Dads Get Postpartum Depression, Too
Study Shows 10% of Dads Suffer Depression After Child's Birth
Postpartum Depression Does Not Discriminate continued...
Paulson tells WebMD that as of now, there is no information on how depression is affecting a father's preventive health behaviors. "We can't look at dad's breastfeeding, that's silly," he tells WebMD. And "we don't have data on whether they are putting their babies to sleep with bottles," he says.
But the finding that depressed dads don't interact with their children is "really a critical thing and [interaction] is needed for children to develop cognitively and emotionally in a normal way," he says.
Know the Signs
While women often show signs of frank sadness when they are depressed, men may be more likely to be irritable, aggressive, and sometimes hostile when depressed, he says.
"The best thing for somebody to do when they notice signs of depressiondepression is to talk to a doctor, counselor, psychologist, or social worker who can make an affirmative diagnosis that there is depression that needs to be treated," he suggests.
The new findings do not surprise New York City psychoanalyst and father Leon Hoffman, MD. Hoffman is also director of the Pacella Parent Child Center. "We see this very commonly," he tells WebMD. "It's very important for pediatricians to be on the lookout for signs of postpartum depression in men."
In addition to not interacting with their baby, a depressed dad can't be supportive of the mother, he says.
Different Reasons, Same Problem
The reasons that men experience postpartum depression may be different than the reasons for women, says Terrence Real, a couples therapist and author of I Don't Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression.
"Generally speaking, a man may be feeling burdened or entrapped at the prospect of caring for a child or caring for yet another child," he tells WebMD. "They will feel like all the financial responsibility is on their shoulders. Or maybe men are suffering withdrawal from being tended to in their marital relationship," he says. "They are missing their wives."
So what's a concerned spouse to do?
"In a gentle or loving way say, 'I think you have been depressed since this baby,'" Real suggests. "Let him know that men do get depressed around this time and that even though postpartum depression in women grabs all the headlines, men are close behind," he says. "You want him to talk about it and depending on how severe it is, you want him to get help."