It is erroneously believed that postpartum depression or PPD can only occur in new mothers. But, the truth is that it can also affect new dads, usually within the first year of having a baby [1]. Feeling depressed for a few days after your little bundle of joy comes into this world does not mean you love your baby any less. It often results from the additional responsibilities you face a parent.

What causes male postpartum depression?

Like PPD in women, it is almost impossible to pinpoint the exact factors responsible for postpartum depression in new fathers. Possible causes and risk factors include:

  • Having a partner suffering from PPD
  • Inability to bond with the baby or getting used to the idea of being a father
  • Sleep deprivation due to caring for the baby, especially if you have a colicky baby who tends to cry all the time [2]
  • Going through a difficult financial situation or having a stressful job
  • Becoming parent at a young age [3]
  • Having a stressful relationship with your partner or any other family member [2]
  • Researches show that women are not the only ones to experience lowering hormone levels after childbirth. The testosterone levels in the fathers go down as well while the estrogen and prolactin levels go up, leading to symptoms of depression [4]
  • History of a stressful event in the recent past
  • Unplanned pregnancy and baby

What are the symptoms of postpartum depression in men?

  • Feeling down all the time
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Insomnia (inability to sleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness) [5]
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating on anything [6]
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Anger, irritability and frustration
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Physical symptoms like digestion problems and headache
  • Unexplained crying spells [4]
  • Inability to make any decision
  • Feeling of worthlessness
  • Feeling resentful towards the baby which also makes you feel guilty [4]
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself
  • Working constantly (to take the mind off of the depressive thoughts) [5]

Postpartum depression treatment in men

The psychotherapy procedures used for managing PPD in men are the same as those used for treating women. Talk to your mental health care provider to find out what treatment measure your respond best to [3]. Antidepressants may also be necessary for managing severe depressive symptoms in some rare cases [2]. The depression management measures used by women (e.g. getting lots of sleep and following a healthy diet) are recommended for men as well [6]. Talking to other dads about how to be a good parent to your child can help you to better deal with the situation [3]. Alternative therapies like exercise, yoga, massage therapy and acupuncture [7] can also prove helpful.

Does postpartum depression in the father affect the baby?

You may not know it yet, but you are as important for your baby as the mother. Dads affected by postpartum depression are less likely to spend time with the baby, play with them and read to them. This may have a negative impact on the character development of the baby as well as the father-child relationship [6]. According to researches, untreated PPD in fathers can be associated with poorer behavioral, emotional and social outcomes in kids, especially in boys, when they reach 3 years of age [8].

Long Term Prognosis for Postpartum Depression in Men

Proper support and therapy can cure the condition within a few months [9]. But, leaving the condition untreated can lead to permanent depression, resulting in long-term ill consequences on the whole family [6]

Postpartum Depression Incidence in Men

Studies show about 14% of new fathers in the United States to get PPD shortly (often within 6 weeks) after their babies are born. The statistics goes up to 25% within 3-6 months after birth [4].

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