Yes, men can get postpartum depression. It may not even be uncommon. As many as 10% of new fathers have indicated that they’ve felt some degree of post-partum depression, and there are reasons to believe that this could be a massive undercount.
Postpartum depression is often viewed as a disorder that only affects women and other child bearing adults. It is attributed to many factors, most notably hormonal changes, breastfeeding, and difficulty adjusting to life post-labor. All three of those issues do not typically affect men (and other non-childbearing partners), and so the idea that postpartum depression can occur in men is often ignored.
But the reality is that postpartum depression can absolutely affect men for a variety of reasons, and it may be helpful to know that a therapist can support you as you try to navigate these changes. If you need to talk to someone today, call Flourish Psychology in NYC.
What Causes Postpartum Depression in Men?
“When I had my first son, I expected to feel elated. But he just didn’t feel like mine. He didn’t look like me. He didn’t feel familiar. It felt like I was caring for someone else’s child. I loved him, and he was a beautiful baby, but I expected to feel instantly connected and, when I didn’t, I felt extremely low in a way that lasted the first few months after his birth.”
Ppstpartum depression does not have a single cause. It is typically a mix of different issues that can all affect both partners. Some of the many issues that lead to postpartum depression include:
- Lack of sleep
- Difficulty managing the transitions.
- Past trauma about child rearing
- Struggles bonding with the baby (also may be a symptom)
- Adjustments to life.
- Arguments and frustrations in the relationship.
- Fears over the baby’s health/wellness.
- Confusion over the baby’s needs.
Envision any new parent that is waking up every 2 hours to feed and change diapers, hears a screaming child all night, and is bombarded by phone calls and visitors all while they cannot spend any romantic or calm moments with their partner. Lack of sleep alone has been linked to depression. Combine that with all these other emotions and it’s easy to envision how both partners can develop these PPD symptoms.
In addition, men are less likely to have an immediate bond with the child (likely due to hormonal differences and not carrying the baby for 9 months), are typically not given much support by friends and family, and are not always raised to know how to transition to childcare with ease.
Women have a higher risk for postpartum depression for a variety of very valid reasons, but it is also easy to see how and why PPD can affect men as well.
How is Postpartum Depression in Men Treated?
Postpartum depression is a unique mental health struggle. For many men, PPD goes away on its own over time. But many others experience some of the effects of PPD for weeks, months, or even years. In addition, the behavioral effects of PPD can last for a long time, even without realizing it. Adjusting to parenting a newborn can change how a father acts if he feels disconnected in those early stages.
Therapy can help. But rather than see it as therapy for PPD, it should be viewed as therapy for transitions, parental stress, trauma recovery, relationship health, and more – a more encompassing approach that will help parents throughout the transition to parenthood.
Because postpartum depression is not just about having a baby, men that engage in more ongoing therapy to get a better handle on the issues that can affect parenthood – and just being an adult in today’s world – are more likely to have the long term benefits that many men have been searching for.
It can be difficult to seek help. But if you feel like you are or have been struggling with male postpartum depression in Brooklyn or anywhere in New York City, contact Flourish Psychology.