Father’s Day: New dads can face postpartum depression too, ladies

Published on: 18 June 2022, 15:00 pm IST

Yes, there is a risk of postpartum depression in new fathers too. Know all about it from an expert.

postpartum depression in men
Men too can go through multiple emotions after becoming a father. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Parenthood is a wonderful experience for both the mother and the father. Their lives change for good after the birth of their little one with the little joys that surround them. However, sometimes, certain situations arise when both the parents struggle with their mental health. The constant fussing of the newborn, the frequent sleepless nights, and the constant overwhelming changes that a new baby brings can lead to a lot of fear and anxieties. Nonetheless, we’ve all heard of postpartum depression in new mothers, but we don’t realize that it may also affect new fathers too. Considering the demanding nature of parenting a child, be it sleep deprivation, new duties as a parent or handling the financial situation, men too can suffer from PPD (paternal postpartum depression).

What is postpartum depression?

It is a feeling of depression that occurs after the birth of a child. Emotional ups and downs, frequently crying, exhaustion, guilt trips, anxiety, and difficulty loving and caring for their newborn are all symptoms of postpartum depression in parents. After having a child, both the mother and the father go through physical, emotional, economical, and social changes, which can lead to postpartum depression.

postpartum depression
Postpartum depression in real. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are the symptoms of postpartum depression in men?

Men and women experience prenatal and postpartum depression in different ways. Men may exhibit certain “typical” symptoms such as exhaustion and changes in sleep or eating habits, but they are less likely to express their emotions publicly. Most new fathers often keep their feelings bottled up, which in turn causes more harm as the diagnosis is difficult.

Also, read: Here are 4 reasons why you got hit by postpartum depression and how it can be prevented

Check out these common signs of paternal prenatal or postpartum depression:

  1. Anger, outbreaks of rage, or aggressive behavior
  2. Increase in impulsive or risky conduct, such as use of substances, like alcohol or prescription medicines
  3. Irritability
  4. Low motivation levels
  5. Having difficulty creating a bond with the newborn
  6. Fear, bewilderment, helplessness, and apprehension about the future
  7. Issues or variations in marital relationships, such as a lack of intimacy between partners
  8. Feeling excluded and resentful of mother-child intimacy
  9. Testosterone deficiency

Causes of postpartum depression in men

1. Inadequate parental education

Most parents, regardless of their socio-economic status, are highly concerned when they bring their child into the world. It is because having to learn to care for a baby presents a significant challenge. To say the least, PPD can spread like a virus, causing emotional stress and anxieties in both the mother and the father. As a result, it is critical for fathers to understand the complexities of parenting, as well as to learn and diagnose its causes or symptoms.

2. Hormonal changes

Fathers, just like new moms, are susceptible to postpartum depression as a result of hormonal changes. When a kid is born, hormones like testosterone and vasopressin may alter in the father too

3. Marital relationship

The status of the marital relationship might undergo a change starting from pregnancy and throughout the transition to motherhood. The state of the marital connection can be broken down into two parts, spousal support and marital satisfaction, both of which can have a negative impact on paternal mood.

Other factors to consider

  1. Fathers under the age of 25 are more likely to have postpartum depression than their older counterparts. Nevertheless, age isn’t the only risk factor.
  2. Financial strains, anxiety, and a history of mental illness are all substantial risk factors.
  3. Depression in the father is often linked to emotional well-being, substance misuse, and social and behavioral issues as well. When a father has PPD with these symptoms, the link becomes considerably stronger and more severe. It can also have a significant impact on the mother and baby’s relationships.
  4. Other factors that increase the risk of PPD in men include baby crying or severe reliance, as well as an uneasy feeling of being abandoned by their partners.
Postpartum depression
Postpartum depression can hamper your married life. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Treatment of postpartum depression in men

Self-help isn’t always enough. It’s possible that the new father might need professional help. Using one or a mix of therapies, during pregnancy and the difficult postpartum period, may help fathers cope well. The following methods can be tried:

  1. Talk therapy, or psychotherapy
  2. Medicine that affects the mind, conduct, or emotion
  3. Couples therapy is recommended, particularly when both parents are depressed or the relationship is in trouble
  4. Exercising, massage, and acupuncture

So, if your partner is experiencing deep feelings of sadness or worry, you should seek the help of your doctor or mental health professional immediately.

Dr Asha Hiremath Dr Asha Hiremath

Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Indiranagar, Bangalore

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