The Truth About Postpartum Depression in Fathers

The word “childbirth” typically conjures a variety of images. Consideration can evoke pictures of swollen bellies, tiny swaddled humans and hospital paraphernalia (if we want to get real). However, what is forgotten? The use of the F-word: Fathers. Particularly troubling is the lack of focus on fathers during the postpartum period.

For me, emphasis on my well-being in the postpartum period started early. During OB visits, I was greeted by surveys asking me questions about how often I cried or if I felt more anxious or angry than is typical.

During childbirth prep classes and impending parental support circles, both my husband and I were asked to carefully monitor for any changes in my mood or functioning following the main event; however, in all nine months of preparation, nobody mentioned what changes he could expect.

I get it, ladies; our bodies are changing, hormones are fluctuating, and it’s our bodies that will excise a brand new person. But, the truth is about 10 percent of new fathers experience symptoms of depression following the birth of their child. Up to half of men who have partners with a postpartum mood disorder will go on to develop a mood disorder themselves. Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious condition that can result in damaging, long-term consequences for the individual, child and family unit if left untreated. A depressed father can mean a lack of support for mom, both emotionally and physically. It can also mean inhibited bonding with the baby as well as disrupted attachment.

The good news? PPD is very treatable. Being aware of the signs and symptoms can help new fathers and families to identify when PPD is a concern;

1. Feelings of hopelessness

2. Sadness

3. Anxiety

4. Anger or irritability

Starting a conversation around the hallmarks of PPD can help to inform fathers of when to seek support and identify paths to recovery. If you or a loved one has been impacted by a postpartum mood disorder, contact Postpartum Support International for a listing of area resources.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Photo by Katie Emslie on Unsplash

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