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New Dads Get Depressed Too

Postpartum depression has received a lot of attention in the last decade or so as celebrity moms have opened up about their own battles with PPD, new scientific studies have led to better treatment and several tragic criminal trials have played out in the media. But emerging research is proving what some dads already know: new dads can get depressed too.

Approximately 14 percent of new moms experience postpartum depression, a severe and debilitating condition associated with depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, feelings of hopelessness and being overwhelmed, lack of interest in the baby or irrational concern for the baby, and even the impulse to harm herself and/or the baby.

According to several recent studies, approximately 10 percent of new fathers experience their own version of postpartum depression, called paternal postnatal depression, or PPND. According to PostpartumMen.com, symptoms of men's depression include:

  • Increased conflict and anger with others (including violence or withdrawing from others)

  • Increased use of alcohol or other drugs

  • Frustration or irritability

  • Being easily stressed

  • Impulsiveness

  • Feeling discouraged

  • Differences or discrepancies between emotional experiences and how they get expressed (such as loss or rejection expressed as withdrawal or anger)

  • Increase in complaints about physical problems

  • Ongoing physical symptoms, like headaches, digestion problems or pain

  • Problems with concentration and motivation, particularly related to either school, work, or hobbies

  • Increased concerns about productivity and functioning at school or work

  • Working constantly

  • Feeling conflicted about how he should be as a man and how he actually is - about things like expressing emotions or work and family commitments

Experts aren't sure what triggers postpartum depression - in men or women. Changes in hormones were once believed to trigger PPD in new moms; however, researchers now believe that other factors play a key role, such as a history of depression, marital or relationship discord, social dysfunction, and financial stress. Interestingly, rates of depression are higher for men whose partners are also experiencing depression.

Men are less likely to talk about their feelings and seek help, which experts believe has contributed to this condition being overlooked by doctors and society, and can hinder efforts to diagnose and treat it.

One recent study, published in The Lancet, addressed the possible long-term effects of paternal postnatal depression on children. The study, led by Paul Ramchandani, professor of psychology at the University of Oxford, indicated that boys are particularly sensitive to the effects of parenting by fathers. The odds of young boys having behavioral and emotional problems in early childhood were two to three times greater if their fathers experienced PPND. While more studies are necessary, it is clear that the mental health of new fathers should be more of a concern for doctors and mental health professionals.

If you think you are struggling with paternal postpartum depression, seek help immediately. Talk to your doctor, find a psychiatrist, or find a support group in your area.

For more information and resources, check out the Postpartum Men website.

 


 

Featured Sites:

Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
Susan G. Komen


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