You think postpartum depression only strikes in women?
Nope, men experience depression after the baby is born too. While more rare a condition, if left untreated it can affect both the newborn baby and mom just as much as mom’s postpartum depression can. (Postpartum depression simply refers to an episode of clinical depression experienced after a baby is born.)
U.S. News and World Report has the story:
Ten percent of new fathers and 14 percent of new mothers are affected by depression, says psychologist James F. Paulson, assistant professor of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va. Yet most men and their partners fail to recognize the condition when it arises. The symptoms are similar in both sexes, but the causes may be different. Hormonal changes can contribute to a woman’s suffering, experts suspect, whereas sudden and unexpected lifestyle changes are thought to trigger a father’s depression. “After the baby is born, there’s a change in family structure,” says Thomas Newmark, chief of psychiatry at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J., and organizer of the APA workshop. “There might be pressure to take care of the child economically. The man may not get the attention from his wife that he was used to. And, of course, his sleep is affected.”
Depressed dads are more likely than moms to display destructive behaviors, including increased use of alcohol or drugs, shows of anger, engagement in conflicts, and risk-taking such as reckless driving or extramarital sex. Some, like Hyman, elect to work longer hours.
Other signs: a depressed or sad mood, loss of interest or pleasure, weight gain or loss, oversleeping or trouble sleeping, restlessness, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, impaired concentration, and thoughts of suicide or death. The depression can begin within days or weeks of delivery and last for a year or more.
Who recognizes the depressed dad first? The mom, of course, who sees the behavioral changes in her partner and knows something is up.
U.S. News and World Report also offers these 7 tips to help postpartum depression (in men and women):
- Attending hospital-sponsored parenting classes.
- Designing a financial plan to address expected baby-related expenses.
- Devising strategies for shared childcare responsibilities. The father, for example, may handle a nighttime feeding by using formula or pumped breast milk.
- Addressing marital or relationship issues before the child is born.
- Hiring domestic help or asking a family member to baby-sit once a week.
- Understanding that sex lives change with the birth and may not return to normal for a year or more.
- Joining a support group for new fathers or reading about depression on websites such as PostpartumMen.com, which includes a screening test for men.
Having a baby is huge life change — much larger than most people who go through it for the first time realize. Be prepared and know that postpartum depression is a real possibility — for both moms and dads.
Read the full article: Postpartum Depression Strikes New Fathers, Too
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 May 2008
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Grohol, J. (2008). Postpartum Depression in Men. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 9, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/05/22/postpartum-depression-in-men/