Is it possible for fathers to get postpartum depression or PPD? It is very common to hear mothers who had just given birth be at risk for PPD. This happens due to many reasons such as fluctuating hormones and recovering from bodily trauma which is giving birth.
That would have been either natural or through a C section as giving birth is traumatic to the body. Either way, the physical toll that giving birth takes is huge and it is not a surprise that any mom who had just given birth is prone to PPD.
Additionally, they don’t get the time they need to recover because they are always having to tend to the baby when they clearly need the rest themselves.
Are Fathers Prone To PPD?
However, it is not just moms who had just given birth that is prone to PPD. Fathers are as well, and this may seem strange to learn considering that they are the ones who did not go through hormonal fluctuations and go through the physical pain and trauma from giving birth.
The fact of the matter is that men can PPD too. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), four to 25 percent of dads of newborns develop PPD or paternal postpartum depression. And believe it or not, it is not only the new moms or the moms that had just given birth to the second, third, or whatever numbered baby going through the hormonal changes.
After men have their wives or girlfriends give birth to their babies, they go through hormonal changes as well for unknown reasons. However, they find that they have a rise of estrogen and a dip of testosterone which will cause them to change internally in many ways.
And, if these men are already dealing with anxiety or depression, then they will be more affected. That is right, even though these men did not physically go through the trauma of giving birth, they are still dealing with hormonal changes as well as having their lives turned upside down because of a new baby is in the picture.
This is even more common among first-time dads.
The signs to look for in fathers that might have paternal postpartum depression are:
- Dealing with unexplained anger – This is a sign that is a red flag that there is something dark going on, especially if the dad is not the type to become angry as it is. Anger is always a sign of depression and that is something to always keep an eye on.
- Insomnia – The baby is keeping the parents up, but at the same time, if dad is having a hard time sleeping even when the baby is sleeping, then that is a red flag as well.
- Sleeping too much – This is a sign that depression is an issue as well if anyone is getting more than nine hours of sleep a day. Even though the dad may be up to tend to the baby in the night, he may be sleeping throughout the rest of the day which is not a healthy sign.
- Feelings of hopelessness – This is the most common sign of depression in general. If you all of a sudden are feeling that there is no hope of anything then that is a red flag that cannot be ignored.
- Changes in weight and in appetite – Gaining or losing too much weight in a short period of time is a common sign of depression as well. If this is happening to the new dad then there is a good chance that he has PPD, especially if the other characteristics are present that have been noted so far.
- Thoughts of suicide and death – If the dad makes comments such as believing that everyone around him would be better off if he ‘disappeared’, then that is depression. Any type of suicidal thought needs attention right away because that is serious and if this thought escalates then the unthinkable has a high chance of happening.
If you find that any new dad is exhibiting these symptoms, then he needs to get help right away through a therapist as well as a psychiatrist who can prescribe him the medications need to help with the depression.
There is a lot of awareness about moms that just had given birth being prone to PPD, and there is not enough knowledge about PPD happening to new fathers or fathers of newborns as well.
Both parents can easily be affected, and just because the dad did not physically give birth, he will still be affected in other ways. The answer to the title of this article is: Yes, new fathers can get PPD and it needs to be taken seriously as well.