Ever since Brooke Shields wrote her memoir Down Came the Rain about her experience with postpartum depression, it's been a subject that has gotten a lot of attention. There are online forums, support groups, and lots of resources for new moms who are struggling with this. Most people agree that it's good to ask for advice and to get help; it's not something that needs to be ignored or pushed away.
But it's not just moms who can get postpartum depression — dads can get it, too. Unfortunately, men going through postpartum depression don't have the same kind of support that most women do, but it happens. It's a real shame because there are a lot of men who are struggling with this who need the same support and resources as moms.
There are a lot of things to adjust to when parents have a newborn, from the lack of sleep to just generally figuring out this whole parenting thing, and it can be even harder when a parent has postpartum depression. So it's time to start talking about fathers who are dealing with this and to break the stigma. If there are any men who think they have postpartum depression, it's never too late to seek help.
20 It Affects A Lot Of Dads But Isn't Talked About
According to Time magazine, the fact that men also experience postpartum depression just isn't talked about as much. As the article says, "Although postpartum depression in men doesn’t make the news (or the reality TV circuit) as often as it does in women, the illness is common among new parents. In fact, according to a new Swedish study, it likely affects more new dads than previous studies have estimated. And because new dads aren’t screened for depression the way new moms are, the authors say, they may be at higher risk of their condition going untreated."
19 10% Of Dads Can Get Postpartum Depression
Dr. Christina Hibbert, who is a postpartum mental health expert, says that 10% of dads experience postpartum depression.
On her website, she writes, "According to research, Paternal Postnatal Depression (PPND) affects up to 10% of new dads throughout the world and as many as 14% of dads in the US . Some experts believe the numbers may be even higher, however, because men are less likely to report that they’re depressed in pregnancy and postpartum."
The last point is interesting and it makes sense that because this isn't a topic that is talked about a lot, men might not be aware that others are struggling with this, too, and might be less likely to mention it.
18 It Appears To Happen Within Their Child's First Month
How do we define postpartum depression in men? It seems like looking at how we define postpartum depression in women is the best way to do this.
According to Fatherly, "The most common diagnostic definition is cribbed from the definition used to identify postpartum depression in women. Maternal PPD is diagnosed as a major depressive episode with an onset in the first month after birth."
This article suggests this could be true for men, too, and that they could experience this struggle one month after their wife gives birth to their baby.
17 Not Having A Solid Relationship With Their Partner Could Affect This
One of the things that might lead to a new dad suffering from postpartum depression? If he and his partner don't have the greatest relationship, and they are going through some tough times, that might be a factor in him struggling with this. Having your partner be your confidant and ally in this new parenting journey is definitely important, and when you don't have that connection or are having some issues, it can make things a lot more darker than they were imagined.
16 Men Can Feel Really Alone
According to Good Therapy, men can feel really alone when they go through this.
This blog post says, "Often with dads who have PPND, there is a sense of isolation (perhaps his partner also has depression or is less available because of baby’s demands), overwhelmed with financial responsibility, feeling burdened, extreme sleep deprivation, and adjusting to role of fatherhood and the responsibilities associated with it."
This seems like something that both men and women who have postpartum depression deal with, since no matter who is experiencing this, they would absolutely feel alone. It's tough to struggle with something that is supposed to be such a happy time.
15 Men Have Hormone Changes, Too
We know that new moms go through a lot of hormone changes but did you know that men can go through some hormone changes, too, after they become fathers?
Dr. Christina Hibbert writes about this on her website and said that in terms of hormones in men, they are experiencing more estrogen and less testosterone: "Research has shown that it’s not just a mom’s hormones that shift after baby comes; dads hormones shift too."
We definitely don't often hear about men having a lot of estrogen after their wife has a baby, so this is really good information to keep note of.
14 It's Nothing To Be Ashamed Of
Dr. Christina Hibbert told Fit Pregnancy, "I think the big issue for men is to take the depression seriously and be able to recognize it's really happening. This isn't a weakness, you can't just will it away and try harder and it's going to be better. It's a major life change [you're experiencing]."
This is a big point when it comes to men who have postpartum depression: it's honestly nothing to be ashamed of. It seems like it can feel that way if you go through this, whether you're a mom or a dad, but it's a good idea to talk about and share your experience. Others do go through this and you're not the only one.
13 Men Might Start Working Differently
Thanks to Dr. Christina Hibbert, we know that if a man is experiencing postpartum depression, he might change the way that he works. He could work longer hours or less hours, depending on his mentality.
This is a small red flag that wouldn't seem to trigger many partners. Work and hours can change, plus excuses can always be made as to why there's a working shift. However, when these small movements are made, it's important to be aware and to ask questions. Get the help that you need.
12 There Are Also Physical Signs
There are physical signs of depression and the fact is that there are physical signs of postpartum depression as well.
Thanks to Fit Pregnancy, we know some of them: sleep issues, headaches, differences in weight (loss or gain), and stomach aches are just some of the signs.
It can be tough to say that your partner is depressed if they go through these signs because we all get sick sometimes or have trouble sleeping (and lack of sleep is for a sure a thing that new parents deal with). It's good to remember that if a new dad is experiencing a lot of these symptoms, and if there are differences in his mood, then it's possible that he is struggling.
11 Their Blues Can Affect Their Child
According to WebMd, we know that postpartum depression in dads can affect their kids. The publication interviewed a pediatrician and expert, James F. Paulson, who said, "Like maternal depression, paternal depression can have negative effects on the children. Some research shows that children have emotional and behavioral issues when their dads are depressed during the prenatal and postpartum periods."
He continued, “When fathers are depressed during infancy, their children have somewhat reduced vocabulary by age two." That being said, PPD can affect the whole family if not treated correctly.
10 Men Can Stop Hanging Out With Their Child Because Of It
Another fact from Fatherly.com about postpartum depression is that men might stop hanging out with their baby because they are going through this.
Walking in their shoes, this action seems logical since with depression, people often stop doing things that they enjoy and that bring them joy. They just don't feel a real interest in their hobbies or roles anymore.
It's really hard to hear about people going through this experience since having a baby is generally a joyous time full of new things and no one wants to think about their partner struggling like this.
9 Men Can Feel Negative About Things
Cynicism (skepticism, doubt...) is one sign of men with postpartum depression and while that seems logical, we might not always assume that someone being negative is a sign of depression.
Once realizing this, it seems like a clear sign, but we probably all know people who tend to be more negative than positive, at least about some things. But depression is very serious— especially postpartum—and it's good to know that if your husband and the father of your newborn baby is suddenly very negative about everything, it could be a sign that he's struggling.
8 They Might Feel Left Out
Another thing that might cause a new dad to experience postpartum depression? He might feel like his wife has a great, close bond with their baby, but he doesn't feel that same bond and connection. It's like his wife is having this whole other experience as a new parent and he just isn't included.
That's heartbreaking, right? Every new parent hopes and wants to feel that way about their baby, but of course postpartum is very complicated. If a dad doesn't feel like he's a part of his new family, he would be very affected by that, and it would be very difficult to experience.
7 Low Confidence Could Be A Factor
If a man has low confidence, he might have a chance of experiencing postpartum depression. It's always good to know the signs of something as serious as PPD, and it makes a lot of sense that if a new dad isn't secure with himself, he might start worrying about being a good dad. Those feelings would make him feel even worse and soon he could be feeling really low.
This might not be an obvious sign of postpartum, so it's good to know the different ways to tell if your partner is going through this.
6 There Are Complicated Feelings About 'Being A Man'
Another possible sign that a man has postpartum depression? As PostPatrum.org puts it, "Conflict between how you feel you should be as a man and how you are."
When a man becomes a father, it seems like he would definitely start thinking about his role in the family, and with all of the typical and traditional ways that a man can provide for his family (aka: by going to work and taking home a paycheck and maybe also doing things around the house or yard work), he could quickly become stressed out about the whole thing. It's a lot to take in.
5 A Man Can Get PPD If Their Partner Gets It
According to Fatherly, it's possible that some dads have postpartum depression because their partner has it, too.
Their website says, "One of the more troubling things about PPD is that the probability increases when a father’s partner is also experiencing postpartum depression. In one study, having a partner experiencing postpartum depression increased the likelihood of PPD in fathers by as much as 2.5 times. That makes it even more important to watch yourself for signs of PPD if your partner is also experiencing significant depression."
4 They Could Be Concerned About Money Issues
As this piece on Very Well Family says, some men who become new dads might be worried about money issues. They might not be sure if they really can bring in a lot of money for their family and now that they have a little one to think about, they can't stop worrying.
It's good to know that this can be a sign that a man is experiencing postpartum depression and it might not be something that is super obvious, but it does seem logical. This is for sure something that would come up after having a baby.
3 They Might Be Anxious About Being A Dad
Another reason that men can experience postpartum depression? If they feel anxious about being a dad.
This might be tough to see as a sign of depression because it seems like every new parent worries about how good of a parent they're going to be. They have so much to think about. Does anyone really think, "Yeah, I have this parenting thing down pat and there's nothing for me to be concerned about because I'm perfect"? The answer is no. It's smart to be aware of the signs and to know that if your partner seems extra worried about being a father, he might be going through this.
2 'Talk Therapy' Is A Good Way To Help
Therapy has gotten less of a stigma in recent years and it seems like a lot more people are sharing their stories — saying that they went to therapy in the past or go now. It's becoming more and more normal. It can be very helpful to talk to someone about what you're going through. It's good to know that you're not alone and to have a sounding board (and someone who isn't a friend or relative).
According to Fit Pregnancy, talk therapy is a really good way to start healing when going through this tough time. Of course, the first step would be for new dads to say that they are experiencing postpartum depression, and then they can find someone to talk to.
1 Explaining What's Going On To Your Partner Is Key
As Time magazine puts it, a good way for men to approach their postpartum depression experience is to talk to their wives. They should explain what they're going through.
This is great advice and maybe their partners were wondering if something was going on, but weren't sure how to broach the subject. So it's always best to be honest and discuss something that's bothering you. No matter what tough time you're going through, you always need to talk it out with someone and feel that you're loved and supported. Men with postpartum depression can benefit from that, too.