Men’s Health Week | Fathers & Postpartum Depression
New fathers can experience a form of postpartum depression, which can hurt the father’s mental health as well as the rest of the family. Severe postpartum depression can be managed with a mental health treatment program.
Men’s Health Week 2023 can help reduce the stigma of mental health problems that affect boys, young men, and adult men. By improving awareness and access to mental health resources, men can receive the help and support they need for stronger mental health.
Postpartum depression is widely recognized and assessed in women. Although research shows that 1 in 10 new fathers can also develop postpartum depression, men may not have sufficient mental health resources and treatment concerning paternal postpartum depression, or PPD.
Treating PPD can promote healthy family relationships and give men the mental health treatment they need. If you or someone you know are new to fatherhood and are struggling with symptoms of depression, help is available.
Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Paternal postpartum depression is not well-defined due to the lack of clinical studies and research on the topic. However, common symptoms have been observed in fathers suffering from PPD, including:
- lack of sleep
- low involvement with family members
- physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, or upset stomach
- worsening mental health
- mood swings
- unnatural or high-risk behavior, such as violence or substance abuse
Symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as trouble concentrating on daily tasks or excessive worrying, may also occur in PPD victims.
When Does PPD Occur?
PPD can be prevalent in new fathers during the first trimester of pregnancy (the antenatal period). After the child is born (the postnatal period), PPD may be more likely to occur during the first year of the child’s life, especially during the first 3 to 6 months.
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How Paternal Postpartum Depression Affects The Family
Children with depressed fathers may not have access to the support and care they need during the crucial development stage. The lack of support can lead to mental health and behavioral problems in children.
Child health problems linked to paternal postpartum depression may include poor family relationships, an increased risk of mental health conditions, and behavioral problems in school.
PPD can also strain the relationship between new fathers and new mothers. Mothers may be frustrated at the lack of involvement and destructive tendencies, while fathers may not have a proper outlet for their mental health problems. These issues can hurt the family as a whole.
Causes Of Postpartum Depression In New Fathers
Some research suggests that changes in sleep patterns and hormone levels may cause PPD in fathers.
The hormones cortisol, testosterone, and estrogen may all fluctuate in men during and after a pregnancy. These hormones are linked to changes in mood, mental function, and stress levels.
New fathers may struggle to sleep properly before and after their child is born. Poor sleeping habits can change your circadian rhythm, a known risk factor for depression.
More research is likely needed to establish how health problems related to child-rearing can lead to depression in men.
Risk Factors For Postpartum Depression In New Dads
Your risk of depression after fathering a child may increase if you have:
- a family history of depression
- a partner experiencing maternal postpartum depression after giving birth
- hormonal changes during your partner’s pregnancy, especially changes in testosterone levels
- constant sleep deprivation
- other stressors, such as worrying about childcare or lacking a work-life balance
Mental Health Treatment For New Parents In Ohio
If you are a first-time father or have recently had a new child, your Ohio healthcare provider may screen you for signs of depression. If you have severe symptoms of depression or anxiety, you may be referred to mental health treatment programs.
Accepting mental health treatment can reduce stigma on men’s mental health and get you the care you may need. Mental health treatment for symptoms of depression can include joining support groups, taking medication, and attending behavioral therapy sessions.
If you are a new father and you feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of a new baby, help is out there. Contact Ohio Recovery Center for evidence-based mental illness treatment options that work for you, your children, and your loved ones.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics — Identifying Maternal and Paternal Postpartum Depression in the Primary Care Setting with Appropriate Intervention and Follow-Up https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/147/3_MeetingAbstract/48/4904/Identifying-Maternal-and-Paternal-Postpartum
- Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience — Postpartum Depression in Men https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6659987/
- Journal of Affective Disorders — A prospective study of postnatal depressive symptoms and associated risk factors in first-time fathers. https://europepmc.org/article/MED/30818245