Postpartum depression, contrary to appearances, does not only affect women. Fathers suffer from this too, but the problem is often overlooked and downplayed – both by them and by those around them.
The birth of a child is considered one of the happiest moments in the life of both women and men. It comes with months of preparation, planning, waiting for the baby to arrive, and wondering how we will perform as parents. However, the situation after the birth of a child is often much more complicated. It also happens that instead of happiness, very difficult emotions appear.
Does postpartum depression also occur in men?
Postpartum depression is a disease that is often underestimated among women. However, in the case of men this is even more noticeable. Mood disorders after the birth of a child affect fathers more often than you might think. However, it is still somewhat of a taboo topic.
An estimated one in ten fathers suffer from perinatal depression – they meet the criteria for depressive episodes of varying severity. These data cover the period from the first trimester of a partner’s pregnancy to one year after the birth of the child. The analyzes also showed that postpartum depression was most common in men when the baby was between 3 and 6 months old. By comparison, the rate of postpartum depression among women over the same period is 24 percent, and symptoms usually begin within the first three months of a baby’s life.
Depression after childbirth in men – who is at risk?
Becoming a parent can be a challenging task – for both women and men. Many factors can play a role in the development of depression in a man after the birth of a child. One of them is postpartum partner depression. A feeling of “distance” from the baby and its mother can also contribute to this condition – fathers want to be part of the birth experience, but can often feel rejected (women don’t always even realize that they are excluding the father from caring for the baby).
A personal or family history of depression is also important. If a man has suffered from depression or another mental illness, the risk of perinatal depression increases. Sleep also plays an important role in all of this—lack of sleep can increase symptoms of anxiety and depression. In addition, if the child’s mother suffers from severe depression, the incidence of this disease increases significantly in the father. The risk of perinatal depression in men is also associated with:
complex economic factors,
the sleep-wake rhythm is disrupted.
How does postpartum depression manifest in men?
Experts note that research and medical care are focused mainly on women experiencing postpartum depression. Although postpartum depression is no different from other types of depression, it can present slightly differently in men than in women. Among men, increased irritability, greater impulsiveness and a tendency to engage in risky behavior are more typical. There is also an increased tendency to abuse harmful substances, social isolation, and decreased resistance to stress. Common symptoms of perinatal depression in fathers include low motivation, withdrawal from relationships, changes in occupational intensity, and difficulty concentrating.
Often, a factor that makes diagnosis difficult is a man’s underestimation of his condition. In turn, the environment may incorrectly perceive this as a change associated with a new stage of life and its differences – a change in marital status, economic status and social perception. This disorder can be treated effectively, but it is very important to detect the problem early. Each type of depression requires specialist help and often also therapy and pharmacological treatment. Currently, depression in fathers after the birth of a child is a little-studied problem that requires further clinical observations.
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