Updated, May 2022 – Postpartum mental health issues are the most common complication of pregnancy. Postpartum Depression (PPD) and Anxiety in mothers and birthing parents is finally getting talked about, postpartum depression in men* called Paternal PostNatal Depression, or PPND, is just as common.
*While the studies that have been done solely include male partners and pronouns, the results and recommendations for care are still extremely useful to same sex and non-binary partners as well. Paternal PostNatal Depression is explained below.
What is Paternal PostNatal Depression?
A 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that up to 14.1 of men suffer from depression after the birth of their child. This number rises when partners are also experiencing depression. Other studies also note depression in new dads can affect up to 25% of fathers. The condition is called PPND, or Paternal PostNatal Depression, and with the amount of depression reported in men as a whole is typically about 5%, PPND is very real. We often attribute Depression in mothers to the obvious biological and hormonal changes experienced after childbirth. However, hormonal and emotional changes happen to men too.
You can read here to understand the difference between typical baby blues and postpartum depression in the days and weeks after birth.
Who is at risk?
PPND can happen to any father but there are also risk factors you should know about before baby arrives that may help identify PPND early. These are:
- history of depression
- partner who has depression
- an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy
- poor family relationships and little social support
How can PPND be helped?
- Early detection and action is KEY, especially if Dad or Dad’s to be are under significant stress and are predisposed to depression.
- As reported in the NIH study, men underreport their symptoms. There is still a perceived social stigma to depression so talking about it and normalizing PPND is helpful.
- You can take this assessment to see if they should be evaluated by a professional.
- For men at risk, regular exercise, proper sleep and family and social support helps. This includes Paid Leave as noted by the National Institute of Health.
- A professional assessment by a mental health professional is also recommended.
As Registered Nurse Elizabeth Hawkes has noted from her experience and research, postpartum mental health issues are 100% manageable with proper intervention and/or medication. Hawkes says, “It’s about time we include the entire family as one unit instead of only asking ‘How is mom?’ How is baby?'” For mothers and fathers, knowledge is power in managing postpartum mental health complications before they arise. If you’re experiencing PPND or have thoughts that scare you, reach out to the resources above or Postpartum.net.
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