Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dads feel it too!

I got home tonight from a temple recommend interview and pulled out my brand new U.S. News and World Report. As I flipped through the headlines I came across one that said, Postpartum Depression Strikes New Dads as Well as Moms.

Well, color me surprised!

Here's the lowdown: About 14% of new moms suffer from postpartum depression. Symptoms include, but are not limited to,(doesn't that make me sound professional!) sadness, irritability, changes in weight or sleep patterns and an inability to bond with child. Postpartum depression in women has far reaching effects beyond just the mother's happiness (which is important in and of itself). Children of depressed mothers have more health problems and learning problems, and are at a greater risk for developing a mood disorder.

This is what we knew before, what is new is how men fit the profile: Approximately 10% of new fathers will suffer from PPD (well, not exactly PPD because they weren't pregnant but depression that occurs as a result of a new baby). Their symptoms are almost identical to women except that the increased sadness and irritability lead to destructive behaviors--like drug abuse, reckless driving, and promiscuity--that depressed women don't usually engage in. Depression in fathers also effects children in major ways. Children of depressed fathers get read to less often and have slower language development. Also, the children are more likely to act out destructively.

The causes for men are not as easy to pin down as they are for women. With us chicks it's supposed to be the hormones, but with men it may be that the prospect of caring for a child puts them over the edge or they struggle with the changes in their marriage.

No matter what the cause, the good news is that PPD is highly treatable. As we all have accepted by now (you have, right?) a little therapy never hurt anyone--at least not in the long run :)

For more on this issue read here and be sure to check out this awesome website PostpartumMen.com.

What do you all think? I was dubious at first but the more I thought about it the more sense it made. Have you or anyone you know struggled with this?


Jer said...

That's really interesting. I have long thought that the huge change a new baby makes in a man's life is discounted because we focus so much on the mother, but I think it's there. My husband doesn't get depressed, but there are definitely a several weeks after the baby is born where he is not as emotionally stable. I noticed it with both our babies. Even though their bodies aren't experiencing the change in hormones like ours are, they are still experiencing a huge life change. I was a lot more sensitive to my hubby the second time around--it's difficult for them, too. I'm glad to hear other people are catching on to that as well!

Charlotte said...

Love your new blog layout!!

As for PPD in men, my husband doesn't seem to suffer from that but he does manifest stress after the baby is born in other ways like anxiety and OCD. It seems like there is just a huge life change every time we have a baby. And it's even harder when both partners are suffering, I think.

Misty Lynne said...

Honestly, I can't say weather my husband was effected post baby or not. Both of us become recluse when depressed/stressed, so I never noticed one way or the other. I didn't even realize that I had minor PPD with my oldest until years later.

Anyway, I don't find it that surprising that men suffer from PPD. I always thought that it was caused just as much from stress as from hormones. Having a baby is a huge change, for both men and women, and either can have a hard time adjusting.