Postpartum depression in new mothers is something that occurs frequently. Around 14 percent of new moms experience it.
And as common as it is in mothers, it is common in fathers as well although much less documented. In every 10 new dads, one has paternal postpartum depression (PPPD).
As with many forms of depression, the onset and signs often fly under the radar. This means that a large number of fathers are going through this kind of depression silently.
Is postpartum depression a disease? Well, let’s get some background on it to answer this question properly.
Before you have your baby, you imagine moments of extreme joy and happiness after the birth. You imagine endless toothless smiles and heartwarming chuckles bringing your family closer together.
However, when you do give birth, you get after delivery problems and understand that the reality is far from what you imagined. The smiles and chuckles are replaced by endless crying and fussing with your moments of peace being few and far between.
This abrupt change in life brings about a more somber mood in the home. When this mood deteriorates, you become depressed, fatigued, and irritable. You feel inadequate and guilty at the same time.
While these signs show up fairly easily in the mothers, symptoms of depression in men take longer to appear. However, you can notice them in your partner any time after your baby has arrived.
Even the most mentally strong men can be brought to their knees by postpartum depression. Here are some of the things that can cast a dark cloud over your partner’s mental wellbeing:
- Being swamped by the expectations of fatherhood
- Feeling left out of the connection between mother and child
- Being denied sexual relations by the partner
- Increased financial burden
- A history of depression.
While postpartum depression in mothers is more noticeable, the symptoms in men increase gradually after the birth of the child.
If you are first-time parents, you have a higher chance of getting postpartum depression. There is a lot of pressure – especially on the man – to provide for the new family. These expectations weigh on his mind and are likely to trigger the depression.
This depressing environment is not good for you or the baby. You, therefore, need to keep an eye on your partner.
Common pppd signs to look out for:
- Partaking in alcohol and other drugs
- Losing interest in hobbies
These signs are easy for you to spot especially if you are very familiar with your partner’s usual habits and personality.
Yes, it can. If your partner is a laid back and logical individual, sudden and frequent bursts of anger can be the first signs of postnatal depression.
Some of the other symptoms might not be easy for you to spot. Nonetheless, they exist and show that your partner is going through depression.
This depression can also translate into the bedroom. Your partner doesn’t make any advances to have sex. Compliments about your looks are also few and far between, making you feel undesirable in your partner’s eyes.
If you are an outgoing kind of couple, the depression will make your partner stay in more. He will shun his friends and prefer to be by himself with his thoughts.
When depressed, some people eat a lot while others stay away from food. You will, therefore, notice a marked increase or decrease in weight.
As we had already seen earlier in the postpartum depression statistics, one in ten new fathers experiences postnatal depression. This condition is serious but you can help him to overcome it.
There are plenty of ways you can steer him away from the bad thoughts that invade his mind during this trying period. Consider the following 6 steps:
- Communicate frequently and effectively. With clear lines of communication, you can always know how you’re both feeling. When you talk about how you really feel, you can always have a handle on the situation.
- Encourage your partner to join a support group of fathers with postnatal depression. When most people experience postpartum depression, they plant the blame squarely at their feet. They feel alone. By joining the group, he will know that he isn’t alone. By interacting with people with the same experiences, he can pick up some advice and tips on how to overcome the depression.
- When depressed, there are things that set him off. Find out what these triggers are and minimize or eliminate them completely. He will calm down and find it easier to return to normalcy.
- If you have sought intervention from a medical professional, make sure that your partner adheres to the treatment plan.
- Also, make sure that he is off the bottle and other recreational drugs. This will prevent him from going deeper into depression. The booze can also react with the medication and cause serious consequences.
- You can also work off the ppd symptoms by exercising regularly. Accompany your partner out on a jog so that he doesn’t feel like he’s going at it alone. Let it be a team effort and he will come out of that dark mental space more easily. The exercise also keeps both of you healthy. And you need this since you are looking after a whole other new human being.
There are instances when the depression manifests in ways that pose a danger to you, your baby, and partner.
When you notice the symptoms for male depression taking a turn for the worse, you should seek intervention from a medical professional.
If your partner’s suicidal thoughts and tendencies come to the fore, you should seek help immediately. This is because he can turn these thoughts into violence directed towards both you and the baby.
When the depression is making it difficult for you and your partner to complete your normal daily tasks, it is high time you visited your doctor.
There are no official diagnostic tests for paternal postpartum depression but your doctor will check to see if there are any underlying medical conditions. The doctor may also suggest you a test in the form of a questionnaire about the developed symptoms and anxiety. If left unchecked, your partner’s depression can spill out and affect everyone he is in contact with. This includes you as well.
Your child needs a safe and positively stimulating environment so that they can grow and develop normally. You should, therefore, keep an eye out for the signs of paternal postpartum depression. If you believe that the situation is getting out of hand, consult your doctor to find a way forward.