Paternal Postpartum Depression—Yes, It’s Real

Paternal Postpartum Depression—Yes, It’s Real

Thanks to increased awareness, we’ve all become more familiar with the postpartum depression an estimated 14% of women experience. But did you know that dads can suffer from it too?

According to research in JAMA, 10% of new dads show signs of paternal postpartum depression (PPD). And that number jumps to 26% during the first three to six months of baby’s arrival. So much for that “bundle of joy.”

What Causes Paternal Postpartum Depression?

In women, the causes of postpartum depression are believed to be hormonal. In men, however, the mechanism behind symptoms of depression is less clear. Men do experience some hormonal changes during his significant other’s pregnancy, but they are not as pronounced as those in women. But when you add lifestyle disruption—such as lack of sleep, financial or relationship stress, and new caregiving responsibilities—it can add up to depression.

Symptoms of PPD

New fathers may display a variety of symptoms associated with paternal postpartum depression (PPD), including:

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Panic attacks
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Loss of interest in activities he used to enjoy
  • Suddenly engaging in risky behaviors
  • Suddenly spending more time at work

For some men, these symptoms may resolve when they finally get a good night’s sleep or when they get more comfortable with their new routine. But when these feelings and behaviors don’t improve, it’s a sign of depression.

Depression that goes undiagnosed, untreated, or mistreated can affect a dad’s relationship with his spouse or significant other and cause marital conflict. In fact, when both new parents are experiencing postpartum depression, it leads to a significant worsening of the mom’s depressive symptoms over the first six months after birth. In addition, it can also interfere with his relationship with his new child as depressed dads tend to be less involved with their kids.

Seeking Help for PPD

Unfortunately, most new fathers who are depressed don’t talk about their feelings. The stigma attached to mental health issues plays a role in men staying silent when they are hurting.

Brain imaging studies can help break that stigma. They help men realize that depression isn’t a sign of personal weakness; it’s a brain health issue. Brain scans also show that there are 7 types of depression, and knowing your type is critical to getting the personalized treatment you need so you can be the best dad possible.

At Amen Clinics, we have helped thousands of men (and women) discover their depression type using brain imaging technology called SPECT. When used as part of a comprehensive assessment that also looks at the biological (like a lack of sleep), psychological (like the financial stresses that come with a new child), social (like having a new baby that completely disrupts your daily routines), and spiritual factors that can contribute to postpartum depression.

If you’re struggling with symptoms of depression, whether or not you’re a new dad, we’re here to help. Call 888-288-9834 today to speak with a specialist or schedule a visit online.


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