Post Partum Dads
Post partum depression is a clinical depression that happens after childbirth. It's more commonly seen in women, but men can experience it too.
A 2010 article published by James F Paulson in Psychiatry Times said that prenatal and post partum depression wasn't limited to women and that new fathers can experience it too. The statistics for the number of men who experience post partum is broad, according to the article, with the incidence being as low as 1.2 percent to as high as almost 30 percent.
The same psychologist is quoted in the US News and World Report as saying that 10 percent of new fathers experience depression. James F. Paulson, assistant professor of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia medical School in Norfolk, Va. said that the symptoms in men are the same as the symptoms of post partum depression in women, but the causes are often different.
Post partum depression in men is becoming a more recognized condition and now has its own name. It's referred to as Paternal Postnatal Depression or PPND.
What Causes Paternal Postnatal Depression?
In a nutshell, hormones often cause the mother's depression, according to Paulson, but sudden lifestyle changes can cause the depression in men.
Thomas Newmark, chief of psychiatry at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J. elaborates by saying that the pressure to care for a child economically can drive a man into depression. Lack of sleep and a lower level of attention from his wife than what he is used to can also be triggers for post partum depression in men.
12 Symptoms of Post Partum Depression in Men
A US News and World Report says that destructive behaviors are more common in depressed men than they are in women suffering from post partum depression. These destructive behaviors include unusual displays of anger, alcohol or drug abuse, risk-taking acts and trying to find conflicts. Some men throw themselves in their work and begin to work excessively long hours so they don't need to be home as much.
Other symptoms of depression in new dads include:
· Significant weight loss or weight gain
· Difficulty sleeping
· Extreme fatigue even with over-sleeping
· A feeling of sadness
· Feelings of guilt and/or worthlessness
· Thoughts of suicide
· Extreme fatigue and low energy
· Loss of interest or pleasure
· Inability to concentrate or make decisions
· Non-stop restlessness and the need to be on the move all the time
· Ongoing physical pain or problems (headaches, digestive issues)
· Misuse of prescription medication
Depression in new fathers begins within days or weeks after the delivery, just like post partum depression in women. It can last for months or longer than a year.
To be diagnosed with depression, the new father must have five or more of these symptoms over at least a two-week period of time and the symptoms must interfere with the person's life.
My Partner's Depressed. Now What?
One of the first people who will notice the signs of depression in a man is the female partner.
If this is the case, it's important to encourage your partner to get professional help. Do not belittle him. His depression is very real. Try not to focus on how difficult your pregnancy was, that you went through a grueling labor and that you're not getting any sleep because you're up all night breastfeeding.
He may already be feeling like he needs to be the rock and be there for you because of your difficult experience. He may be feeling worthless and guilty because he can't provide you with what he thinks he should be able to give you.
Recovery is possible, but not if the man or his partner have a "get over it" attitude. Getting help when you need it is a sign of strength and nothing to be ashamed of. Find a licensed mental health professional in your area and ask them to refer you to someone with a specialty in treating men and depression. Your family doctor may also be able to suggest someone.