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Don’t Forget about Dad: Father’s are at risk of postpartum depression too

posted Oct 21, 2013, 9:31 PM by Megan Black   [ updated Oct 21, 2013, 9:31 PM by Tascheleia Marangoni ]

            Postpartum depression is typically perceived as an illness that only affects women with newborns and not men. However following birth, Fathers also experience several sudden changes in life, and experts suggest that these sudden life changes may cause paternal postpartum depression in men. Healthcare professionals have largely over looked male postpartum depression until recently; in May of 2008 it was the subject of a workshop at the annual meeting for the American Psychiatric Association.

Presently it is estimated that 4 to 25 percent of new Dads suffer from paternal postpartum depression. Not only do many new Fathers experience depression, but also depression among new Fathers is most prevalent in North America, particularly in the United States. Furthermore, postpartum depression in Dads jeopardizes the well being of families as children can suffer from emotional and behavioural problems and marital relationships are strained. For new Dads, different types of support may ease the transition to fatherhood. Support from understanding family members may be beneficial for new Dads as well as attending educational programs in the community. In addition, it is also suggested that sharing a maternity leave between a Mom and a Dad can help Fathers suffering from paternal postpartum depression. However, the most effective support is support received from their partner in the form of encouragement and active discussion. Fathers may experience isolation from their relationship with their partner, which can result in feelings of jealousy towards the infant. For example, John Hyman a college writing instructor shares his experience as a new Dad “I didn’t know what my role was.” John’s first child did not fill him with the joy he had hoped for. He found himself teaching more, just to get himself out of the house. His wife bonded instantly with their son Jake, John says “I didn’t have that experience, I thought I was broken.”  

            Like perinatal mood disorders and postpartum depression in women, men have reported experiencing some form of a barrier that impedes their ability to get the support they need. In a cohort study conducted by Letourneau et al., “the most commonly reported barrier was lack of information regarding paternal postpartum depression resources, followed by not knowing where to look for resources and fear of the stigma associated with paternal postpartum depression”. Consequently, there needs to be an increased amount of awareness and education on the subject. Through more awareness and education, hopefully men can find the resources and support they require.

References:

Bond, S. (2010). Men Suffer from Prenatal and Postpartum Depression, Too; Rates Correlate with Maternal Depression. Journal Of Midwifery And Women's Health, (5), doi:10.1016/j.jmwh.2010.06.015

LETOURNEAU, N. N., DUFFETT-LEGER, L. L., DENNIS, C. L., STEWART, M. M., & TRYPHONOPOULOS, P. D. (2011). Identifying the support needs of fathers affected by post-partum depression: a pilot study. Journal Of Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing, 18(1), 41-47. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2850.2010.01627.x

Scarton, D. (2008). Postpartum Depression Strikes New Dads as Well as Moms. U.S. News & World Report, 145(7), 83.

Rosen, M. D. (2013). Sad Dads. Parents (10836373), 88(4), 122.

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