Postpartum in women commonly happens, especially for first-time mothers. However, do you know that postpartum depression can also occur in men?
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Known as Paternal Postnatal Depression (PPD), researchers from the American Medical Association found that 10% of fathers experience the PPD during the first trimester of pregnancy. Additionally, the number spikes by 26% during the first three to six months after the baby is born.
The research also broke the stigma that says only women experience postpartum depression. However, paternal postpartum depression in men differs from postpartum depression in women.
Understanding Male Postpartum Depression
For mothers, postpartum period occurs when the hormones are starting to fluctuate. Similarly, for husbands, the hormonal changes also occur during the early pregnancy period. The levels of testosterone decrease while estrogen levels increase.
This ‘bottled up’ stress in men makes them biologically predisposed to depression. Unfortunately, these hormonal changes continue even after the baby is born.
Not only does it occur during hormonal changes, but the PPD also occurs also due to anxiety and attention changes from the partners. Husbands feel deprived of the attention that their partners usually give to them before the pregnancy. This attention deprivation may cause anxiety in men. This is why the PPD occurs more often in first-time dads.
Other factors that may trigger the PPD in men include the pressure to support both child and partner, also the fear to take in more responsibility to the family.
What are the Signs of Paternal Postpartum Depression?
The easiest way to detect the PPD in husbands is through the partners. In most cases, wives who experience the postpartum anxiety involuntarily ‘spread’ the depression to their partners.
It is a little bit more challenging to detect postnatal depression in men as they tend to bottle up their intense moods. However, it is important to notice that postpartum depression differs from the daddy blues. The daddy blues is a short-term sadness that is often experienced by new dads and usually cured by distractions.
Daddy blues is not the same as the postpartum depression. Typically, if the fathers are severely sad for longer than three weeks, that may be the indication of the paternal postpartum depression.
Like clinical depression, the postpartum depression also requires psychiatric attention. If left unattended, the PPD in men may worsen.
Below are the most common symptoms or signs that indicate the paternal postpartum depression in men:
- Mood instability caused by a consistent lack of proper sleep
- Sudden changes of relationship with the spouse
- Relationship issues with the babies
- Sudden increase or decrease in appetite
- Increased dependency on alcohol and other substances
- Suicidal thoughts
- Harmful thoughts towards the spouse or the babies
- Loss of interest in work and other things that used to be enjoyments
Coping Strategies and Treatments
For fathers who are suffering from the PPD, do not worry! There are ways to deal with the depression as well as treatments to be free from the postpartum period.
It is never too late to talk about the depression to the partners. Sharing the feelings does not necessarily mean that you are complaining. It is always good to have an extra pair of ears to release the stress.
Although it may not permanently ‘cure’ the PPD, dads can also try and find distractions to lighten up the mood. A good workout at the gym, Friday night’s out with friends, or yoga medication may help with the PPD.
The PPD can also be handled by professional help. Normally, therapy sessions are scheduled with a combination of medications.
If you know someone with PPD or are experiencing it yourself, it may be hard to find the right therapist. Now you can use Okadoc to find the therapist near you to talk about your postnatal anxiety.
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