Men Are Not Immune
Recent studies have shown that up to 10 percent of fathers experience paternal depression or anxiety. PMAD 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 why are men affected?
While men may not experience the full spectrum of biological and hormonal changes or other factors impacting 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 paternal depression (PMAD in men). Plus, dads also experience the lack of sleep, the frustration of trying to soothe a fussy baby and the fear of making a mistake.
Other factors of the male experience can contribute to paternal depression and anxiety, including the change of family dynamics that lead to feelings of exclusion from the parenting role, additional financial stress and family responsibilities, unmet expectations for resumption of the sexual relationship, the impact of changing social roles for fathers in the family and reduced likelihood of a man talking about feelings due to socialized ideas about masculinity. If the man’s partner is experiencing a PMAD, he has double the risk to develop one, too.
While much is to be learned about paternal depression, one thing is sure: It is important to get help. Studies have shown untreated paternal depression leads to marital problems, increased conflict in the home and decreased bonding with the baby.
Paternal Depression Symptoms
- Being easily stressed
- Feeling discouraged, depressed
- Impulsiveness and reckless behavior
- Increased alcohol consumption
- Increased anger and conflict
- Isolating from family and friends
- Loss of interest in work, hobbies and sex
- Misuse of prescription medication
- Physical complaints like headaches, stomach problems
- Problems with concentration and motivation
- Suicidal thoughts
- Violent behavior
- Weight loss without dieting
- Working constantly