Depression following the birth of a baby is something that is usually associated with women, but the fact is that men also suffer from it.
It is called Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPND) and studies estimate that about one in ten new dads get depressed following the birth of a new baby.
Consider the scenario for a new dad. The pregnancy phase was probably a time of excitement and expectancy with the dad-to-be dreaming of being a great dad, a hands-on parent teaching his child all sorts of things.
However postpartum depression can soon set in along with the reality of a squalling infant who seems never to sleep, hogs all of the new mommy’s time and leaves the new dad, sleep deprived, confused, exhausted and angry.
And baby doesn’t even seem to recognize him, much less respond to him yet, which seems to add insult to injury. A new dad is required to quickly reassess his rosy surmises about what fatherhood means and entails.
Why does paternal postpartum depression occur?
Many of the same reasons why women depressed post pregnancy are the ones that cause the problem in men as well. A sharp increase in the chores that need doing around the house and the added pressure of looking after a new born baby and sleepless nights, etc, are common causes. These facts could place pressure on a relationship and the couple may find they are arguing and fighting more often.
Not finding the time to do the things he enjoys, or being isolated from friends, having trouble making things work at office are other reasons why men could slide into depression after the arrival of a new baby. Men can feel trapped in the situation.
According to some experts men also experience hormonal changes after the arrival of a new baby, which adds to the problem of postpartum depression.
Add to this the fact that men are not supposed to get the blues after a new baby. It is the woman who did all the hard work, so what reason does the dad have to get depressed? He apparently is just supposed to be a man and tough it through.
These personal as well as societal expectations may mean that the man hides his feelings and refuse to get help, thereby exacerbating the situation.
Symptoms of PPND
While women with postpartum depression may feel sad, worthless and weepy, men tend to react differently. There could be some amount of hostility and aggression that the man displays. It could be that new father tries to avoid the home and may needlessly spend time at the office or may deliberately increase his workload.
Excessive drinking, substance abuse, or misuse of prescription medications can also be among the symptoms of depression. Risky behavior and even suicidal thoughts could occur.
Postpartum depression in men shouldn’t be ignored. This is not just in the interests of the health and wellbeing of the man, but also for improving the household atmosphere. Research has shown that parental depression increases the risk of mental illness in the child. There is also the potential of abuse in the situation; another reason for the man to seek and get help quickly.