Postpartum Depression in new Fathers
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It’s understandable that we focus on mums in the postnatal period but let’s not forget dads who also need support.
Whether it’s sleep deprivation, money worries, new responsibilities, or the relationship dynamic shifting, dads also have a lot to take on board. This is a huge life change for both parents. On top of this, dads might feel guilty about what their partner is going through, knowing they aren’t the ones breastfeeding at 3am or healing from labour and birth
Paternal postpartum depression
New fathers can experience postpartum depression, too. Postpartum depression in fathers is sometimes called paternal postpartum depression.
It can have the same negative effect on partner relationships and child development as postpartum depression in mothers can. It might be associated with anxiety disorders and can adversely affect the father, family unit and developing child
There are no established criteria for PPD in men, although it could present over the course of the year.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression in new fathers
The symptoms of father’s are the same as mothers with postpartum depression experience.
They may feel following symptoms:
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
- Restricted emotions
- Irritability or aggression.
- Loss of interest in work or favorite activities.
- Working all the time.
- Acting distant or withdrawing from family and friends.
- Feeling frustrated, discouraged or cynical.
- Feeling sad, hopeless or overwhelmed.
Hormonal changes in fathers
Mothers’ hormones change a lot during and after pregnancy. But there’s evidence that fathers also experience real changes in their hormone levels after a baby is born.
Hormones including testosterone, oestrogen, cortisol, vasopressin, and prolactin may change in dads during the period after their babies arrive.
Non hormonal Factors
Plenty of non-hormonal factors are play an important role such as:
- One plus one… plus one
- Provider pressure
- Guilt trips
- Just not getting it
One plus one … plus one
Men may be used to being the focus of their partners’ attention. That changes when a baby enters the equation. Moms tend to bond quickly with babies. Dads bond with babies in different ways, and it can take a while. In the meantime, dad can feel like a third wheel.
A new father can feel intense pressure to provide for his new addition, which can ramp up stress around finances and career.
There’s a cultural expectation that new dads should be over the moon. If they’re not quite feeling it yet, they might feel guilty on top of everything else.
Just not getting it
Most new parents get so little sleep and sex that they might start to wonder why they have a bed. Lack of either can take a toll on your mood.
Factors contributed PPD in fathers
Following fathers are more at risk of developing postpartum depression.
- Fathers who are young,
- Have a history of depression
- Experienced relationship problems
- Facing financial issues
- Hormonal changes
Adjusting to a new baby takes time. It’s normal for your mood to be a little rocky in the process. But if your symptoms last more than two to three weeks, consider help from a counselor or psychotherapist.
“Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re helpless,”
Consult with mental health experts
If you’re a new father and are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety during your partner’s pregnancy or in the first year after your child’s birth, talk to your health care professional.
Similar treatments and support provided to mothers with postpartum depression can be beneficial in treating postpartum depression in fathers.
To maintain a positive mood when you’re in the thick of new fatherhood, you should adopt following coping strategies:
- Eat well.
- Rest (yeah, we know, but grab a nap when you can get one).
- Avoid drinking, gambling and other reckless behaviors.
- Talk about your feelings — whether it’s with your partner, parent, sibling or friend (or anyone who will listen without judgment).
PPD has been associated with adverse consequences, yet it is a treatable condition. Clinicians are encouraged to screen for depression in fathers, particularly during the first year postpartum, especially if anxiety or risk factors are present. Antidepressant therapy or psychotherapy have been shown to be effective treatment modalities. Recognizing and treating paternal PPD can improve quality of life for the father and the family unit and decrease the risk for emotional and behavioral problems in children.