A pregnant mom recently encouraged me to talk about dads and how they, too, can be affected by something much like postpartum mood disorders.
The term used with dads, however, is paternal postnatal depression.
Did you know that up to 10 percent of dads can be affected by this? If a dad’s partner has postpartum mood disorder, he’s then at double the risk of paternal postnatal depression.
Also, the increased risk of paternal postnatal depression goes up to 26 percent when baby is 3 to 6 months old. Some wonder if this is because it’s the time moms are going back to work, and life changes yet again.
Studies also show that paternal postnatal depression is more common in men who are unemployed, in a difficult relationship, have a history of depression, or are black or Hispanic.
Dads can have symptoms similar to moms, but they can can also struggle as a result of other factors, such as concern over finances, feeling left out (since baby requires so much of mom’s time), pressure to take care of his new family, not knowing how to be a dad or what to do with baby, fear of making mistakes, and so on.
We also know that men go through hormone changes after the birth, including decreased testosterone and increased estrogen.
A study in Pediatrics found that in a child’s first five years of life, the child’s father has a 68 percent increase in depression symptom scoring.
Some common symptoms in new dads with paternal postnatal depression:
- Change in weight or appetite
- Withdrawing from things he previously enjoyed
- Isolating from family and friends
- Low energy
- Easily stressed
- Physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches
- Overworking, to avoid being at home
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Panic attacks
- Behavioral changes. (It’s more common to see crying in women, while men are more likely to display behavioral issues. Studies also show that men are more likely to increase drinking or drugs.)
So what can a dad do? First and foremost, he should take care of himself by following a healthy diet, making a point to get enough sleep and exercising regularly.
He should also talk to his wife about what’s happening with him and how he’s feeling, even though this is often difficult for most men. Dads should also seek care from a physician or therapist.
One article I found interesting talked about how when women get together after having a baby, they will usually talk about how they’re feeling.
Dads, on the other hand, talk about other things—and it’s typically not their feelings.
A helpful website that dads can check out is postpartummen.com, which contains plenty of useful links about paternal postnatal depression.