Postpartum Depression can happen to dads too
We know postpartum depression (PPD) preys on mothers. And we have heard of its fangs ripping women apart and plunging them into deep misery at the sight of their newborn. But what about fathers; is this mental illness a menace to them too? Or are they immune to the condition simply because they are males with high testosterone levels and a macho demeanour?
Associate psychologist at Caribbean Tots to Teens Justine East-Campbell, says fathers are definitely at risk of developing PPD, especially in the first year of their child's life. Postpartum depression, however, is more common in mothers and because men are less likely to speak about their challenges, their depression usually goes unnoticed.
"It's often the partner, a close family member or a friend who may notice changes and try to seek help for them. It's very important to note that lack of treatment of PPD can lead to chronic depression which can affect one's health and relationship, and more so the child is more likely to be affected," she said
She confesses that at times this mental illness is confused with an adjustment disorder, especially by those who fail to believe that PPD can occur in fathers.
Similarly to women, several factors contribute to PPD in fathers.
"A strained relationship with their partner during pregnancy and after delivery, their partner experiencing postnatal depression and their personality; for example, if they have a type-A personality which means they are use to being in control, may make them feel more terrified of the changes, [lead to stress and ultimately to the condition]," East- Campbell told Flair.
She adds that some studies suggest that a drop in testosterone levels can also predispose fathers to PPD.
PREVALENCE IN MALES
A recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that 10 per cent of men globally suffer from PPD in the first trimester of their partner's pregnancy. This continues up to six months after the child's birth and increases as the child grows.
As expected, as the father's mental health continues to deteriorate with depression, unsatisfactory events will unfold.
"It increases relationship conflict and dissatisfaction, especially if the depression isn't spotted. For example, the mother may think the father is simply uninterested or unsupportive," she explained.
Several symptoms surface when fathers plunge in PPD. These include low mood, severe anxiety, panic attacks, being hostile or indifferent towards the child and or mother, disturbing thoughts about harming themselves or the child and even thoughts of committing suicide.
If depression occurs, especially for more than 2 weeks and affects normal functioning, here's what each father should do.
Talk about the problems- He should talk to his partner about it. This doesn't mean he's weak, but that he recognises a problem, desires to change it, and wants the social support needed to do this.
Social Support - Get other social support from friends and family, but remember to respect the privacy of your relationship with your partner.
Find time to take care of his self- exercise, eat well, and engage in stress reducing activities that usually work for you or try something new.
Seek counselling, therapy, or medication- Talk to your paediatrician or another doctor about a referral to see someone to talk, recommend a support group, or get medication, such as an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.