Even Dads Can Get Postpartum Depression

Father holding newbornYes, it’s true. One in four new dads have postpartum depression (clinical term is Paternal Postnatal Depression or PPND) after the birth of a baby. What this means in simple terms is dealing feelings of being down, depressed and anxious after the birth of a baby. The good news is that, fortunately, more and more information is being shared with the public about how common and how treatable postpartum depression is in women. And, the reality is that it’s just as treatable in men as well! We can’t forget those daddies!

Clearly, parents need and deserve support after the birth of a baby, and most especially if they are exhibiting any signs of postpartum challenge (including severe insomnia, appetite changes, feeling low down, excessively worried, overwhelmed, intrusive thoughts of harm befalling baby or loved one, etc). These concerns can manifest any time during the first year after the baby’s birth. It’s important to get help if you are experiencing such feelings.

Some wonderful resources are:

  • www.postpartumdads.org (affiliated with Postpartum Support International at www.postpartum.net)
  • www.postpartummen.com
  • www.bcnd.org (boot camp for dads)

Often with dads who have PPND, there is a sense of isolation (perhaps his partner also has depression or is less available because of baby’s demands), overwhelmed with financial responsibility, feeling burdened, extreme sleep deprivation, and adjusting to role of fatherhood and the responsibilities associated with it. Although dads do not have the hormonal influence that moms experience as a contributing factor to postpartum challenges, dads do experience sleep deprivation and the challenge of becoming a new father for the first time (or a father to more than one child).

Dads can receive support from psychotherapists who specialize in helping families transition into parenthood and family life. The above websites have either volunteers or therapists who can direct you to therapists in your area. It is important to get help immediately and also if your partner is struggling with depression as well. The family unit thrives when both parents (in a two parent household) are receiving the support and guidance they need to parent well and feel well as individuals/couples.

Left untreated, postpartum depression in either mom or dad can have really deleterious affects on the entire family. Therefore, support and resources are vital to encompass the entire family. Many are afraid to reach out and get support due to stigma associated with mental health challenges. However, more and more people are assisting with destigmatizing postpartum issues because of the number of people affected by such challenges. Clearly, brain health is essential. With help, all members of the family function optimally.

© Copyright 2011 by Andrea Schneider, LCSW. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • DonaldP

    June 14th, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    Yes we get post partum depression too but no body pays attention to that. It is all about the mom and the baby. What happens to us? We feel so left out and abandoned. I know that for many of you this sounds like being a whiner but it is very true. Those of us who are dads can feel pretty left out of the whole process and it can bring you down.

  • Eric Chappell

    June 14th, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    You bet!What with all the new responsibility and all the changes in everyday life it is bound to have effects.I went through a tough time after the birth of my first child.

    But the thing is that not a lot of people know about this even.So there is less diagnosis and even less of treatment for this in general.Awareness is low, that’s the main problem.

  • Jenni Phelps

    June 15th, 2011 at 1:32 AM

    I didn’t know there was a name for this but the description fits my brother-in-law to a T! Both times my sister had their children he became very overwhelmed and anxious about the family. After about six months after they were born he settled back down again. We thought he’d be okay the second time around and he was just as bad as the first. I’m sending my sister this!

  • Tracy Kel

    June 15th, 2011 at 4:24 AM

    Sorry men but this is ridiculous.
    You don’t have the hormone changes like we do.
    You may get a little less sleep than you once did, but that’s it. Don’t complain about something that is not real and is clearly just a hook to try to get more attention out of the situation. Having birthed five kids with little support from my husband, I pretty much do everything, I am more than just a little unsympathetic to your cause.

  • ruth R

    June 15th, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    Although this sounds like a genuine thing much depends on the father-to-be’s personality and anxiety levels and also on various other factors like family structure,support systems,financial condiion and a lot more.

  • Amfortas

    June 15th, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Sexism has a name, and it’s Tracy Kel.

    Seriously, stop pretending that only women have hard lives. It’s sexist, arrogant, selfish, and condescending. Walk a mile in men’s shoes for once.

  • Nick

    June 15th, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    So are men gonna have paternity leave soon? Haha..
    While this may not really happen I do think the stress and depression are real things because I have seen this same thing happen to a friend when he had his first child.

  • cecelia

    June 16th, 2011 at 4:39 AM

    Postpartum? men? Please! What a cop out. I know that having a baby can be a big change in a life, but depression in men after this event I suppose could be characterized as regular depression but not post partum. This kind of belittles the events that the women involved have to endure.

  • Sandy C.

    June 17th, 2011 at 11:23 PM

    I’m sorry, but I really don’t understand how this occurs. You knew the baby was coming for several months, you’ve obviously been having regular sex with a woman that you’re likely married to, and you have had plenty of time to prepare yourself.

    Why would you suddenly be diagnosed with depression? It doesn’t make any sense.

  • Shaun Carroll

    June 18th, 2011 at 3:56 AM

    @Tracy You can’t apply a standard to all men simply because of your husband’s behavior wasn’t aligned with this. This does exist. Science has proven that it exists, and to ignore it displays a distinct lack of compassion for the men who genuinely suffer from postpartum depression.

    Hormones are nothing to do with it, not in men anyway. It’s a psychological disorder that comes from stress and worry. If you feel unsupported by your husband and can’t communicate that to him, consider getting some help with that and go for counseling.

  • Caroline Taylor

    June 18th, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    Postpartum depression’s actually caused by intense bouts of worry. Thoughts like “Is my baby safe? Did I childproof the house? Is he developing fast enough? Is he too big? Is he too small? Is he eating right?”.

    Those are common to parents when they have a newborn. The worry causes them to get depressed. New parents tend to forget the human race has been raising children for thousands of years and managed to survive in the most dire of circumstances. Their children stand a very good chance of being ok.

  • Peyton Laine

    June 19th, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    It surprises me more that it’s always thought that postpartum depression is gender-specific. Of course dads can get depressed after the birth of their son or daughter. Men are traditionally the breadwinners in the family and often everything falls on them to feed an extra mouth as well as make sure the young ‘un grows up to be an upstandng, well adjusted human being. That’s pressure.

  • V.B.

    June 19th, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    Everyone and his wife (perfect time to use that cliche haha!) knows what it’s like to raise a kid: how you can’t sleep, how they cry over everything, how you have to get them their checkups and shots, how you have to buy stuff for the baby and so on.

    Pretty much every adult has dealt with this or knows a parent who has. I’m not convinced about the stigma part.

  • Katherine Docherty

    June 20th, 2011 at 12:20 AM

    @Tracy: Thinking back to when my daughter was born, I got less sleep. I also got less food because I was busy looking after her and thus had less time to eat.

    I got less out of my paycheck which was the sole income for the house because I was buying things for her room, paying her medical bills, starting a college fund for the future, and ensuring she would grow up healthy.

    I’m almost certain your husband was doing the same by working very hard to provide for his family of five kids. Seven if you include you both.

    In other words lady: cut the guy some slack, geesh!

  • Lyle Harding

    June 22nd, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    @Ruth-Those factors apply to many anxiety issues. Outside stressors have the heaviest impacts on those who are being pushed towards the edge, having to deal with new money issues, health issues, conflicting information, and most annoyingly, backseat parenting from other family members.

    It’s a miracle any couple has more than one child.

  • Kyle Gilmour

    June 23rd, 2011 at 11:11 PM

    @Eric–What made me raise my eyebrows is that it says right in the article that 25% of new dads have post-partum depression, and the population of the world is seven billion. That means that several hundred million men have or are suffering from this disorder and nobody paid attention.

    This is like a guy who lives in San Francisco not knowing what the Golden Gate Bridge is! How can this possibly have stayed under the radar for so long?

  • s.g. calderwood

    June 25th, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    @Kyle Gilmour: Donald hit the nail on the head as to why. He says that men get PPD, but nobody pays attention because of it being all about mom and the baby.

    Nobody cares about men in relationships anymore. It’s like their usefulness ends the second the kid is born. It used to be that the man was a respected breadwinner whose role in life was to guide their children to levels of greatness that would exceed his own.

  • fighting the fact.

    June 29th, 2011 at 12:08 AM

    Sorry girls, but whoever said that men dont go through this is straight out WRONG!! I know someone who went through it and now everything is falling apart for him. Men i am a new mother and i 100% understand what you all are going though, Its hard. but just know that you have a family that is counting on you and need you, dont feel abandon or as if your left out. you may feel that but its not entirly true. you baby and you wife need you the most, you may not see that but deep down in thier heart, they appriciate you and love you truly. I am a mother whos husband went through it and it has not done any good to him til now, so try your best and hang in there. cause soon enough everything will get better and better.

    A new mother who is willing to help!

  • Andrea Schneider, LCSW

    July 15th, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    Wow, lots of responses here…the truth is that yes, indeed, men can and do get postpartum depression. It is a legitimate medical situation that requires treatment and is not “fabricated” in the mind of the person who has it. Postpartum depression in both men and women can have symptoms of anxiety…but just “worrying about your baby” does not cause PPD. In fact, intense worries or intrusive thoughts are often generated as a result of PPD. The reality is that both men and women need support during the transition to parenthood, and because perinatal mood/anxiety disorders are so common, better screening practices need to be in place at medical establishments….

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