Do Dads Get Depressed? A Complete Guide on Postpartum Depression in Men

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Men do suffer from postpartum depression too, a fact that most people do not know and health professionals often overlook. In dads, it is commonly referred to as Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPPD)

Read More: Medical and Natural Treatment Guide of Postpartum Depression

How Common is Paternal Postpartum Depression?

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that it affects about 10% of men globally. It can begin as early as when the partner is in the first trimester through to when the baby turns six months old. However, the peak period is three to six months after the baby is delivered. This is coincidentally about the time that the mom completes her maternity leave and goes back to work.

[Related: Dealing With Postpartum Depression]

According to Postnatal Men, about 1000 men suffer from postpartum depression in the United States every day. The numbers may be significantly lower than that of women, but still, no man should be isolated and left to suffer in silence.

Risk Factors

There is no known specific cause of postpartum depression in both men and women. For women, it is associated with the sharp changes in reproductive hormones after delivery.  In men, testosterone is also thought to play a role. The report of a study published in the Scientific American showed that men with lower levels of testosterone are more vulnerable to depression.

The highest risk factor is if one’s partner is depressed. More than 50% of men whose partners have postpartum depression, get depressed too. A personal history of depression or any other mood disorder is also a significant risk factor. Traumatic life events also contribute to paternal postnatal depression. For instance, according to the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, 45% of men are more likely to lose their jobs than women. Yet, the responsibility of providing for the family is traditionally left to them.

Other risk factors include financial problems, loss of family and partner support, overwhelming expectations at work and home, lack of attention from the partner, sleep deprivation, and a straining relationship or marriage.

How Does it Manifest?

The manifestation of postpartum depression in men is slightly different from women. While women tend to be withdrawn, cry often, are sad, hopeless, and despair, men tend to have impulsive signs. The signs and symptoms include

  • Anger, agitation and irritability
  • Violent and unwary behavior
  • Loss of interest in sexual activities
  • Indulgence in alcohol and substance abuse
  • Work for long hours
  • Extramarital affairs
  • High-risk behaviors like driving carelessly and gambling
  • Lack of motivation and energy
  • Changes in weight, sleep and appetite
  • Thoughts of suicide and death

Some men may express their depression in the classic symptoms of women’s depression by loss of interest in their hobbies, sense of worthlessness as a dad, and social withdrawal. But, it is not common.

Paternal postpartum depression should not be confused with daddy blues. With the blues, one goes through a hormonal and emotional transition which may cause some significant stress.  However, the signs and symptoms are less severe and only last for a very short duration.

How to Fight it

Just like in women, if paternal postpartum depression is not treated, it gets worse and can have serious repercussions that are damaging to the entire family. For the child, growth and development are affected and even worse if both parents are depressed.

Reaching out to the affected dad to open up is the first critical step in dealing with paternal postpartum depression. It is hard to treat anyone who is not willing to be treated since most of the management involves active participation.

Method of treatment used primarily relies on the severity of the symptoms. Pharmacological therapy with antidepressants and non-pharmacological (natural therapy) methods are the most commonly used.

Support groups, regular exercises, getting enough sleep, talking to friends, reading online resources and self-care will also go a long way in supporting the treatment options mentioned above.

4 Support Groups and Online Resources for Dads

1. Postpartum men

Postpartum Men supports dads with depression and anxiety after delivery of their babies. It focuses on providing information resources, self-assessment tools, and online forums for dads to chat. To get help from Postpartum Men, contact them by visiting http://postpartummen.com/contact-us/.

2. Postpartum Dads

Postpartum Dads is an online resource for helping dads and families recover form postpartum depression. They do so by providing information and resources for the recovery period. They have a private Postpartumdads Facebook group that you can join by sending a request with your Facebook name to info@postpartumdads.org. As mentioned, the group is private and only visible to members who have already been admitted.

3. Postpartum International (PSI)

PSI is a large organization in many countries globally and provides support to both moms and dads. It has a chat support service for dads every first Monday of the month. Dads get to talk to paternal postpartum depression experts and get connected to with other dads. Visit http://www.postpartum.net/chat-with-an-expert/chat-with-an-expert-for-dads/ for a schedule of their call-in times.

4. Pacific Postpartum Support Society

This support society provides one-on-one telephone support to dads and families suffering from perinatal mood disorders including postpartum depression. The support line is available only on working days and during working hours. For assistance, please call 604-255-7999.

[Related: Dealing With Postpartum Depression]

10 Tips to Support a Partner with Paternal Postpartum Depression

It is usually hard for men to come out and seek help because some think that it is a sign of weakness. They need a lot of support first to recognize that they need help, to find treatment and to follow through therapy. Here are some tips to take you through that difficult recovery period.

  • When you notice that he is exhibiting signs of depressions as discussed above, do not hesitate to point it out and suggest that he needs to seek professional treatment. Remember you do not have to point out that it is depression. He may get defensive.
  • If you are not successful in convincing him to seek mental health help, call his doctor, explain the symptoms that you have noticed then set up an appointment and accompany him.
  • If that does not work, ask him to at least do it for you and the family if not for himself.
  • Reach out to other people who can help him get through depression like support groups, counsellors, or mood disorders experts
  • Get postpartum depression information resources like brochures and DVDs for him
  • If he is on medication, help him adhere to the dosage and timing
  • Always show concern and listen whenever he needs to talk about something
  • Do not agree to negative thoughts and views. Continue encouraging him to see the positive side. Remind him that the depression will come to pass.
  • Do not be accusatory, judgmental or dismissive of his feelings
  • Seek emergency help if he shows any signs of harming himself or others

Reference Links

http://postpartummen.com/

https://phys.org/news/2011-07-men-jobs-women.html

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/185905?redirect=true

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/postpartum-depression-can-affect-dads/

 

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