Understanding Paternal Depression

Updated: Apr 30


Postpartum depression treatment

When mothers get through the stages of pregnancy, some of them can develop postpartum depression (PPD). They get help from friends, family, and professionals to feel better. But what about fathers? Can they also develop PPD? The answer is yes, and there are different reasons why.


Why Dads Get Paternal Depression


According to research, around 10 percent of men showed signs of depression as early as the first trimester of their spouse’s pregnancy through six months after childbirth. Your mental health as a father is also important. Paternal mental health matters, but it is often overlooked. The causes of paternal postpartum depression are:

  • Pressure and Stress – New fathers feel the pressure as the provider of the family.

  • Hormonal Fluctuations – When a baby is born, a man’s testosterone levels go down, and estrogen, prolactin, and cortisol go up. There is still no definite reason for these hormonal changes in men.

  • Experience of Loss – Some dads might have experienced the loss of a loved one, whether as an adult or as a child growing up. Past loss can also be a factor in dad postpartum depression.

  • History of Depression – When a dad has a history of depression, he might be at a greater risk of having postpartum depression.


Signs of Male Postpartum Depression


Like maternal postpartum depression, there are also signs when a father is experiencing depression. Whether it might be yourself or someone you know, it’s good to look out for these signs:

  • Extreme sadness and sometimes anger

  • Intense feelings of worthlessness

  • No joy in the activities he loves

  • Tendency to distance himself from family and friends

  • Heart palpitations

  • Shortness of breath


Help for Dads Who Have Paternal Depression


As a dad, you must acknowledge that you can have postpartum depression, too. There are many ways you can get help. Although some people might find it strange for fathers to get postpartum depression, seeking help will benefit you and your family. Paternal depression lasts for four weeks, or it could even last for months if dads don’t seek help. When one or both parents have postpartum depression, it could affect their child’s development. Don’t worry because help is available, whether self-care practices or professional support. Contact Waterdown Maternal Mental Health Services for postpartum support in Ontario.

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