Postpartum depression, contrary to appearances, does not only occur in women. Fathers also suffer from it, but this problem is often overlooked and downplayed – both by them and those around them.
The birth of a child is considered one of the happiest moments in the life of both women and men. It involves many months of preparations, making plans, waiting for the baby to be born and wondering how we will perform as parents. However, the situation after the birth of a child is often much more complicated. It also happens that instead of happiness, very difficult emotions appear.
Does postpartum depression also affect men?
Postpartum depression is a disease that is often underestimated among women. However, this is even more noticeable in the case of men. Mood disorders after the birth of a child affect fathers much more often than you might think. However, it is still a kind of taboo topic.
It is estimated that 1 in 10 fathers struggle with perinatal depression – they meet the criteria for depressive episodes of varying severity. These data cover the period from the first trimester of the partner’s pregnancy to one year after the birth of the child. The analyzes also showed that postpartum depression was most common in men when the baby was 3 to 6 months old. For comparison, the rate of postpartum depression among women in the same period is 24 percent, and the first symptoms usually appear during the first three months of the baby’s life.
Depression after the birth of a child in men – who is at risk?
Becoming a parent can be overwhelming – for both women and men. Many factors can play a role in a man developing depression after the birth of a child. One of them is the partner’s postpartum depression. The feeling of “detachment” from the child and its mother may also contribute to this disease – fathers want to be part of the experience of the baby’s birth, but they may often feel rejected (women do not always even realize that they exclude the father from caring for the child). .
A personal or family history of depression is also important. If a man has suffered from depression or another mental illness, the risk of perinatal depression increases. The role of sleep is also important in all this – not getting enough sleep can increase the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Additionally, if the child’s mother suffers from severe depression, the incidence of this disease also increases significantly in the father. The risk of perinatal depression in men is also associated with:
difficult economic factors,
disturbed sleep-wake rhythm.
How does postpartum depression manifest itself in men?
Specialists point out that research and medical assistance focus mainly on women who experience postpartum depression. Although postpartum depression is no different from other types of depression, it may present slightly differently in men than in women. Among men, increased irritability, greater impulsivity and a tendency to engage in risky behavior are more typical. There is also an increased tendency to abuse harmful substances, social withdrawal, and a decrease in resistance to stress. Common symptoms of perinatal depression in fathers include low motivation, withdrawal from relationships, change in work intensity, and difficulty concentrating.
Often, the factor that makes it difficult to make a diagnosis is the man’s underestimation of his condition. In turn, the environment may incorrectly perceive it as a change related to a new stage in life and its differences – a change in the family situation, economic situation and social perception. This disorder can be treated effectively, but it is very important to detect the problem in time. Each type of depression requires the help of a specialist, and often also therapy and pharmacological treatment. Currently, depression in fathers after the birth of a child is a poorly researched issue that requires further clinical observations.