By now, most people have heard of the far-reaching effects of postpartum depression in mothers. After a woman has a baby, she is screened multiple times using a special questionnaire, and partners are taught to look for differences between the more normal “baby blues” and full-blown postpartum depression. One thing that hasn’t been spoken of much in our society, however, is postpartum depression in fathers, which, it turns out, is more common than we think.
Although it seems like a wide range, anywhere from 2% to 25% of dads suffer from postpartum depression. If their partner is depressed, this number skyrockets to about 50%. That is a lot of men who are feeling the toll of parenthood, isolation and other emotions when a new baby takes up residence in the home. The difference may be, however, that dads’ emotions don’t get addressed, and they may not realize what they’re feeling is serious.
What are the risk factors?
Men who had a strained relationship with their fathers are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression once they step into the role of fatherhood. A lack of social support and financial or work stress can also contribute to these feelings. A history of depression can be a huge factor, but it is important to know that this background isn’t always the case. Many times, a new baby means a huge change in the marital relationship. This is mostly marked by a decrease in attention and intimacy from their spouse, which can also lead Dad to depression, feelings of jealousy, or difficulty in developing a bond with Baby.
Are men’s symptoms different from women’s?
As with women, postpartum depression can manifest itself in myriad ways in men. Some new fathers may cry for no reason, while others may act out in frustration or anger. Significant weight loss, withdrawal from family and friends, a quick fuse, and problems concentrating are other possible symptoms. It’s important to remember that this is a diagnosed medical condition and nothing of which to be ashamed. Many men who have never had a mental issue are surprised to find that they’ve developed postpartum depression.
A father who suffers from postpartum depression may, like a mother, have difficulty bonding with their baby and other children. This can have far-reaching effects, especially if both parents are suffering from this condition. Therefore, it’s extremely important for a man to get the help he needs in regard to his mental health. Many doctors are now using the same postpartum questionnaire, the EPDS, for both men and women.
Postpartum depression in fathers may seem rare, but it is much more common than we think. The key to managing this mental disorder is seeking help from a trusted healthcare provider. Furthermore, partners can help watch for various signs and symptoms. A father may feel ashamed to admit his feelings to his partner or may feel alone in his lack of bonding. However, an important thing to remember is, statistically speaking, you are not alone. It’s important to get help so that you and your partner can joyously continue on as a family in raising your new baby.