- Posted by Jon Harju
- On June 14, 2019
Whether it’s sleep deprivation, new responsibilities, financial concerns, or a shift in relationship dynamics — having a baby is undoubtedly a huge life change for both parents.
We tend to recognize the strain and burden new mothers can face during the postpartum period, but we often discount the impact on many fathers.
Between 5–10% of new fathers in the United States suffer from postpartum depression (PPD), with one study showing the risk goes up to 24–50% for men whose partners suffer from PPD — yet little information and resources are being given to new fathers regarding their mental health well-being.
The stigma surrounding postpartum depression in men
The societal and cultural pressure on men to be stoic and strong as they walk through life’s challenges can leave men failing to reach out for help when they begin to feel anxious, fearful, or out of control. Men have not been encouraged to identify their feelings, not alone interpret them.
The shock and anxiety of being a new parent coupled with the fact that dads may feel guilty about struggling — knowing they aren’t the ones breastfeeding at 2 am or healing from labor and birth — can leave men repressing their PPD experience. Feeling worthless and lost in their new life, men can feel confused, exhausted, lonely, and resenting the baby’s constant needs and attention.
Some common signs of postpartum depression in men
If you are (or know someone) experiencing any of the changes below, please don’t ignore them or struggle alone. Get help. Speak with your partner, family, and friends, and schedule an appointment to see your family doctor or mental healthcare professional.
Common physical signs in men may include:
- trouble sleeping, or sleeping and waking at unusual times
- weight loss or gain
- lack of appetite
Common changes in mental health may include:
- irritable, anxious and angry
- guilty or ashamed
- unable to enjoy things you used to find fun or pleasurable
- isolated or disconnected from your partner, friends or family
Common changes in thinking may include:
- unable to concentrate or remember things
- trouble making decisions or doing everyday tasks
- thoughts of being overwhelmed, out of control or unable to cope
- thoughts about death or suicide
Common changes in men’s behaviour may include:
- withdrawal from family or want to spend more time at work
- use of drugs or alcohol as a way of handling depression.
- no interest in sex
Get the help you deserve
There are many treatments available to help depression ranging from talk therapy to medication. The fundamental thing is that a guy gets the help he needs and deserves from a licensed mental health professional who specializes in working with postpartum depression and men.
Men can get great comfort from online support groups and resources which provide information and strategies for managing male postpartum depression and a place where men can share their feelings anonymously.
”Due to my illness, I spent the first 6 months of my daughter’s life acting like a complete idiot and I couldn’t understand why — it took accidentally reading an article about paternal postnatal depression for me to finally seek help: up until then, my wife wasn’t my biggest fan and I’m still in the process of figuring how to bond with my daughter.” — Steve, author of the blog post People Need To Know That Dads Need Support Too — Time To Change
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