Hey Man, let's talk about parental depression.
"For a man to admit he's depressed isn't unmanly or admitting defeat. It's taking charge of his life."
Just because Dad– or another partner – isn’t Incubating a baby(or maybe neither of you did) doesn’t mean the experience cannot affect your partner’s mental health as well.
PPND is very, very real: A recent study published in Pediatrics found that depression scores among new fathers increased by 68 percent during the first five years of their children's lives, affects approximately 1 in every 10 fathers, though some estimates put it at 1 in 4 fathers, due to the lack of reporting, and seeking help. Did you know that men experience hormone changes as well? t's a double-whammy. Not only do our testosterone levels decrease, but our estrogen levels increase.
A father may be at higher risk for depression if the mother is experiencing depression already.
One study found that younger man, under the age of 29 and older men, above the age of 38, we’re up to 2.5 times more likely to experience postpartum depression, and other risk factors included a low educational level, low income, financial worries, or a poor relationship with a partner.
A fathers mental health may affect his children. I depressed father is less likely to engage in reaching activities with his child, such as reading, singing, and telling stories. It’s tough to juggle everything after baby arrives, and it’s even tougher to care for yourself at the same time you’re caring for brand new tiny human, and/or your partner(mom) who is struggling with mental illness.
With normal stress or the “Daddy Blues,” a guy's going to feel better when he gets a little extra sleep, goes to the gym, or has lunch with a friend. But with depression, these things won't make him feel better. The symptoms are more severe and last longer. If the 'blues' last more than two or three weeks, it's probably depression—and a man should get help from a mental health professional who specializes in working with men.
Untreated depression only worsens.
If you think your partner or a loved one is suffering from this form of depression, encourage them to get help for the sake of their health, and the overall well-being of the family. Left untreated, we know that postpartum mood disorders often worsen—and they can result in damaging, long-term consequences for a man, his marriage, and his entire family. Research consistently shows that a father's postpartum depression has a negative and long-term impact on the psychological, social, and behavioral development of his children—especially boys. We see this in children as young as two, all the way through adolescence, and into young adulthood. This remains true, regardless of whether the mother is depressed. If both parents are depressed, the child's development is even more severely disrupted.
Often a man's partner, a family member or a close friend is going to notice that something's wrong. If they can try to get him to open up, that would be a good way to start. But it's hard to make anyone to go to treatment if they aren't willing. Getting help can save a man's life—or his marriage. And if a father can't do it for himself, he should get help for the well-being of his child. Men need to recognize that depression is a medical condition – it's not a weakness of character.
Online support is a great resource for men,
like SadDaddy.com or PostPartumDads.org.
Symptoms of PPND he may be feeling are:
- not going out anymore
- not getting things done at work/school
- withdrawing from close family and friends
- relying on alcohol and sedatives
- not doing usual enjoyable activities
- unable to concentrate
- Brain fog
- lacking in confidence
- ‘I’m a failure.'
- ‘It’s my fault.'
- ‘Nothing good ever happens to me.'
- ‘I’m worthless.'
- ‘Life’s not worth living.'
- ‘People would be better off without me.'
- tired all the time
- sick and run down
- headaches and muscle pains
- churning gut
- sleep problems
- loss or change of appetite
- significant weight loss or gain
If you love someone with depression, please be patient, withhold any judgment, and don’t try to be a doctor. Parenting is hard and it becomes exponentially harder for those men dealing with depression. More often than not, a simple “I’ve got your back, man” can be exactly what we need to get through the day.