Postpartum Depression for Dads

Having a baby can be one of the highlights of a dad’s life, right?  Isn’t it a time of excitement and joy too?  Well, yes it is and it can be.  However, it is a huge change in a man’s life; one that he really can’t completely comprehend or ever be completely ready for.  As a father of four, I know there were new challenges every time we added another child.  I remember when our first daughter was born.  I was still in graduate school and my wife had to go back to work full-time after we had Lauren.  Looking back, it took a lot of juggling of our schedules to make it all work and life was immediately very different. 

New dads are forced to face the reality of what it means to have a newborn child.  There is less sleep or sometimes a child who is inconsolable. New moms are exhausted, but new dads are tired too.  We go to work exhausted and no longer have the time or energy to do the many things we used to do. Sometimes the adjustment is easier than other times. In the short term this might be a fairly simple adjustment, but sometimes it can be extremely difficult.  Some men understandably struggle with the changes and can develop a negative outlook on life.  Difficulty sleeping, irritability, stress in the relationship with the partner, and  difficulty handling the stress of work are all very real things new dads face.  Some new dads start backing away from friends and family. Some men drink more.

Whether you know it or not, these are all signs of depression.  You may think that you just need to “man up” and get over it, but it’s not that simple or easy. Depression is a very real issue and the fact is, you are not the only man going through this. Every day there are many new dads who become depressed. According to some studies at least 10% and up to 25% of new dads suffer from Parental Perinatal Depression (PPND), which is similar to Postpartum Depression (PPD) for women.  

You may wonder, “I thought that this type of depression was just something women experienced”. Well, postpartum depression can also impact men. One of the challenges that face many new fathers is being able to identify and then acknowledge when they are depressed. Rather than going it alone, it is important for new dads to reach out and receive help and support from those people who are important in their lives and be open to other resources available in the community.

Author: Craig De Witt, PsyD