Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Font Size

    When Men Get Postpartum Depression

    Yes, men too can get depressed after the baby arrives. Learn to recognize the symptoms.
    WebMD Feature

    Mothers are not the only ones at risk of depression when the baby arrives. Postpartum depression strikes a lot of dads as well. A 2010 study found that 1 in 10 men gets depression either shortly before or after the arrival of a newborn. That's only slightly lower than the rate among women. And researchers reported in April that young dads remain at higher risk of depression during the first few years of fatherhood.

    While health professionals know it happens, they don't know a lot about it, says Michael W. O'Hara, PhD. He's a professor of psychology at the University of Iowa. "People have begun to look at postpartum depression in men over the past several years, but it's still flying under the radar."

    O'Hara says it's not clear yet whether there's a link between childbirth and a dad's depression, but changes such as lost sleep, changing family dynamics, and big responsibilities can raise the risk.

    Male Postpartum Depression Symptoms

    Are you a new or expecting dad (or do you know someone who is)? Pay attention to the possibility of depression. After all, it's not just bad for you -- it's bad for the baby, too. Depressed people tend to be less mindful about child safety, O'Hara says.

    To make the transition to fatherhood a little bit easier, start by spotting the red flags of depression:

    Watch for changes. Are you sleeping and eating poorly? Do you have less energy than usual? Do you enjoy everyday things less than before? These are symptoms of depression. "If a guy is out of his normal mood state for several weeks, I'd encourage him to seek some help," O'Hara says.

    Sleep tight. Easier said than done, perhaps, but it's crucial because lack of sleep can make you more prone to depression.

    "In the beginning, the key thing is to try to get a reasonable sleep schedule," O'Hara says. Take naps if necessary and work out a rest schedule with your wife or partner.

    Talk, talk, talk. You're not in this alone, so talk with your partner about what you both expect, and tell her how you're doing. "Be as open as possible with your wife or partner, even if you find that difficult to do," O'Hara says.

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
    slideshow fetal development
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    What Causes Bipolar
    Woman trying on dress in store
    pregnant woman
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    calendar and baby buggy
    dark chocolate squares