Back in the day when I was a single dad I certainly had my fair share of bouts with depression.
In fact, I had so much going on that my doctor urged me to take a few months off work.
I did heed his advice and took a couple of months to reinvigorate myself and address my short bout with depression.
Looking back now, the topic of why dads get postpartum depression is on the radar as more and more fathers are beginning to address the elephant in the room.
Can single dads actually suffer from postpartum as well?
I have spent considerable time researching the topic with great enthusiasm, and the information may surprise you:
- What exactly is postpartum depression?
- What are the signs?
- Why more men are coming forward
- Why Hormones matter
- Can PPD be transmitted within the family?
- Suffering in silence
- Know your options
As you can see there is a fairly comprehensive bullet point list of things associated with postpartum depression, let’s now take a closer look at find out why it’s a big deal among single fathers.
What Exactly Is Postpartum Depression?
Although no established criteria for postpartum depression (PPD) in guys, symptoms of anger and irritability restricted emotions, and depression is the most common sign reported.
In fact, PPD in men is one of the least studied areas that, thankfully, is gaining a lot of traction in the last several years.
What we do know, however, is that there are several risk factors that predispose men to this damaging affliction.
For instance, a father with a history of depression, poverty, and hormonal changes, anxiety disorders, and other mental health factors can really predispose dads to PPD and other mental disorders.
Other controllable issues may also come into play such as finances, exclusion from the bond between mother and baby, Lack of social-emotional support, and Feeling overwhelmed in your role as a father should not be discredited as well.
According to my research, it’s also evident that nutrition and exercise may also serve as a protective barrier in repelling PPD (more on this later).
What Are The Signs?
Occurring in about 8 to 10 percent of dads, PPD has the greatest risk within 6 months postpartum but might stealthily rise over a year. This leads many casual observers to deduce that other factors may cause the depressive state in dads postpartum.
Here are some signs that are prevalent in guys:
- Increased agitation (and ambivalence with others)
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol
- Violent behavior and tendencies
- Substantial weight gain or loss not attributed to dieting or exercise
- Social Isolation
- Impulsiveness (the need for speed)
- Physically sick more often
- Lack of concentration
- Loss of interest (hobbies and/or sex)
- Fatigue and trouble sleeping (or oversleeping)
- Feeling anxious or crying for no reason
- Fantasies of suicide and obsession with death
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
Why More Men Are Coming Forward:
Certainly, there is quite a lot of speculation as to why more and more dads are now more than ever coming forward with PPD.
Not surprisingly, the internet as a whole along with social media and other outlets has certainly allowed information and new ideas away to basically transmit instantaneously around the world irrespective of borders.
Subsequently, this has allowed a plethora of new ideas and thought processes to take root and instill new progressive social norms.
Over the last 20 years, we have seen this rapid progression in virtually all areas, and I predict this trend to continue unabated and with greater rapidity.
Why Hormones Matter:
Like mothers, a father too can expect major hormonal levels to become heightened in preparation for their role as father and provider that changes during pregnancy and for several months following the birth of the child.
You may be wondering how and why this occurs, and I have to admit I was curious as well.
I discovered that these hormonal changes are believed to aid in the strengthening of a robust father-child bond.
For instance, reduced testosterone levels in new dads to lower levels of aggression and increased sensitive responses to a tearful baby.
furthermore, an alteration in other hormones, such as cortisol and vasopressin, may be associated with more engaged fatherly parenting and parent-infant bonding.
Although this makes sense of course for the baby, however, from a father’s standpoint a lower testosterone output is directly linked with depression, loss of muscle mass, and an increase in physical disease.
Can PPD Be Transmitted Within The Family?
What I find troubling about PPD is the ability to transmit the negative effects to your family.
Study after study concludes that having a female partner who has experienced postpartum depression has the likelihood of increasing PPD in fathers by as much as 2.5 times.
Moreover, the effects of PPD can be spilled over to your children as well causing them to experience long-term damage such as behavioral issues that can severely alter their natural growth trajectory.
Amazingly, PPD in dads could reduce dad’s ability to read to their children. This, in turn, severely hampers language acquisition causing some children to use far fewer words at 24 months.
And since their little brains are still growing and developing, these effects can have lasting consequences as they continue to mature into adulthood.
Suffering In Silence:
One of the worst things we guys can do is deal with a situation or a medical issue by ourselves when we should really be looking for the proper help to get through whatever we are going through.
Whether it be finances, career, relationship, or general health we guys have been told by folks around us that we need to suck things up and deal with it like a real man.
The problem with this belief system is that men act out in other ways when we have a difficult time dealing with whatever life has dealt us.
And is it any wonder why the suicide rates among men are through the roof?
In fact, the rate of suicide from men in comparison to females are vastly overshadowed – identified as the gender paradox in suicide.
Thankfully, there are options and more and more men are stepping up and taking control over their own mental health.
In the next section, we’ll go over what some of these options are, and what this means for you and your mental well-being.
Know Your Options:
As I mentioned in the previous section, finally men are beginning to step up and take ownership of their health by utilizing tools such as the internet to not only connect to vital services, but men are also connecting to forums where they can meet and cultivate relationships with other men in similar situations.
The largest internet source for knowledge on PPD is postpartummen.com. There you’ll find a forum to get in touch with other guys facing similar issues.
It’s a good place to start considering there is also a host of other resources, opinion articles, and various treatment options ranging from talk therapy to cognitive behavioral therapy.
In fact, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been extremely effective in relieving depression.
Support from employers, such as paid paternity leave, might also help fathers adapt to changes and stressors during the postpartum period as well.
Contrary to what some might lead you to believe, having PPD does not make you an inadequate dad, and by no means should you fall in line with the masses and assume that it does.
In my opinion, it takes a strong man to realize when he needs help beyond his control, and dealing with PPD before things get worse makes you an exceptionally good dad. Trust me on that!
Why dads get Postpartum depression?
Contrary to popular belief, there is a segment of men who suffer relentlessly with this dreadful condition, and because of the lack of resources combined with the belief system that men need to “suck it up” and deal with this condition alone means more and more guys cannot access the help they need and deserve.
Thankfully, things are changing as more men are pulling the veil of stigmatization off and claiming ownership of their problems by not only connecting with other men but by also seeking help when appropriate.
I suffered my own bout of depression with the birth from my first daughter back in 2000, but at that time there basically was no internet, and PPD was nothing more than a foreign concept I wasn’t able to grasp at the time.
If you find yourself in a lonely situation feel free to reach out to me and let’s connect. I am here to help, and if you would like to leave a comment below I would really love to hear from you as well.