Postpartum depression doesn’t only affect the person who gave birth. It’s also essential to know the warning signs for fathers and partners.
When you think about postpartum depression (sometimes referred to as PPD), you might think about a mother who just gave birth to her child and may be experiencing prolonged sadness, disconnection, and more.
Editor’s note: this article is for informational purposes and is not medical advice. If you believe you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression, please seek proper medical care and treatment. This article is not intended to diagnose postpartum depression.
But in some cases, fathers, partners, or caregivers can also experience PPD.
Current Statistics show that 1 in 10 (or 10%) of new fathers will experience postpartum depression, and it’s believed this percentage is higher as cases might be underreported and underdiagnosed.
A small study concluded that when a mother experiences PPD, a father is more likely to experience it because the dynamic of their relationship changes while entering parenthood.
Sleep deprivation, a previous mental health diagnosis, and a lack of support can also contribute to someone developing postpartum depression.
Also, it’s essential to remember that all PMADs are treatable with the right therapy and course of treatment, but recognizing you or your partner need help is a critical first step.
What to look for with postpartum depression in fathers
The most common symptoms of postpartum depression include the following:
- Loss of interest
- Lack of engagement with the baby
- Anger or frustration
- Feeling like they’re not doing enough at home
- Isolation from the family
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that fathers and partners should also be screened for PPD during child checkups with the pediatrician, regardless of marital status or gender.
Just like mothers, fathers can feel disconnected from their babies. The lack of support and isolation a father can feel after their partner gives birth can create turmoil for the dad.
It’s important to notice if a father feels discouraged, angry, upset, and isolated from the family. Not feeling like they are doing enough and suicidal thoughts may also occur in fathers, and it is not discussed often.
What dads and fathers are at the most risk of PPD?
There are a variety of factors that can increase a father’s odds of developing postpartum depression, including the following:
- A history of depression
- A partner who is depressed
- Sleep deprivation (hello, every new parent)
- Hormonal changes (too low or too high testosterone)
- Isolation due to a lack of network
Although it is impossible to predict whether a father will experience PPD, there are many ways to ensure that a father is cared for during postpartum.
Check in daily to see how he is doing emotionally, make sure he is heard and acknowledges whatever feelings he may be experiencing, and consider parent classes before birth.
Parent classes can help ease into the new role of becoming a parent and prepare the father for the realities of having a baby at home.
What to do if you think you or your husband or partner has PPD
If a father or partner is experiencing PPD, there are many different ways to get help, such as therapy, couples therapy, or in some cases, medication as prescribed by your care physician.
It’s essential to keep an open mind and pay attention to the early signs of PPD. If your spouse/partner struggles with depression, it is vital to seek proper professional care.
Remember, all perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are treatable with the proper help, and you are not alone in these feelings. Your experience is valid.
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Cindy is a multimedia journalist passionate about writing on topics such as mental health and motherhood. Through her work, she hopes to bring awareness to many new mothers' difficulties. She is also a proud mom to a baby boy.