Did you know that Men can also suffer from Postpartum Depression?
The term Postnatal Depression does not apply to females only. Dads are included. Parenting is stressful. The idea of becoming a parent is also stressful. The clinical term for stress and anxiety during and after pregnancy is called Postpartum or Postnatal depression. While this term is commonly used on mothers who are stressed out about their newborn baby, it is actually a term for both male and female sexes. Yes, males can suffer from postpartum depression (PPD) even if they did not go through the physical act of childbearing and childbirth.
Read a real story of a father who suffers from postpartum depression here
Causes of PPD:
If you think that only the female go through hormonal changes during and after pregnancy, you are quite wrong. Males apparently experience a decrease in testosterone levels and rise in estrogen levels; a natural reaction of the body so that fathers will bond and stay with their babies. These hormonal changes make the new dad more susceptible to depression.
Other causes of PPD include sleep deprivation (from attending to infant cries at night), anxieties from the changes in lifestyle (no more drinking with friends on Friday nights), lack of support and sense of insecurity, the same few reasons that trigger female PPD.
Related article: Things they don’t tell you about pregnancy
While statistics have shown that majority of the patients diagnosed with PPD are women, we cannot be so sure that the male group is significantly smaller. This is because women are generally known to be more open about speaking up and more receptive to help. Women are also more aware of the possibilities of suffering from depression after giving birth.
Men, on the other hand, have to bear the burdens of stereotypes such as the male ego and the need to keep things in. Men are also generally more confused about pregnancy and childbirth because they obviously do not partake in that process. To make matter worse, the man has to now take care of both his baby and his wife, and his job. There is only so much a man can take as well.
Read more: Hey! Pregnancy is daddy’s responsibility too!
Symptoms of PPD:
General signs include prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss of control, sleeping and eating disorders, social withdrawal, mood swings, decrease in sex drive and persistent aches and tiredness. These symptoms may not come across as obvious signs of depression as one can feel this way on a bad day or when facing a difficult period of time. But when these symptoms are affecting the way you function in daily life, that’s when the red light should be up.
Read more about symptoms of postpartum depression here:
Most men turn to risky activities to avoid the negative feelings that depression brings. (In some cases of PPD, parents don’t even want to see their baby or have thoughts of harming their baby). They could indulge in alcohol, smoking, extramarital affairs or spending long hours at work or gym just so they don’t have to be home. But there are better ways to help a man deal with PPD.
Here are tips to cope with PPD:
Acknowledge that you are facing a problem
Having depression is not your fault. It is a way your body tells you that you are not okay, and it can be cured. If there is nothing to be ashamed about getting a fever, depression should not be a shameful thing as well. The only way to cope is to first admit that you are facing a problem, and move on from there.
Take a step back and take one step at a time
Most PPD stems from the fear of being unable to take care of the new baby. You don’t have to be a superdad straightaway. You don’t have to know how to manage everything all at once. Take a step back to think about what is the most urgent need that you have to take care of and take one step at a time from there.
Talk to your spouse
Having a baby does not mean that your relationship with your wife have to change. One of the major strains that PPD have on a couple’s marriage is that the depressed party becomes withdrawn and unwilling to speak, leading to frustrations and gradual depression on the other party as well. Opening up even about trivial things will prevent negative feelings from accumulating and crushing your marriage along the way.
Seek professional help
As mentioned, depression can be cured. If medication and therapy are necessary, go for them. Speaking to a medical expert can help you find out the root cause of your stress so you can get rid of the problem more effectively.
Ask for support or help
If you need a break, take a break. If you need help, ask for help. Take a day off and get someone to help you babysit your child. Hire a helper if necessary; ask your parents if they can offer a helping hand. You would be surprised by how much people are willing to help if you would just ask.
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