Postpartum Depression in Men
Many people may wonder whether or not men can suffer from postpartum depression as well. The fact is men are susceptible to postpartum mood disorders as well after the birth of their child. Because it is not as common, or well known, there is not very much awareness surrounding postpartum depression in men. Therefore, the condition goes largely undiagnosed and untreated.
However, it is estimated that as many as many as 25% of new fathers will suffer from symptoms of postpartum depression, while only about 10% of cases are actually 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, then it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and treatment options available for new fathers. This will prevent men from suffering in silence when it comes to the effects of paternal postpartum depression.
Symptoms of PPD in Men
The first step of seeking treatment and getting help for paternal postpartum depression is to be aware of the broad range of symptoms that can affect new fathers. It’s also important to know the difference between paternal postpartum depression symptoms and Daddy Blues symptoms.
Daddy Blues is very common in new fathers. Fathers may feel slightly stressed, overwhelmed or tired. But these Daddy Blues symptoms go away within a few days once he is able to take time for himself, exercise or visit his friends.
Paternal postpartum depression symptoms are much more severe and long-lasting. They don’t go away just by getting out of the house.
Here are some of the common symptoms to look for when it comes to paternal postpartum depression:
- 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
For men specifically, these symptoms may occur 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 be confused as to how it developed. But just as with postpartum depression in women, there are a number of potential risk factors that can contribute to a new father developing paternal postpartum depression.
The risk factors of paternal postpartum depression include:
- A continual lack of sleep
- Changes in hormones
- High-stress lifestyle including career, family, etc.
- Relationship tension with spouse
- Poor relationship with in-laws
- Lack of support from his own parents
- Being part of a non-standard family such as unmarried or a stepfather
- 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 whether or not the mother is also suffering from postpartum depression. Half of all men who have a spouse suffering from postpartum depression will be depressed themselves as well.
Diagnosis for Men
Men, possibly more so than women have a difficult time discussing their postpartum depression symptoms. This could be for many reasons including that perhaps their partner, the mother, is also suffering from postpartum depression. In these cases, many men may feel an obligation to keep their feelings to themselves and not add a greater burden to their spouse’s condition.
Many men may also feel ashamed of and confused by their postpartum symptoms and are therefore reluctant to deal with it by seeking medical help. Whatever the reason, it is very difficult to diagnose postpartum depression in men.
But reaching a diagnosis and seeking help is critical for the relationship of the couple and for the future of the child.
Treatment for Men
Men with paternal postpartum depression must be equally proactive in seeking help as mothers must be. It’s important for men to know that what they are experiencing is normal and there is no shame in feeling depression or anxiety after the birth of a child. It is a huge lifestyle shift that brings with it extreme shifts in emotions.
Men also have access to treatments for paternal postpartum depression such as medications like antidepressants. It is also important for men to explore the option of counseling, therapy or the support of other mental health professionals.
Men should also be aware that there are plenty of 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. Similarly, 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 such as exercising regularly, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, meditating, journaling and practicing yoga are excellent ways to reduce stress and depression symptoms. Additionally, men should strive for open communication about their feelings so as not to close off and worsen their condition.
Remember that while paternal postpartum depression can be a serious and severe condition, it is also entirely treatable. Seeking professional help is often not enough. Men must also implement self-care practices to ensure that they are doing all they can to recover from their depression for their own personal health and the health of their family.