When it comes to welcoming a new child and accepting new responsibilities of parenthood, dads too can struggle with mental health issues, much like mothers. 1 in 10 fathers experience postpartum depression and anxiety issues and their depression may or may not be connected to that of their partner. Parents await the arrival of their little one with much excitement, but sometimes postpartum depression can be a big obstacle between the joy of parenthood and them. Like moms, dads too can start showing symptoms of postpartum depression even before the arrival of their baby. The changes in moods, appetite and sleep are warning signs that they need medical help. A 2019 study found that the highest risk of depression during pregnancy for to-be-dads occurred during the first trimester. The study also demonstrated that postpartum depression was highest among men when the baby was 3 to 6-months-old. (Also read: Signs that you were raised by a father with unresolved trauma)
“The postpartum period comes with several adjustments which fathers have to make for the baby causing Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPD) or ‘Sad Dads’. It can severely impact one’s health. If postpartum depression is not managed at the right time then it can also turn into chronic depression over time,” says Dr Pratima Thamke, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, Kharghar.
SIGNS OF POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION IN DADS
Here are the signs of postpartum depression in dads as per Dr Thamke:
- Men showcase various signs of depression and are often frustrated or angry, easily irritable, and anxious.
- They will not be able to bond with the baby, there will be no attachment at all, they will often be confused, tense, feel helpless and uncertain about the little one’s future.
- Their relationship with the partner will lack intimacy and they will often have clashes with the partner.
- Such men will refuse to take on the child’s responsibilities and won’t show any interest at all.
- Moreover, they will also feel left out and envious of mother-child closeness.
- If the dad is depressed, then he will often engage in arguments with the partner. He can also fall prey to substance abuse and domestic violence.
Causes of postpartum depression
Studies have shown that fathers experience decline in testosterone and other hormonal changes during and after their partner’s pregnancy which could increase their chances of depression. Not being able to spend time with their wife or feeling disconnected from their partner and the little one can also be one of the reasons.
“The marital relationship involves spousal support and relationship satisfaction, both of which, impact the paternal mood. Many times, the new dads are unaware about taking care of the babies, and how to handle the babies and tend to get anxious over thinking about how the baby will do in the near future,” says Dr Thamke.
“Like mothers, fathers too are likely to go through postpartum depression because of hormonal changes. Hormones like Testosterone Vasopressin may change in fathers after the baby’s birth. Fathers who are under 25 are at risk of postnatal depression. Not only this, even financial problems, anxiety, and a history of depression can raise the risk of PDD. Lack of support from the partner and social and behavioural issues can also lead to PDD,” says the expert.
Tips to tackle postpartum depression in fathers
- The female partners should support the male partners without passing any judgment.
- Speak to other family members, friends or join support groups.
- It will be imperative for one to take note of the symptoms of depression such as feeling frustrated, anxious, stressed, agitated, worried, lack of interest when it comes to the baby, and loneliness, and consult the physiatrist on an immediate basis.