We talk about postpartum depression in women but it is not just mothers who are affected. Studies conducted over the years have shown that men can suffer from postpartum depression too. While postpartum emotional disorders —postpartum blues to depression — is commonly seen in women, a 2010 article by James F Paulson in the Psychiatric Times estimated the incidence of significant depression in new fathers between 1-26 per cent. Many parents, however, are not very aware about this health issue.
What causes postpartum depression in men?
“Parenting is a very big responsibility and men are not always ready for the challenge. Most families have a nuclear setup today and the lack of other adults in the house to help the new parents further adds to their stress,” Dr Ritambhara Bhalla, senior consultant-gynaecologist and obstetrician, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, told Express Parenting.
One should also check for any family history of depression. “Postpartum depression in men is more common now. The chances of postpartum depression are more if you have a family history of depression. Other factors include work pressure or inability to maintain work-life balance,” explained the doctor.
Symptoms of postpartum depression in men
Due to lack of awareness, men do not always know when they are experiencing postpartum blues. Most men are not vocal about the issue while trying to remain strong. Others express it in the form of anger, frustration and irritability which impact inter-personal relations, cause loss of interest in work, sleeplessness and loss of libido, mentioned Dr Bhalla. These are all part of paternal blues following postpartum.
And does it have anything to do with the mother suffering from postpartum emotional disorders? “Normally, we don’t see postpartum depression in both parents simultaneously. It is usually more prevalent in one of the partners,” the gynaecologist expressed.
How to treat postpartum depression in men
Since postpartum blues in men often stem from their inability to cope with parenting stress, the ideal way to treat it is through counselling. And family members should encourage it and give the father enough support. In fact, counselling should begin prenatally to sensitise them about newborn care and parenting. “Counselling gives them more confidence. Very few of the patients require medication,” Dr Bhalla commented.
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