June is recognized as Men’s Health Awareness Month, so to close out the month we will shine a light on how Postpartum Depression (PPD) can impact fathers.
Yes, it’s real. Men can get PPD too.
About 25% of women suffer from postpartum depression, a percentage largely related, but not limited, to the change in hormone levels women experience after giving birth. So how are men getting PPD? What does PPD look like in men? And why do we need to talk about it?
Let’s Talk About PPD
In the United States, 8-10% of men experience postpartum depression. PPD is typically diagnosed in men in months 3-9. This statistic provides great evidence as well as support to other families that may be experiencing something similar.
Families can be informed and monitor any changes that they may be witnessing. The stigma of men needing to be “tough” is a contributing factor to why many men may go untreated or wait to seek treatment.
There are several theories as to what some of the causes are that lead to male PPD.
We know women experience a change in their hormones when giving birth. While men do not participate in physically delivering a baby, we do know they do experience a change in hormones as well. Men have an increase in estrogen pre-partum as well as postpartum. When men have an increase in estrogen, it helps with attachment.
A lot of young men are now also becoming part of a new generation of parenting. Many new fathers did not have the model father we see now, and many experienced hands-off fathering.
Part of this is due to the prevailing expectation to “be a man” all the time compounded with the stigma that fathering is only fit for tough and strong-willed men. This raises the question, if you are expected to be strong and have control of everything, does being vulnerable mean you are less of a man or a father?
Men are also more at risk for PPD if their partner has already been diagnosed with PPD. If this is the case for you, it’s highly recommended to really take your time, take plenty of moments to breathe, and assess where both you and your partner are on a day-by-day basis.
Realities of Parenthood
The reality is some of us have a romanticized version of parenthood. The expectations and limitations we put on ourselves add to the stress. Some reasons men may get postpartum depression are:
- Family history of depression
- Worries about being a parent
- Feeling overwhelmed with expectations in your role at work and your role as a father
- Financial problems
- Lack of social and/or emotional support
- Stress in relationship with family or spouse
- Missing attention and/or sex from your partner
- Stressful birthing experience
- Lack of sleep after the baby is born
- Feeling excluded from the bond between mom and baby
How Can it Affect Parenting?
Fathers that suffer from PPD tend to have minimal engagement with their children. They are more likely to get easily irritated, spank their children, and have less of an attachment.
Help & Support
It’s important to support your partner as you navigate through these new times and to make sure you both are feeling supported. Some ways to be supported are through parent groups, family support groups, group therapy, and individual therapy if needed.
Since PPD is understudied, treatments are still new and evolving. PPD is treated similarly to depressive disorders. SSRIs and psychotherapy help in the treatment of PPD.
If you feel that you or your partner might be experiencing postpartum depression, please reach out for help and support. Clarity Clinic has therapists and providers that specialize in postpartum depression you can schedule by clicking the link below.
Remember, you don’t have to prove that you “are a man” or “tough” at all times to be a good dad. While taking care of a new baby is in itself a full-time commitment, it’s important to take time to take care of your own health. Every parent deserves the security and confidence they need to raise a life with love and affection. Because, as you watch that child bloom, you will continue to grow right alongside them.
Written by Samantha Espinosa, MA
At Clarity Clinic, we have highly trained staff who specialize in therapy and psychiatry services. To learn more about how we can support your mental health, call Clarity Clinic at (312) 815-9660 or schedule an appointment today.