What You Should Know About Postpartum Depression In New Fathers – Paternal Postpartum Depression

What You Should Know About Postpartum Depression In New Fathers – Paternal Postpartum Depression

As surprising as it may sound, yes, men can develop postpartum depression or Paternal Postpartum depression as it is called.

Studies have shown that 10% of fathers suffer from it before or after their baby is born.

Postpartum depression is a more severe form of "baby blues". 

Baby blues is a period when new mothers experience mood swings, crying, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. 

Baby blues usually begin between the first two or three days after delivery; they can sometimes last for two weeks.

Postpartum depression is a major form of depression that encompasses a complex combination of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that usually happen within four weeks after birth.

Signs Of Postpartum Depression

This type of depression isn't always easy to spot as its symptoms/signs are similar to baby blues. 

However, PPD is more intense, so early detection is key to ensuring better and more effective treatment. 

  • Extreme crying
  • Inability to facilitate the mother-baby bond
  • Self-doubt (doubting if you are a good mother)
  • Thoughts of self-harm
  • Thoughts of harming the baby
  • Severe anxiety or panic attacks
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Excess fatigue or loss of strength
  • Feeling jittery or restless
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Difficulty thinking clearly, focusing, or making decisions. 


Postpartum depression in new fathers or Paternal Postpartum depression has the same signs as PPD in mothers.

  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and restlessness
  • Anger
  • Feeling irritable
  • Distancing and withdrawing from a spouse, the baby, and the rest of the family.
  • Feelings of frustration and discouragement
  • Loss of strength
  • Tiredness
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Serious nightmares
  • Panic attacks
  • Been hostile to your spouse and baby
  • Having headaches or Stomach aches

Why You Might Develop Paternal Postpartum Depression

As a new father, you are at the risk of postpartum depression if;

  • You have suffered from depression previously
  • Currently have bipolar disorder or a mood disorder
  • Family members suffer from depression or mood disorders
  • If your baby has special needs or health issues
  • Have no support or a weak support system
  • Have problems in your relationships (with a spouse, guardians, or family members)
  • If you have financial problems
  • Suffered trauma as a kid
  • It is an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy

Paternal postpartum depression is nothing to be ashamed about. 

Suffering from this disorder is not your fault, and know you can pull through with the proper diagnosis and treatment.

When Should You See A Doctor

You must bear in mind that as a new father, you can also suffer from "baby blues". Baby blues usually disappear after a couple of days or two weeks at most. However, the moment you notice either signs of baby blues or paternal postpartum depression – see your doctor.

It would be unwise to wait for your symptoms to get to the point where:

  • They are aggravated quickly
  • Preventing you from taking care of your baby
  • Interrupting your daily life
  • You have thoughts of hurting yourself and your baby
  • If you do get to this point, it doesn't mean it's too late. You can still get the help you need; this should only cause you to hasten up with taking the right action– which is seeing a doctor.

Causes Of Paternal Postpartum Depression

Lack Of Attention

Before or after the birth of a newborn, the mother's focus shifts from the father to the baby. 

This lack of attention can negatively affect the father, as he is now starved of affection and sometimes love. 

The mother typically establishes a bond with the baby quickly, but in the dad's case, it might take a while. 

During this period, he might begin to feel the third wheel. 

Pressure

With a new baby comes new responsibilities, which means more money is needed. As a father, this can put some pressure to provide adequately for the latest addition to the family. 

This can lead to a new level of stress as you begin to worry about finances and bills.

Hormones

Research showed that low levels of paternal testosterone could result in paternal postpartum depression.

Hormonal changes occur in the father, leading to a drop in estrogen, cortisol, and vasopressin levels.

There can also be an increase in prolactin levels. 

These changes can cause mood disorders, leading to paternal postpartum depression.

Lack Of Rest Or Sex

The birth of a new baby can put a strain on the relationship between couples. 

There would be less time for activities like sleep and sex. lack of these essential activities in a new dad's life can be innerving most times.

Treatment For Paternal Postpartum Depression

To effectively treat paternal postpartum depression, medical practitioners can recommend the following;

Medication

A doctor will prescribe drugs based on the sufferer's symptoms. The doctor can recommend antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety medications, and antidepressants for the sufferer. 

Examples of antidepressants are:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs)
  • Atypical antidepressants
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) 

Special Procedures

Doctors can recommend that the sufferer be treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). 

Hospitalization

In extremely severe cases of paternal postpartum depression, where the sufferer is a threat to the health and wellbeing of their child, themselves, or spouse, they are hospitalized.

Psychotherapy or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Talk therapy is also highly recommended in treating this depression. 

The sufferer can make it personal, or he can bring along his spouse.

Prevention Of Paternal Postpartum Depression

 Although, there isn't any primary method for preventing paternal postpartum, there are little things one can do.

  • Eat healthy food.
  • Rest (This will be difficult to do, but do not miss the chance to sleep if it presents itself?
  • Avoid drinking, gambling, and other reckless behaviors.
  • Exercise work out
  • Talk about your feelings — whether it's with your partner, parent, sibling, or friend (or anyone who will listen without judgment).

Conclusion

Fatherhood is no joke, and neither is paternal postpartum depression

This issue is not to be taken lightly or overlooked. 

Remember that this disorder is not embarrassing; instead, it's normal, and with the proper treatment, you will recover.

Resources 


https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28757312/

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/yes-postpartum-depression-in-men-is-very-real/amp/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617
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July 24th, 2024

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