Dads Get Postpartum Depression Too. Here Are 6 Signs To Look For

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Dads can get postpartum depression too but that’s something that’s so often left out of the conversation about parental mental health. When you think about postpartum depression (PPD), you’re more likely to think about a struggling mother trying to get through her days while caring for a new baby, right? But that’s an overly simplistic view of a problem that’s much bigger and is experienced by fathers and non-birthing parents as well. 

Postpartum depression in dads is often less recognized and misunderstood for several reasons. One of the primary factors contributing to this lack of recognition is societal messaging. Society tends to place immense pressure on new fathers to be strong, resilient and unemotional. Admitting to feelings of depression can be challenging for dads, as they may fear that it makes them seem less capable. 

Another reason is the disproportionate focus on the mother and the baby during the postpartum period. That’s reasonable to an extent considering that mothers can often (but not always) have a larger burden to deal with (pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and often being the primary caregiver), dads also go through a period of immense change. Dads may not receive the same level of support or attention, which can make their challenges go unseen. And importantly, there are also situations where dads are the primary parents so it’s essential that we also pay close attention to their mental health challenges. 

There can also be a major lack of awareness regarding the possibility of postpartum depression affecting men or a non-birthing partner. Healthcare providers, families, and even the fathers themselves may not even be aware that postpartum depression can affect dads. 

This lack of awareness can lead to undiagnosed and untreated depression in fathers, exacerbating the issue. Recognizing these factors is the first step in addressing the challenges of postpartum depression in dads and providing them with the support they need. So how do you do that? Below are six of the most common signs to watch out for. 

6 Signs of Postpartum Depression in Dads:

  1. Increased irritability

Dads experiencing postpartum depression may become unusually irritable, impatient, or short-tempered, even over minor issues. This emotional shift can affect their relationships with their partner and the baby. It’s important to remember that these mood changes are not a sign of weakness but a symptom of depression that can happen to anyone. Anger is a sign of depression that’s often missed because it’s not one of the commonly understood symptoms. 

  1. Decreased interest in hobbies 

A significant drop in interest or enjoyment in hobbies or activities that were once important to them can be a sign of postpartum depression in fathers. If a dad suddenly loses interest in activities he used to love, it’s worth exploring the possibility of depression. For example, you may notice that this new father has stopped running in the morning or listening to favourite artists in the evening. 

  1. Physical symptoms

Some men with postpartum depression may experience physical symptoms like headaches, digestive problems, or unexplained aches and pains. These physical symptoms may be a manifestation of their emotional distress. The mind-body connection is powerful, and emotional struggles can manifest physically.

  1. Changes in sleep and appetite

Insomnia, changes in sleep patterns, or significant changes in appetite (either overeating or undereating) can be indicative of postpartum depression in fathers. These changes in sleep and eating habits can further exacerbate their emotional well-being. It’s important to remember how much the physical elements of our lives like sleep, exercise, diet, and timing of these can influence our mental states. 

  1. Increased work hours

In an effort to cope with their emotions, some dads may immerse themselves in work, stay away from home more frequently, and sometimes increase their work hours. This may be due to feeling more control and purpose in a work environment, or possibly to avoid difficult emotions. Work becomes an escape from the emotional turmoil they are experiencing. It may seem like they are avoiding the home or new parental responsibilities when in reality this is a telltale sign they may be suffering. 

  1. Social withdrawal

A tendency to isolate themselves from friends and family, avoiding social interactions or previously enjoyed social activities, can be a sign of postpartum depression in dads. This withdrawal can result from feelings of shame, guilt, or inadequacy, which are common in depression.

It’s crucial for both dads and their loved ones to recognize these signs and acknowledge that postpartum depression is not a sign of weakness or failure as a parent. Rather, it’s a condition that can affect anyone and should be treated with the same seriousness as any other form of depression.

If you, or a dad you know, are experiencing these symptoms, it’s essential to seek help. Talk to a healthcare professional or a mental health provider who can offer guidance, support, and treatment options.

Remember, seeking help can make a significant difference in the well-being of the entire family. At The Perinatal Collective, our team of therapists are here to support mothers, fathers, and non-birthing parents through all mental health-related struggles in every chapter of parenthood. In our sessions, we can ensure that fathers receive the support and understanding they need during this crucial time in their lives.

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About The perinatal collective

Welcome! So glad you're here. 

We're a team of mental health therapists across Canada with advanced education and experience in perinatal mental health, meaning you don't have to cross your fingers and hope that we understand how hard this stage can be.

We understand the nuances of the early stages of parenthood: how typical counselling strategies may not be relevant to parents with young kids, and how mental health challenges look different during this time.  

From deciding to have children, to navigating your journey through fertility, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, relationship changes, parenting, career demands and beyond, parenthood can be full with challenges.

Our goal is to help you manage the peaks and valleys of the entire journey, while staying connected to yourself, and feeling whole, along the way.