You’ve been preparing for the birth of your baby for 9 months. You’ve read all the books, designed the nursery, picked out the name, and bought the cutest clothes imaginable. You may even be somewhat prepared for postpartum depression, but are you prepared for paternal postpartum depression?
What is Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPD)?
Paternal postpartum depression is no different than postpartum depression in women and occurs in men after the baby has arrived. Depression among new fathers increases by 68% and it’s not uncommon. In fact, one in four dads experiences PPD, which amounts to 3,000 men per day.
What Causes PPD?
Hormones. While you’ve experience a roller coaster of hormone changes during your pregnancy, your partner has experienced his own as well. During and after pregnancy, men’s testosterone levels decrease and estrogen levels increase.
Stress, lack of sleep, added responsibilities, and a sick or premature baby also play a role in PPD. New dads are worried about finances and worry about how good of a day they’re going to be.
Just like postpartum depression and the baby blues in women, PPD and the daddy blues in men are different. The daddy blues are cured with some extra sleep or an afternoon with a friend. But, if Dad is still depressed after this, it might be PPD.
If Dad still feels depressed after two to three weeks, it’s probably PPD. It’s time to seek treatment by a professional who specializes in working with men. It’s important to pay attention to things that seem out of character, such as constant headaches or stomachaches, increased anger, or alcohol or substance abuse.
Men tend to internalize feelings of depression and to self medicate instead of talking about their feelings or seeking help. If you see these changes in Dad, encourage him to seek treatment.
Pregnancy is one of life’s most miraculous moments and it comes with a million different emotions – for mom and dad. It’s important to recognize these symptoms and seek treatment. Remember, you’re not alone!
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff
My name is Amanda Itzkoff, MD. I am a New York City based Psychiatrist and Assistant Professor at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
For additional information, please feel free to email our office at Amanda.Itzkoff@gmail.com.
To schedule an appointment, call our offices at 917-609-4990.