It Turns Out that Dads Can Get Postpartum Depression

In Health & Wellness, mental health by Tree House Recovery

Many people are aware that women have a greater risk of depression than men do–although that difference is not as big as many assume. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 5.3 percent of men suffered an episode of major depression in 2017 compared to 8.7 percent of women. One reason women are thought to suffer more from depression is that changes in hormones affect mood and these changes in hormones are especially drastic during pregnancy and childbirth. That’s why many women suffer from postpartum depression. However recent research shows that men suffer from postpartum depression too. 


What causes it

While hormonal changes are typically blamed for postpartum depression in women, hormones are only part of the story. New mothers have to get by on inadequate and sporadic sleep for months following childbirth. Many studies have shown that inadequate sleep leads to cognitive impairments, more anxiety, and even more thoughts of suicide. This is compounded by a massive and sudden increase in responsibility and financial stress. While new fathers may not have to deal with the same hormonal changes as new mothers, they likely have to deal with the other factors and the more involved they are with the support and care of the child, the more they are affected too. What’s more, men who do develop postpartum depression are less likely to seek help. This is unfortunate, since being a good dad is hard enough without being depressed too.


Who is likely to be affected

Estimates of how many men suffer from postpartum depression vary widely, from four percent up to more than 25 percent. It turns out that the biggest risk factor for paternal postpartum depression is maternal postpartum depression. If the mother experiences depression during pregnancy or after childbirth, the father’s risk jumps to between 24 and 50 percent. This shouldn’t be surprising. The pressures and anxieties associated with a new baby are already significant and trying to help a depressed partner only adds to that stress. It also appears that younger dads also experience greater anxiety while awaiting a child and that may affect postpartum depression risk. You may also be at greater risk if you have preexisting mental health issues, such as a history of depression, anxiety, OCD, or others. 


Postpartum depression carries an even greater stigma for men than depression but the consequences of ignoring it are even worse. Children need fathers in their lives. If you want to take care of your family, it’s crucial to take care of your mental health too. Depression is the most common cause of disability in the US and it’s one of several mental health issues that significantly increases your risk of a substance use disorder. If you have issues with substance use Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon can help. Call us today at (503) 850-2474 to learn more about our comprehensive addiction treatment program.