Male Postpartum Depression: Symptoms, Treatment and More
- Deepanwita Roy
- 3 Min Read
- Fact Checked
You must have heard about women experiencing ‘baby blues’ right after childbirth. But, did you know that 10% of men globally also experience a much more serious condition of postpartum depression or PPD? A study shows depression among new fathers increases by 68% during the first five years of their baby’s life. The fact is, 1 in 4 new fathers in the United States become depressed—which amounts to 3,000 fathers who become depressed each day. Although not many studies have been done in India, but general consensus suggests, fathers below the age of 25 years are more likely to get depressed than their older counterparts.
PPD can take a serious toll on the wellbeing of a family, especially the children. If not identified and addressed on time, it would lead to a much more serious chronic depression. While mothers are inclined to showcase their fear or sadness inward, fathers display different signs of depression; they may feel frustrated or angry, are easily irritable and tend to be more anxious. Depressed fathers are also susceptible to engage in forms of substance use and domestic violence.
Causes of postpartum depression in men
The reason is partly biological; and plenty of non-hormonal factors (or environmental factors) are at play too…
(1) Biological factors: Like mothers, fathers are very much likely to go through hormonal changes. Hormones including testosterone, oestrogen, cortisol, vasopressin, and prolactin may change in fathers during the period after their babies arrive.
(2) Lack of education pertaining to parenting: A lot of parents, regardless of their socioeconomic standing, are worried as they welcome their child into the world. Mothers tend to bond quickly with their baby, while the fathers bond with babies in different ways, and it can take a while. In the meanwhile fathers feel like a third wheel. On top of that, a crying baby, extreme dependence, an uncertain feeling of being unsupported by their partners worsens the situation and makes parenting less of a joy and more of a challenge.
(3) Provider pressure: A new father can feel intense pressure to provide for his new addition, which can ramp up stress around finances and career.
(4) Toll of health & relationship: Most new parents get so little sleep, and lack of physical intimacy; lack of either can take a toll on their mood.
How to identify postpartum depression in men
Do you think yourself or a loved one has paternal PPD? Watch out for these symptoms:
- Have you been uncharacteristically irritable or agitated?
- Have you been distancing yourself from your partner and the baby?
- Have you been drinking, or engaging in other risky behaviors?
- Do you have a personal or family history of depression?
- Do you feel sad, tearful, or uninterested in doing things that you used to enjoy?
- Do you have feelings of worthlessness or have death wishes?
- Do you have more time than usual at work?
- Is your partner suffering from PPD too?
Coping with postpartum depression in men
To maintain a positive mood when you’re trying to embrace fatherhood, try and focus on the self-care basics:
- Eat well
- Exercise regularly
- Rest (yes, might sound unattainable luxury at the moment, but grab a nap whenever you can)
- Avoid overworking or exerting yourself at work.
- Stay away from alcohol and recreational drugs.
- Talk about your feelings- whether it’s with your partner, parent, sibling or friend (or anyone who will listen without judgment)
Most new fathers in India never seek help and wait until the symptoms dissolve with time. Many opt to suffer alone; don’t communicate with their friends, spouse or a healthcare provider or family member regarding the issue they are facing. Due to this, they often struggle with this decision, possibly being irresponsible, placing themselves and the new baby in trouble. Hence, it is advisable that instead of choosing to remain silent, if you have symptoms that suggest you may have postpartum depression, seek help from mental health professionals at the earliest.
Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re helpless. It means you’re doing what you need to do so you can be the best partner, and best dad, you can be. Download the MFine app and consult with a mental health professional online today.