Did you know that approximately 1 in 10 men experience paternal postpartum depression (PPD) after the birth of their children?
On average, new dads more or less expect a lot of sleepless nights, diaper duty, and other typical joys of being a new parent. However, paternal postpartum depression, is certainly something that new fathers don’t expect or are prepared for the arrival of their newborn. The wave of paternal postpartum depression can hit at any time, so it is essential for new dads to keep a wary eye out for its common symptoms.
The Symptoms of Paternal Postpartum Depression
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), parental postpartum depression can affect anywhere from 4 to 25 percent of new fathers. Unfortunately, PPD can go undetected and untreated, as most men aren’t familiar with the signs and symptoms associated with this debilitating form of depression.
Here are a few signs of PPD in men to look out for:
● Inability to sleep
● Sleeping too much
● Severe fluctuations in weight
● Frequent episodes of unexplained anger
● Feelings of hopelessness
● Inability to concentrate
● Thoughts of death and suicide
During these bouts of depression, men are more likely to become aggressive, irritable, and even hostile toward their family, and can even display little desire to engage with their newborn child.
While first-time dads have the greatest risk for developing PPD, they are even more susceptible if their partner is also experiencing postpartum depression. In fact, another study published by the NIH shows that the likelihood of postpartum depression in dads whose partner is also suffering from PPD increases by 2.5 times.
Causes of Paternal Postpartum Depression
While the research on postpartum depression in men is still ongoing, doctors see a significant dip in male testosterone levels and an increase in estrogen, prolactin and cortisol levels around the time of their child’s birth. Furthermore, there’s typically a spike in PPD in men around the 3-6-month mark, as this is generally the time when working moms return to the workforce. As dads become more involved with raising their children, the rise in PPD becomes more pronounced.
The best way to tackle postpartum depression in both men and women is by seeking the help of a professional. Men are notorious for their reluctance to acknowledge their mental pain, which can often lead to greater negative consequences in the long run.
However, simple talk therapy can truly work wonders when utilized with consistency. A licensed therapist can help new fathers work through their negative thoughts and find productive ways to manage their anger. And if they are not comfortable or don’t have the time to visit a therapist in person, there are plenty of tele-therapy options available that can help fathers in need to speak with a licensed therapist online and in the comfort of their home.
One such option is LARKR, a company that I and my wife Christianne Kernes co-founded. LARKR is a convenient mobile platform that provides professional, affordable, and private talk therapy via video chat. With time, talk therapy can help new fathers and new mothers heal, so they can be the best possible parents to their newborn children.
About Shawn Kernes
Shawn Kernes is the Co-Founder and CEO of LARKR On-Demand Behavioral Health, which aims to make mental, emotional, and behavioral health care immediate, accessible and affordable for all.