Many people may wonder whether or not men can suffer from postpartum depression. In reality, men are susceptible to postpartum mood disorders after the birth of their child.
Unfortunately, there is not much awareness surrounding postpartum depression in men because it is not as common as PPD in women. The condition often goes undiagnosed and untreated.
Approximately 25% of new fathers will suffer from symptoms of postpartum depression. However, only about 10% of cases are recorded. The condition in men is referred to as paternal postpartum depression (PPPD) or paternal postnatal depression (PPND).
If you suspect you or your loved one is suffering from paternal postpartum depression, educate yourself on the symptoms and treatment options available for new fathers. This can help prevent men from suffering in silence.
Symptoms of PPD in Men
The first step of seeking treatment and getting help for paternal postpartum depression is knowing the broad range of symptoms that can affect new fathers. It is also important to know the difference between paternal postpartum depression symptoms and “Daddy Blues” symptoms.
“Daddy Blues” is very common in new fathers. Fathers often feel stressed, overwhelmed or tired. However, symptoms go away within a few days once the father is able to take time for himself, exercise or visit friends.
Paternal postpartum depression symptoms are much more severe and long-lasting. They do not go away just by getting out of the house.
Common symptoms of paternal postpartum depression include:
- Withdrawing socially
- Trying to focus more on work or other distractions
- Consistently low energy and fatigue
- Feeling unmotivated
- Changes in sleep, weight and appetite
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Headaches and stomach aches
- Feeling easily stressed or frustrated
- Violent or aggressive behavior
- Impulsive and risky behavior
- Anger and irritability
These symptoms may occur in men at any point during the first year after the birth of their child.
Risk Factors of PPD in Men
Men who suffer from paternal postpartum depression may not understand how it developed. Similar to postpartum depression in women, there are many potential risk factors that contribute to PPD in new fathers.
The risk factors of paternal postpartum depression include:
- A continual lack of sleep
- Changes in hormones
- High-stress lifestyle, including career and family
- Relationship tension with spouse
- Poor relationship with in-laws
- Lack of support from his own parents
- Being part of a non-standard family (i.e., unmarried men or stepfathers)
- Financial stress
- History of depression
- Feeling excluded from the bond between mother and child
One of the biggest risk factors for paternal postpartum depression is the development of postpartum depression in the mother. Half of all men who have a spouse suffering from postpartum depression will be depressed as well.
Diagnosis for Men
Men often have a difficult time discussing their postpartum depression symptoms. This is more common if their partner, the mother, is also suffering from PPD. In these cases, many men hide their feelings in an attempt to reduce the burden of their spouse’s condition. Men may also feel ashamed of and confused by their postpartum symptoms. Therefore, they are reluctant to seek medical help.
In any case, it is difficult to diagnose postpartum depression in men. However, reaching a diagnosis and seeking help is critical for the relationship of the couple and the future of the child.
Treatment for Men
Men with paternal postpartum depression must be equally proactive in seeking help. Men should know that what they are experiencing is normal. There is no shame in feeling depression or anxiety after the birth of a child. It is a huge lifestyle change that brings extreme emotional shifts.
Like women, men have access to PPD medications like antidepressants. Men should also explore the option of counseling, therapy or support from other mental health professionals.
There are many postpartum depression support groups available that cater specifically to men. These groups provide a safe space for men to talk about their concerns and feel understood by others with similar experiences. Men can also participate in family-oriented support groups, such as postpartum support groups for couples, to help learn healthy coping and relationship skills.
Self-Help for Postpartum Depression in Men
Self-help practices are excellent ways to reduce stress and depression symptoms.
Examples of self-help practices include:
- Regular exercise
- Healthy eating
- Getting enough sleep
- Practicing yoga
Men should also strive for open communication about their feelings so that they do not become closed off and worsen their condition.
Paternal postpartum depression can be a serious and severe condition, but it is treatable. Seeking professional help is often not enough. Implementing self-care practices helps ensure that men going the extra mile to recover from their depression. Like women, men deserve recovery for their own personal health and the health of their family.