Part Three in a Series (Originally posted May 2, 2011)
by Gretchen Johnson, BSN, RN-BC
While most people have heard of Postpartum Depression (PPD) many do not realize the size and scope of the problem. PPD impacts 15% of new mothers, making it difficult to care for their baby and causes damage to other relationships. And it doesn’t just affect women. Men can get PPD, too. In fact, recent studies have show that 10% of new dads get Postpartum Depression.
Why are men affected? Postpartum Depression in women has been linked to traumatic birth experiences, hormonal changes, thyroid problems, Vitamin D deficiencies, previous history of mental illness, and many other factors. So how is it that men suffer from depression after the birth of a child?
While men may not experience the full spectrum of biological and hormonal changes or other factors that impact women, they are experiencing a change in their role and a major life change. The pressure to be a good dad, the desire to succeed at being a father, and the dramatic life change can bring on PPD in men. Remember, dads also experience the lack of sleep, the frustration of trying to soothe a fussy baby, and the fear of making a mistake.
Some of the symptoms of depression in men include:
• Increased alcohol consumption
• Depressed mood
• Weight loss
• Suicidal thoughts
• Physical complaints such as stomach problems or headaches
• Difficulty concentrating
While there is much to be learned about PPD in men, one thing is sure: It is important to get help. Studies have shown that untreated PPD in men leads to marital problems, increased fighting in the home, and decreased bonding with the baby.
In general, men are less likely to get help than women. Unfortunately, it is challenging for men to seek treatment. Many healthcare providers do not realize that PPD can impact men. Further, the stigma for men is greater than for women. Yet, it is so important to get help.
If you or someone you love is struggling, there is hope; for women and men.
Here are some resources:
Mother and Baby Program
And if you’re in Kent County, Michigan:
Gretchen Johnson, MSN, RN-BC, is the Mother and Baby Partial Hospitalization Clinical Services Manager and coordinator in this program’s development. She is a member of the Healthy Kent 2020 Perinatal Mood Disorder Coalition, American Psychiatric Nurses Association, and the Psychiatric Nursing Council of Southwest Michigan.