As a new mom, you’re thrilled to hold your newborn for the first time, but you’re also exhausted, anxious, and perhaps a bit frightened. While it’s no secret that mothers often experience conflicting emotions and may even suffer from depression after childbirth, men are affected too.
According to a Journal of the American Medical Association study, one out of four men in the US feels depressed during the postpartum period. Fatherhood may be a milestone for some men, but there are those whose mental health is impacted by sudden parenthood. This condition, which is similar to what women experience, is called paternal postpartum depression (PPPD).
Why men suffer from postpartum depression
It is widely known that women’s progesterone and estrogen levels fluctuate before and after childbirth. Although these hormonal changes are vital to the fetus’s development, they also dramatically affect their mood.
What’s not widely known is that hormonal fluctuations may also occur in men, which may be caused by their partner’s hormonal changes during pregnancy. In most cases, men experience the same stressors that affect women during and after childbirth, including fears and doubts that come with becoming a new parent. This causes their testosterone levels to decrease and their estrogen levels to increase.
In addition, some studies show that low levels of testosterone result in depression-like symptoms, including fatigue, low mood, and irritability. However, low testosterone levels may not necessarily be related to depression.
Symptoms of PPPD
If you want to determine whether your partner’s condition is more than a mild case of the “daddy blues,” watch out for the following symptoms of PPPD:
- Low energy resulting in loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Lack of motivation
- Irregular sleeping patterns
- Changes in eating habits that may lead to weight loss or gain
- Feelings of helplessness
It’s common for some new fathers to feel better after engaging in physical activities like exercising or playing sports or getting back to a regular sleeping routine. But those who don’t and show signs of severe depressive behavior that lasts 2–3 weeks or more are likely suffering from PPPD.
Getting help for fatherhood-related depression
Some men may shrug off these symptoms and refuse to get help. But if left undiagnosed, their condition might worsen. They may turn to excessive drinking or gambling, which could eventually harm your relationship and affect your family. But with your support and encouragement to seek treatment, your partner can fully recover from PPPD.
If you live within the Chicago, Evanston, and Lake Forest areas, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our mental health professionals can offer psychiatric advice to your partner who may be suffering from PPPD.
Welcoming a new family member can be a joyful time or fraught with frustrations and anxiety. A variety of issues, including financial problems, health complications of the infant, and other pregnancy-related stressors can all affect the mental health of mothers and fathers. And while postpartum depression is commonly known to occur in women, it is not easy to spot in men.
If you notice sudden and gradual shifts in your partner’s behavior and suspect they might be suffering from postpartum depression, get in touch with Meridian Psychiatric Partners today.