Many people are familiar with postpartum depression in women but postpartum depression in men is hardly ever talked about. A new baby is a wonderful blessing but the demands of parenthood are very stressful and can be overwhelming to both parents. Mothers and fathers share many of the same stresses.
According to one of the few studies in the area of paternal depression, in general, 14% of American men develop depression either during their partner’s pregnancy or during the first year postpartum. About 8% of fathers in other countries develop paternal depression. The problem seems to heighten when babies are 3 to 6 months old. During this time, 25% of new fathers and 42% of mothers report depression. If a mother experiences postpartum depression, the father is at much greater risk of experiencing depression as well.
Sleep deprivation is a strong contributor to depression. Research shows that any healthy adult that goes without good sleep for a month, is at increased risk for experiencing depression. In addition, the hormonal changes that occur after childbirth can cause depression in both women and men. Women experience a sharp decline in progesterone and estrogen but men also experience a decline in testosterone.
Unfortunately, fathers experiencing depression are less likely to seek help then mothers. Mainly because, in general, men avoid treatment for mental health. Also men experiencing depression often have symptoms that are unique from women. Some of the symptoms of depression in men may include:
- Increased anger and conflict with others
- Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
- Frustration or irritability
- Violent behavior
- Losing weight without trying
- Isolation from family and friends
- Being easily stressed
- Impulsiveness and taking risks, like reckless driving and extramarital sex
- Feeling discouraged
- Increases in complaints about physical problems
- Ongoing physical symptoms, like headaches, digestion problems or pain
- Problems with concentration and motivation
- Loss of interest in work, hobbies and sex
- Working constantly
- Frustration or irritability
- Misuse of prescription medication
- Increased concerns about productivity and functioning at school or work
- Experiencing conflict between how you think you should be as a man and how you actually are
- Thoughts of suicide
Some men may only experience a few symptoms and others may experience many. What ever the case, it is important to know that the symptoms are treatable and help is available. For more information see the links below.
Sources and Additional Links:
Postpartum Depression Hits as Many Dads as Moms
Prenatal and Postpartum Depression in Fathers and Its Association With Maternal Depression
Helping Men Beat the Baby Blues and Overcome Depression
Postpartum Depression in Men | Video – ABC News
Postpartum Depression in Men: It’s Real
Postpartum Depression Strikes New Fathers, Too
Resources for Fathers
Information on this web site is for educational purposes only. It should not substitute for a comprehensive evaluation by a licensed mental health professional.