By Kelley Allen
Fathers are typically recognized for the supportive role they have in their partner’s recovery from postpartum depression and/or anxiety. However they are often overlooked in research and health care as potential sufferers of postpartum depression (PPD). Studies show that one out of every ten fathers experience PPD during their transition to parenthood, with some research finding that the number can be as high as one in four. However, this number can substantially increase to 25-50% when the partners of men are experiencing PPD as well. These numbers show that postpartum depression can be a debilitating and common disorder experienced by men.
Like PPD in women, certain risk factors are thought to be linked to fathers and postnatal depression. These can include: a history of depression, fathering at a young age, fears associated with parenting, lack of sleep, hormonal changes in the body, relationship issues with spouse, relationship issues with one or both parents, excessive stress, lack of support, and economic problems or limited resources. As research on paternal PPD is still relatively new, the possible causes are still not well understood. When it comes to the cause, the most consistent finding is that the father has an increased risk of experiencing depression if his partner is experiencing depression.
For more information about Paternal Postnatal Depression, including an assessment based on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, visit the following website. The site is based on the work of Dr. Will Courtenay, a psychotherapist who specializes in helping men with postpartum depression.
To view an excellent resource on Fathers and Postpartum Depression from the Pacific Post Partum Support Society, click here.
In addition, the Services for Dads portion of our website contains essential information on the signs of PPD in men, coping strategies, resources, and videos of men who experienced PPD personally.
Understandably, some anxiety and changes in mood are a normal part of transitioning to parenthood. It is the degree to which symptoms interfere with your normal functioning that determines whether PPD is an appropriate diagnosis. Fortunately, medical treatment, exercise, diet, and support from allied health professionals can help alleviate and manage depressive symptoms.
If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from PPD, call the PPPSS support line or talk to your family doctor.
*Source – Habib, C. (2012). Paternal perinatal depression: An overview and suggestions towards an intervention model. Journal of Family Studies, 18, 4-16.