Postpartum depression is traditionally thought to affect exclusively moms as they are the ones who go through the most significant changes in their bodies and their psyches. However, it is common among dads too. In fact, a recent study published in the August 2006 issue of the journal Pediatrics, reports that about ten percent of all fathers in the U. S. are affected by postpartum depression.
Symptoms of postpartum depression in dads may include:
- Strong feelings of emptiness or sadness
- Tendency to withdraw from others such as family and friends
- Feelings of failure
- Suicidal thoughts
Dads who suffer from postpartum depression:
- Exhibit reduced positive interaction with their babies.
- Are less likely to read stories, talk, or sing to their babies.
Additionally, babies whose parents both suffer from depression are:
- Fussier and less well-socialized
- Less likely to be put on their backs to sleep—this is important as it helps prevent the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Less likely to be breastfed.
- More likely to be put in bed with a bottle—a practice linked with tooth decay and ear infection.
Possible reasons for postpartum depression among dads include:
- Increased responsibilities
- Financial worries
- Feelings of entrapment
- Loss of freedom
Dads can avoid postpartum depression by:
- Watching for symptoms that signal depression such as increasing irritability or hostility.
- Discussing their problems with a doctor or a counselor who can deliver diagnosis and treatment for the same.
- Sharing their feelings with their spouses.