Under the Hood

Postpartum Depression: Signs And How To Avoid PPD For Fathers

Indian father Shailesh throws up his son, Harish, at a park in Amritsar on June 19, 2016, on Father's Day, a day observed in many countries to celebrate fathers and fatherhood. New study shows that many men have been receiving less attention when dealing with postpartum depression after childbirth due to stigma. Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images

Fathers can experience postpartum depression (PPD) just like new mothers. And a new study shows that many men have been receiving less attention when dealing with the mood disorder associated after childbirth. 

The findings, published in the Journal of Family Issues, highlighted the barriers facing fathers in receiving diagnosis and treatment of the “little-known” issue. Social stigma and the lack of information about men with PPD mainly contribute to the gaps between dads and PPD treatments. 
Between 5 and 10 percent of new fathers in the U.S. are suffering from PPD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"The expectations society gives to men of what they are supposed to be, what they are supposed to do, and how they do it was a significant factor on how many of these men chose to cope with life stressors," the researchers said. 

PPD causes a range of physical and emotional changes. A person experiencing the disorder may show difficulty sleeping, appetite changes, excessive fatigue, decreased libido and frequent mood changes. 

But there are uncommon signs of PPD that may cause gaps between the baby and the parent. These include feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and helplessness, and worse is thoughts of death or suicide, according to WebMD

However, PPD can be treated with proper medication or counseling. The new study also detailed what fathers need to do to address the disorder. 

How To Avoid PPD For Dads: 

1. Get proper education

The researchers said many fathers in the U.S. have no idea men could also suffer from PPD. It raises concerns with the lack of information from doctors or therapists on how to deal with the disorder. 

2. Eliminate “tough guy” stereotypes

Gender expectations have been putting pressure on dads dealing with PPD alone. Study participants admitted that the “tough guy” stereotype discouraged them from seeking medical attention or professional advice. 

3. Deal with repressed feelings

The fear of sounding ridiculous or looking weak to their wives made new fathers reluctant to share their feelings, the researchers said.  

4. Overcome overwhelming situations

Many of the fathers in the study said they found it difficult to express their emotions of confusion, exhaustion, helplessness, loneliness and feeling trapped. They also lacked sleep at night that made them more irritable to their children.

5. Combat negligence

The fathers also felt lost, forgotten and neglected by their wives as well as the healthcare system and society. Some dads said they commonly hear other people "uncomfortably laughing" during routine checkups for PPD. 

"Because men are already less likely than women to seek professional help for depression, it is vital that the stigma of PPD decreases," the researchers said. "Because paternal involvement is a significant factor in the healthy development of children, it would seem wise to make information about paternal PPD more available in order to combat its negative impact on families."