Does Postpartum Depression Affect Only Moms?

No, says our expert. Men can be affected by the birth of a baby, too.

Medically Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on August 12, 2011
2 min read

In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our October 2011 issue, we asked one of WebMD's children's health experts, Roy Benaroch, MD, if it's possible for a man to get postpartum depression.

Q: My husband has been mopey and grouchy since our baby was born. I don't know what's up. How can I talk to him?

A: Your husband's dark moods could just be a result of the same fatigue and roller-coaster emotions that you're feeling now. But he could also be going through the male version of postpartum depression. Researchers now believe that some 10% of new fathers develop this.

The symptoms in men can be different from those for women. Men may get irritable, even aggressive, when they're depressed. They can also engage in destructive behaviors, like drinking more alcohol or having extramarital affairs. But the root of the problem tends to be the same. While men don't have the same dramatic hormone shifts that women experience after birth, other stressors, including financial worries, marital changes, and sleep deprivation can all trigger depression in men.

Postpartum depression generally lasts for about a year if left untreated. But if your husband is showing some of these signs, he should get treated now. Depressed fathers may be unable to relate to and care for children appropriately, which research shows negatively affects their child's emotional and physical development. Encourage him to talk to his doctor or some kind of counselor so he can get help if he needs it.