New dads have been depressed for years. But not until last year did fathers and post-partum depression get any attention. A meta-analysis of studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that one in 10 dads experienced some sadness after the birth of their child.
A look at 28,000 fathers found that around 14 percent of new fathers in the U.S. experienced some form of depression right after birth. That number jumps to 25 percent with the kid reached 3 to 6 months old.
As with Postpartum Depression in women, Paternal Postnatal Depression isn’t a matter of bucking up and embracing life. It can have serious consequences on the man, his family and especially, his child.
A recent study from the University of Michigan found that 40 percent of fathers who experienced some kind of depression after the birth of a child had actually spanked that child in the first year of life. They also found depressed fathers read to their kids less.
So how do you know if a new dad is depressed? Doctors are increasingly trying to screen for depression at well-baby visits, but the number of dads who go to those leaves many to fall through the cracks. Men also have, on the whole, smaller social circles than their female partners and may not have an outlet for their sadness and frustration (which isn’t to say women always do either).
A Men’s Health article on PPND lists some of the symptoms of male baby blues. These include:
- Sleep deprivation
- Irritability and anger
- Working constantly
- Drinking and gambling
- Extramarital affairs
Men may also experience mood swings, thanks to hormonal shifts that they, too, experience. They produce less testosterone, more estrogen and also pro-lactin — the breastfeeding hormone.
Some remedies for depression, according to the article, include:
- Getting professional help
- Talking about it with a counselor, support group or trusted friend
- Pre-birth prevention — know that it’s a possibility and work on marital issues, fatherhood fears, etc., before the baby gets here (and the sleep goes away).
Did you or your partner suffer from PPND? What did you do about it? How did it affect your new-dad life?
Photo: surekat via flickr