Having established that post-partum depression (PPD) is an intense emotional feeling of unhappiness experienced by at least 7 out of 10 new mothers, it’s interesting to learn of the twist in PPD. New dads can experience post-partum depression too! The saying is true; depression is no respecter of gender.
Too many new dads’ worry that the birth of their newborn changes everything. Their routines, hobbies, hang out with friends and relationship with their partners. They may start staying longer hours at work, to avoid dealing with the reality of what’s happening at home. They could feel guilty about being selfish and unworthy because they have not embraced the change that adjustment with something new. They can be withdrawn, downcast and some may even cry. This is a sure sign of post-partum depression.
PPD in women are largely as a result of hormones but this can happen in men too. A man’s testosterone level reduces after the partner’s delivery. He may also experience hormonal fluctuations and pregnancy symptoms especially weight gain and nausea. Too many times, PPD in men escalates towards the end of their partner’s maternity leave. This is because they suddenly realize that all the responsibilities of taking care of the newborn, shouldered by the woman while at home will not be adequately covered or may now be shared. Sometimes, it’s even the thought of getting more babysitting time that triggers depression in men.
The reason postpartum depression is not as apparent in men as it is in women is because men largely do not talk about it. In fact, most men are unwilling to talk about PPD because of the guilt, shame and confusion they have about feeling that way. Because they don’t understand it or are ashamed of it, they don’t reach out for help. They feel that they are alone in it and that it is odd for a man to feel that way.
But this doesn’t take away the fact that the sadness, moodiness and anxiety they feel aren’t trivial. It’s a valid health concern which can be treated once the symptoms are identified.
Here are major symptoms of postpartum depression in men:
Sudden weight loss or gain
Unnecessary or increased disposition to anger and conflicts
Obvious frustration or irritability
Agitation or violent behavior
Isolation from activities or places of interest, family and friends
Stress and tension
Impulsion and recklessness
Discouragement and helplessness
Being emotional or crying for no reason
Inability to concentrate or be motivated
Staying longer hours at work or getting trapped with work activities
Decline in productivity
Fatigue and stress
Heart palpitation and panic attacks
Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
Postpartum depression in men can cause very critical problems for their partner, their relationship and even the entire family. If the man who should provide some level of support to the woman who just put to bed is depressed, then it is going to be very difficult to manage the home front. Who knows, the woman may get depressed too and the consequences may be dire.
Postpartum depression can be more severe in men than in women and may have serious repercussions if not treated, especially for men with a family history of depression. In some men, the depression may become so severe that they not only distance themselves from the family, they may take to drugs, womanizing, gambling and other reckless behaviors. It’s a lot of responsibility for the woman who just had a baby but if your partner is already showing any of these symptoms, you may need to get professional help.
PPD is very treatable as exercise, good diet, professional/medical intervention as well as open communication can get him back on track.