitive behavioral therapy or talk therapy. If needed, it may also include anti-depressant medications.
Even though much is not yet known about paternal postpartum depression, it helps to know there is such a disorder and that you are not alone. It is normal for men to need time to adjust to a new baby, just the same as it is for the new mother. Because men are not as likely as women to seek help, if you or your partner are experiencing some of the new father depression symptoms listed above, it would be wise to speak with a licensed mental health professional who works with men. Remember: it is not a weakness to seek help. Instead, it shows the strength of your commitment to yourself and your family.
Let Us Help
If you are a new father and are going through the symptoms of paternal postnatal depression, the professionals at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida can help. To get answers to your questions or for more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.