It’s a mood disorder that isn’t commonly affiliated with men. However, according to the American Psychological Association, 1 in 10 men suffer from postpartum depression.
So why don’t we hear much about it?
“Traditionally, men are less likely to ask for help than women,” says Dr. Amber Salvador, clinical psychologist at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital. “Also, depression in men doesn’t always look like depression. Men’s symptoms may show up as irritability and anger, overworking or gambling.”
Dr. Salvador adds that the symptoms of postpartum depression in men are different from women in that they tend to develop more gradually over the first year, and are often characterized by more behavioral changes ranging from increased aggression and impulsiveness to withdrawal from others.
Other symptoms common in men include physical pain, such as headaches or digestive problems, and a loss of energy.
According to Dr. Salvador, these signs of depression may result based in part on a number of factors, including:
- The baby being unplanned or unexpected
- The father feeling unhappy about the gender of the baby
- The baby is born with health problems
- A previous history of depression
- Anxiety over becoming a father
- The loss of prioritization of the couple relationship
- The loss of former lifestyle and sense of loss of identity
- The baby being colicky or having trouble with feeding
Treatment for postpartum depression is available and may range from weekly therapy with a licensed mental health professional (for moderate symptoms) to more intensive treatment (for severe symptoms).
Medications may be temporarily beneficial to reduce aggressive outbursts, and increase energy and motivation to make changes in treatment.
Most importantly, because a lack of sleep can affect depressive symptoms, creating a sleep schedule that is coordinated with your partner is vital, which may include naps and rotating night shifts.
In addition to getting enough sleep, couples should focus on good nutrition, regular exercise and making time for friends and date nights to help create and sustain a balanced and fulfilling life.
“Along with self-care, it is incredibly important for couples to communicate and work through expectations and responsibilities,” says Dr. Salvador. “Those conversations will help to foster teamwork and collaboration as couples embark on the journey of parenthood together.”
For the news media: To talk with Dr. Salvador about men and postpartum depression for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.