The awareness surrounding Postpartum Depression and Anxiety in new moms is increasing. However, we’re still a bit behind when it comes to Postpartum Depression in men.
When a woman becomes pregnant she will quite often have discussions about Postpartum Depression before the baby is even born so that she knows the signs and symptoms to look out for. There are loads of free resources in every community throughout North America and there seems to be an increasing general duty felt by friends and family of women who have just had a baby to make sure that their mental health isn’t struggling.
The American Psychological Association estimates that 1 in 7 women develop Postpartum Depression. At numbers this high it’s important that light is being brought to how to identify and treat Postpartum Depression, however, the statistics for Postpartum Depression in men aren’t that much lower and yet we don’t tend to talk about it.
What is Postpartum Depression in men?
Postpartum Depression in men is like Postpartum Depression in women. The Journal of the American Medical Association released a study in 2010 that indicated that around 10% of men experienced Postpartum Depression.
Postpartum Depression in men can occur anytime from after his child is born to up to 2 years after.
There is no known cause of Postpartum Depression, however it is most likely caused by a number of factors that vary from person to person. They can include (but are not limited to):
-Severe sleep loss
-Changes in life roles
-Predisposition to depression (genetically)
-Lack of support
-Being present for a traumatic birth
-Feeling excluded in bonding between Mom and baby
A major role is hormones. While a woman experiences hormonal shifts in Prolactin, Cortisol, HGG, Progesterone, Estrogen, etc. men will often experience a shift in their Testosterone. This shift is explained in this fascinating article and can contribute to the onset or increase of symptoms of Postpartum Depression in men.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Postpartum Depression in men are similar in some ways but also very different in others:
-Increase in anger and confrontational behavior
-Increased use of alcohol or drugs
-Frustration and irritability
-Crying or feelings of sadness for no reason
-Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
-Involving self in reckless behavior
-Fatigue, headaches, pain
-Significant weight loss or weight gain
-Lack of concentration or focus
-Loss of interest in hobbies
-Becoming cynical of self
These are symptoms that Dad might see in himself, or it may be Mom, friends, or family who sees the changes in behavior.
Taking the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale will give some insight into the symptoms.
What do you do about Postpartum Depression in men?
Unfortunately, there’s an expectation amongst men to be “manly and macho” which often deters them from seeking the help that they need to help overcome their challenges.
The first step is finding someone to talk to who’s trusted. This could be a partner, a friend, a parent, a sibling- it just needs to be someone who Dad can express his feelings and concerns to.
It can also be difficult for some men to take the time to take care of themselves when a new baby is welcomed to the home. A woman is dealing with physically healing from the birth of the child and Dad often feels compelled to take on a lot more. While it’s important that Mom rests her body after childbirth it’s also important that Dad take care of himself, too. Exercise, eating well, drinking water, getting out and chatting with a friend can all help Dad reduce the stress and pressure of being a new Dad.
It can be hard to ask for help, but it can be even harder to take the help that’s offered. When help in any form is offered from a support system, take it! Seriously. TAKE IT!
If the symptoms of Postpartum Depression are persisting it’s advised to go see a doctor. They can offer resources and discuss if treatment in the form of medication or counselling might be an option.
Are there resources available?
Talking to your healthcare provider is a great way to get access to local organizations and resources that will be able to offer support for Postpartum Depression in men.
This support can often be offered on the phone through a society such as Pacific Postpartum, through support groups in the community (which are often held at the local hospital or public health unit), support communities online, or individual counselling.
The route that is taken is dependent on the individual’s comfort level and what they feel would be most beneficial to them.
It’s important to develop an awareness and understanding of Postpartum Depression in men. We’re making great progress when it comes to promoting information regarding mental health issues, especially amongst women in the postpartum period, however, it’s crucial that we draw attention to the men who are experiencing struggles with their mental health in the postpartum period, as well.