Being a mom to a newborn and then trying to cope with swinging hormone levels and baby blues after delivery is something that most of us are aware of. However, did you know that a father can also go through postnatal blues? Becoming a dad to a newborn does brings in joy but it also becomes tough for a father to deal with all the anxiety related to the baby. A research shows that 10% fathers go into depression after their baby is born. This kind of depression in men is generally another form of clinical depression that simply gets aggravated with the arrival of a newborn. The sleepless nights, nappy changing, constant attention, taking care of the spouse, eventually takes a toll on the men and exhausts them completely, triggering baby blues. It is important for men to understand their anxiety and try to go in for postpartum depression analysis. It is also good for them to talk it out with other men who are either going through or have experienced such baby blues.
Postpartum depression in men involve a lot of factors may they be social, physical or emotional. There are certain things that impact both men and women alike, such as lack of social and emotional support, sleep deprivation, stress in the relationship, difficulty in transition to motherhood/fatherhood, certain expectations that were not met by either spouse before birth, a traumatic birthing experience and so on. However, the main factors that are only relevant to men would be the change of role from husband to father, their inherent nature to keep things and problems within and not share them, their feeling of not bonding enough with the newborn leading to tensions with the partner, the constant worry of providing more to the family with increased responsibilities.
There are a lot of known risk factors related to paternal postpartum depression that can worsen the case such as: being a father for the first time, marital discord, family history of depression, the partner of the man with postpartum depression, low self esteem, irritability towards the baby and a feeling of being incapable as a parent.
Effects of postnatal depression
Paternal postnatal depression is more likely in men who already have a history of depression or whose partner/wife is also suffering from postpartum depression. The general effects of postnatal depression would be a feeling of loss and gain, a feeling of confusion, an overwhelming surge, isolation. Depressed fathers would not want to get involved with their babies and would on the contrary be aggressive and irritable. Such men have a feeling of being low, poor appetite, sleeplessness, scattered concentration and generally not enjoying themselves.
This might get a little serious with sleep deprivation and then trouble sleeping, irritability, anger bouts, withdrawal and probably drinking, being the common symptoms of a man suffering from postnatal blues.
Postnatal depression in men is also known as PPND (for Paternal Postnatal Depression) and should not be taken lightly at all. If not treated at the right time, this depression can have long term damages for the father, child and the entire family. With the right intervention in terms of treatment and family support, a man suffering from PPND can recover completely. If you suffer from PPND, you must not ignore the general symptoms and must consult a doctor.
Also, do not try to take to drinking or drugs in the hope of a quick escape, which is the worst thing you could ever do. Do remember that you matter a lot to your child, partner and family. Don’t shy away from getting help from friends and family and tell them how you are doing.
A man going through postnatal blues not only affects himself but also the development of his child, if left untreated. It has been shown in a research that the fathers suffering from PPND will have children with a poor emotional, social and behavioural outcome when they turn three years of age. You must be responsible enough to get the necessary help whether it is from any organization, doctor, nurse or even support groups.