Most people realize that postpartum depression affects new moms, but few realize how common male postpartum depression is. A new study published in the journal JAMA reveals that more than ten percent of new dads experience postpartum depression – and it’s more severe when mom has it too.
Postpartum Depression in Men: It’s an Underappreciated Problem
Researchers used a meta-analysis to look at the rates of postpartum depression in men – using 43 different studies involving over 28,000 fathers. Many of these fathers were first time dads. The incidence of male postpartum depression was surprisingly high in these men. Between the first trimester of pregnancy and one year after birth, 10.4% of dads experienced postpartum depression. The risk of experiencing postpartum depression was greatest when the baby was between the ages of three and six months – with almost one in four dads experiencing symptoms during this time period.
Is Postpartum Depression in Men Associated with Postpartum Depression in New Moms?
Researchers wanted to find out whether the symptoms of postpartum depression in these new dads were related to symptoms in the mom – and they did find an association. If a mom experienced severe symptoms of depression after birth, it worsened the symptoms of postpartum depression in the dad. This doesn’t necessarily mean that male postpartum depression is caused by mom being depressed – just that the two are associated. When a mom experiences postpartum depression, it’s important to know that dad could be affected too.
Male Postpartum Depression: More Awareness is Needed
People generally think of postpartum depression as being a female problem, but this study suggests it’s surprisingly common in men too. Unfortunately, some medical professionals aren’t even aware that male postpartum depression occurs – much less capable of treating it, but the suspicion should be high when the mom is experiencing problems. Men who have a history of depression in the past may be more susceptible to developing postpartum depression and should be closely followed after the baby’s birth.
Postpartum Depression in Men: The Bottom Line?
Postpartum depression affects men too – and needs to be acknowledged. If a man is experiencing signs of depression after his wife gives birth, the best approach is to urge him to see a counselor to better understand what treatments options are available. Sometimes simple lifestyle changes such as regular exercise or meditation can ease the symptoms. The key is to seek help.