Postpartum Depression Affects Dads, Too

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According to a recent story by psychiatrist Dr. Richard Friedman in
The New York Times, postpartum depression doesn't just affect new mothers -- fathers can suffer the devastation, too. Here are some of the most interesting points of the story.

1. Symptoms of postpartum depression include anxiety, sadness, withdrawal, trouble sleeping and suicidal thoughts.

2. Up to 80 percent of women experience the "baby blues," a minor sadness, after giving birth; about 10 percent plummet into severe postpartum depression. We don't know the prevalence of male postpartum depression, but one study showed that four percent of new fathers had significant depressive symptoms within eight weeks of the baby's birth.

3. Men are generally not encouraged to express their emotions or ask for help (at least in the same way that women are), which can compound concerns about being a new father, stresses over family finances and fears about a loss of personal freedom.
4. There's likely a biological component to the illness, as well, just as there is for women. There is some evidence that testosterone levels tend to decrease in men when their partner is pregnant -- possibly to make the expectant fathers less aggressive and more likely to bond with their new baby. However, there is a known association between depression and low testosterone in middle-aged men.

5. The strongest predictor of paternal postpartum depression is having a depressed partner. According to one study, fathers whose partners were depressed were depressed at 2.5 times the normal risk, which makes the situation that much worse when it comes to caring for that little bundle of joy.

6. Research has demonstrated that maternal postpartum depression can impair the emotional and cognitive development of infants, and paternal postpartum has been linked to behavioural problems in boys.

For more on postpartum depression, including causes and symptoms, click here.

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