Dads Suffer Too: Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPND) is a Significant Problem

Dads Suffer Too: Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPND) is a Significant ProblemThere is avid research, awareness and support for maternal postpartum depression, but what about when dads get the baby blues?

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 United States.

Postpartum Depression Affects Dads Too

Studies exploring the prevalence and implications of maternal postpartum depression and the effects of postpartum depression in fathers, reveal that postpartum depression is a significant problem in both mothers and fathers in the United States. A study published in Pediatrics revealed that maternal and paternal postpartum depression had both individual and combined effects on parenting behavior, including undesirable parent health behavior and fewer positive parent-infant interactions.

A recent integrative literature review published by the Journal of Advanced Nursing, examined the relationship between maternal postpartum depression and paternal postpartum depression. The findings illustrated that maternal depression was the strongest predictor of paternal depression during the postpartum period during the first postpartum year: bringing more awareness to the fact that both postpartum depression in women and postnatal depression in men are significant problems that need to be addressed for family health and well being.

What to look for:

According to the Journal of Parent & Family Mental Health, postpartum depression includes depressive episodes that last for longer than two-weeks during the postpartum period.

Symptoms of both maternal and paternal postpartum depression include:

  • Loss of interest and activities
  • Significant loss or gain
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Insomnia or hypersomnie
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Severe anxiety
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Some symptoms of postpartum depression unique to men include:

  • Irritability
  • Indecision
  • Impulsivity
  • Violent behavior
  • Avoidance behavior
  • Substance abuse

What can you do?

It is recommended that if you experience any symptoms of postpartum baby blues or postpartum/postnatal depression, to seek medical care and treatment.

Dr. Will Courtenay, founder of acknowledges that men often hide their pain, but “hiding depression only makes it worse and can lead to other serious problems.” On his website he states:

PPND is a very serious condition. But it’s also a very treatable condition. Left untreated, however, PPND can result in damaging, long-term consequences for you, your kids, your marriage, your career, and your finances. If you’re reluctant to get help for yourself, consider doing it for the well-being of your child and family. Not only can PPND hurt your relationship with your partner, we know that it undermines your child’s development. Research shows that a father’s PPND has a negative impact on the emotional and behavioral development of his child years later. So, the best thing you can do to provide for your child’s future is to get help for yourself today.

In the article, Is Mom and Dad’s Depression Making the Kids Wild?, Kate Fogarty, an associate professor of youth development at University of Florida in Gainesville recommends:

For those in the midst of a severe depressive episode, family and mental health experts say having another adult temporarily help with parenting duties, if possible, can bridge the disruption for kids. “One parent, or even grandparent, can help offset those effects,” 

Resources and Links to Learn More:

Dad’s with postpartum depression – Mothering Forums

PPD for Father’s – Mothering Forums

Postpartum Men is a place for men with concerns about depression, anxiety or other problems with mood after the birth of a child. It promotes self-help, provides important information for fathers – including a self-assessment for postpartum depression – hosts an online forum for dads to talk to each other, offers resources, gathers new information about men’s experiences postpartum, and – most importantly – helps fathers to beat the baby blues.

PostpartumDads is a volunteer based outreach project affiliated with Postpartum Support International. This website is intended to help dads and families by providing firsthand information and guidance through the experience of PPD.

Postpartum Support International The purpose of Postpartum Support International is to increase awareness among public and professional communities about the emotional changes that women experience during pregnancy and postpartum. It also provides important information and resources for women with postpartum depression.

If you find yourself in a crisis situation call 911 or go to the nearest hospital or emergency room.

Additional crisis resources:

• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

image credit: Frugan

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