Sponsored Content: Postpartum Depression — Fathers Get It, Too
Many new dads also show symptoms after a child's birth
Photo courtesy of Halfpoint/Shutterstock.com
In the life-changing weeks and months after the birth of a baby, feelings of sadness and frustration can accompany — and even supersede — the joy that many new parents anticipate. Parents of young babies lack sleep and are often isolated. Many must develop completely new skills sets and ways of managing their lives. For some parents, the stress inherent in the transition into parenthood can lead to postpartum depression. We’ve learned as a culture to look for depression in new mothers as they adjust to being parents because we know that giving birth can trigger depression in some women. Research suggests, however, that we vastly underrate the role that stress and lifestyle changes play in triggering postpartum depression — and that many new fathers, as well as adoptive parents, can experience postpartum depression.
Recently, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study using data from almost 10,000 clinic visits by parents with babies. Of the population being studied, almost as many fathers as mothers (4.4 percent of fathers; 5 percent of mothers) screened positive for postpartum depression. This research supports similar conclusions drawn from many other studies that many men experience postpartum depression — though they aren’t always treated for it.
Men tend to experience postpartum depression differently than women do. Women often report crying, feeling sad and feeling overwhelmed. Men with depression, however, are more likely to become angry, frustrated, detached from other people and prone to overuse substances. Since our culture doesn’t often look for postpartum depression in men, and since the symptoms in men look different from what we’ve learned to look for in women, male postpartum depression often goes untreated. When untreated, fathers’ struggles with depression can cause them lasting pain and their families lasting trouble, as fathers play an invaluable role in raising their children. Fathers with depression can be distracted, socially isolated and sullen, and they may find healthy communication difficult.
So how can families recognize the difference between a man who is overtired and stressed with caring for a newborn, and man who is experiencing postpartum depression? Look for behavior changes that might indicate depression: self-isolation, frequent expressions of frustration, significant changes in eating habits, feeling overworked, substance overuse and other significant personality changes. If you suspect that someone you know might have postpartum depression, it is important to have that person evaluated by a qualified mental health professional in order to begin treatment.
In the Triangle, Dr. Sara Rosenquist offers unique help for families struggling with postpartum depression. Dr. Rosenquist works with all kinds of parents — fathers and mothers; biological and adoptive parents; LGBT+ and straight parents. She emphasizes a nonpharmacological approach to dealing with postpartum depression, focusing on coping skills, stress management and loving connections for families with babies. She recently participated in a panel discussion at the American Psychological Association annual convention on paternal postpartum depression. She has also published a book on this condition: After the Stork: A Couple’s Guide to Preventing and Overcoming Postpartum Depression. If you wish to learn more about Dr. Rosenquist and her practice, check out her website or call her office at 866-337-4911.