As little knowledge as there is out there about postpartum depression, there is even less knowledge out there about postpartum depression in men. For many people, the idea that men can get postpartum depression is an outlandish one — why would new fathers get postpartum depression if they were not the ones to give birth to their child?
You may be surprised to find out that postpartum depression in dads is possible — and is just as important a mental health issue as postpartum depression in new mothers. Being a parent is not easy, and many people struggle with their new reality without developing depression. But, for those men that do, being a proper father can seem like an impossible task.
In the article below, you can find some helpful information about postpartum depression in men, whether you are a new father yourself or know a father who is struggling with this mood disorder. However, remember that the best information will always come from a medical professional, who can properly diagnose and treat both maternal and paternal postpartum depression. The information in this article is not intended to be and should not be taken as medical advice.
Can Men Get Postpartum Depression?
When new fathers say they feel depressed or anxious after bringing home their new baby, it often prompts the dubious question: Is male postpartum real?
The answer is yes. Just as adoptive and biological mothers can get postpartum depression, fathers (both biological and adoptive) can develop postpartum depression, too.
While there is a certain biological component to a mother’s likelihood in developing postpartum depression (namely, the change in hormones after delivery), there are many other factors that can lead to postpartum depression. Fathers can also experience these factors, which are often related to the adjustment of bringing a child into the home and the new responsibilities of being a parent. It’s overwhelming for anyone, whether or not they were the ones to actually give birth to the child.
While men can have postpartum depression, it is a rarer occurrence than postpartum depression in women. Research suggests that about 1 in 10 men experience paternal postpartum depression after the birth of a child. However, this number may be smaller because of reporting issues; because many men don’t realize that paternal postpartum depression is real, they brush away their symptoms and don’t get the help they need. Or, because society values the idea of a man as a strong provider, fathers dealing with postpartum depression hide their symptoms for fear of being seen as weak.
So, yes, guys can get postpartum depression — and it’s important that they receive the help they need to be the best parent possible during this difficult time.
What Causes Postpartum Depression in Men?
For many people, men and postpartum depression don’t seem to go together. That’s because many people mistakenly believe the postpartum depression only develops after childbirth when, in reality, there are many different causes of postpartum depression.
Every case is different, but paternal postpartum depression is often caused by a combination of a few factors, such as:
- Personal or family history of depression
- Worries and anxiety about being a parent
- A lack of desire to be a parent or raise a child
- Financial problems
- Lack of social or emotional support
- Stress in relationships with family and spouse
- Fatigue and lack of sleep
- Feeling excluded from the bonding between mother and child
- And more
There’s one thing to recognize about male postpartum depression — it is never a father’s fault if he develops this mood disorder. Having postpartum depression does not make you a bad father or less of a man; it makes you a normal human being.
Male Postpartum Depression Symptoms
What is postpartum depression in men like?
The signs of postpartum depression in dads are very similar to the symptoms that women coping with postpartum depression experience. However, research has shown there are also slight differences in how the two genders express their postpartum depression symptoms. While women are often sad and withdrawn, men with postpartum depression are more likely to become irritable, aggressive and even hostile. But, remember: Postpartum depression affects everyone differently, and that is the same when it comes to postpartum depression in dads, as well.
Some other signs of postpartum depression in men include:
- Increased use of alcohol or prescription/street drugs
- Frustration or irritability
- Extreme sadness, including crying for no reason
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Disruption in sleeping patterns
- Isolation from family and friends
- Problems with concentration or motivation
- Impulsiveness or risk-taking
- Thoughts of being a bad father or partner
- And more
If you, as a new father, are having thoughts of harming yourself, your child or your spouse, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-237-8255 right away.
Some fathers experience many symptoms of postpartum depression, while others experience so few they don’t think their condition is clinical depression. Whatever your situation, if you are feeling “off” about yourself or feel like something is wrong after you bring home your child, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional right away. They can determine whether what you are feeling is truly paternal postpartum depression. Whether or not it is, they can offer support and treatment options to help you feel better and be the best father possible. Remember: You are worth it, and you are not alone.