Monday, May 26, 2014

Paternal Postnatal Depression

I have discussed with y’all Postpartum Depression and how pregnant moms can experience this or other postpartum disorders; but, what about dad?  Since the baby’s father was not physically pregnant, can he experience Postpartum Depression?
The answer is yes!  Just as you, your partner can experience the baby blues, Postpartum Depression, and other postpartum disorders.  This is called Paternal Postnatal Depression.

What is Paternal Postnatal Depression?
Paternal Postnatal Depression is a severe depression in the weeks after bringing your new baby home from the hospital.  We often forget about daddy because physically there really is not change.  Dads are not physically pregnant and we do forget that there are hormonal changes happening for the men as well as us.  Along with any hormonal changes, some dads struggle with the reality of parenthood just as we might.  Let’s face wonderful and joyous as being a parent is incredibly scary.  For some men, these fears and responsibilities can be too overwhelming.

What are the signs and symptoms of Paternal Postnatal Depression?
The signs and symptoms of Paternal Postnatal Depression may vary man to man.  The signs and symptoms look different for that of Postpartum Depression.  You definitely may see some similar symptoms but there are a few differences.

You may see your partner struggle with:

  • Irritability
  • Isolation and withdrawal from relationships
  • Working more or less as means to distract
  • Low Energy
  • Fatigue
  • Low motivation
  • Unable to focus
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Substance abuse (alcohol, pills...etc)
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Stomach (G.I) issues
  • Anger outbursts
  • Violent Behavior
  • Suicidal Thoughts

What causes Paternal Postnatal Depression?
There are a number of reasons your partner may be experiencing Paternal Postnatal Depression.

Sleep deprivation -- As any new parents knows, when you bring that baby home, even with an amazing baby who sleeps through the night, you no longer will.  Sleep has now become a privilege for you.  It is seriously underestimated how sleep can effect and exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Adjustment to Parenthood --As I said before, most amazing, incredible, yet terrifying thing in your life, and your life will be changed forever.  Being a parent takes so much compromise and adjustment for you and your partner.  It can be overwhelming, which is totally normal.

Family History of Depression -- As with any medical issue, with a personal or family history, you are already at higher risk.

Hormones -- There have been studies that have shown, just because daddy isn’t physically pregnant, does not mean his internal is not going through changes.  These studies have shown that dad’s hormone levels change just as mom’s do.  Testosterone decreases and estrogen increases.  Lower testosterone in men is associated with depression.  

A Depressed Momma -- If your partner is depressed and you feel helpless it can often bring you down in the dumps as well.

Relationship Stress -- Let’s not sugar coat...relationships are hard! When you add in factors like...a baby, where you are not sleeping, now you are forced to make these decisions together that you never had to before, yes it make it even more difficult.  Having a baby does put stress on a relationship because now you have added in so many factors to your relationship that were not there before; finances are now increased, sleep is now decreased, communication will be more difficult because you will be so busy, these factors all can add stress to a relationship.

Not feeling included with your baby and/or partner -- Your partner wants to be included in all the experience; however, because they did not undergo the physical as you did, it can make your partner feel like an outsider.  Moms don’t always realize that they are excluding their partner from being a part of their baby.  I am guilty of this myself.  I used to think I was just helping my husband by doing everything because he worked and I didn’t want him to feel like he worked all day, then came home and worked more.  This was a big mistake and I am glad we dealt with it early on.  Taking care of your baby is not work for your partner.  Let him in on things, changing diapers, feeding, all the fun things that go by all too quick.

There are so many other factors that take part in Paternal Postnatal Depression.  If your family is under financial stress or your family has recently dealt with a loss or disaster, this can also lead to exacerbating the depression.

How is Paternal Postnatal Depression dealt with?
As we all know...admitting things can be difficult for men.  It is hard for anyone to face that there may be an issue.  The reality is, it is sometimes hard for a person to see for themselves that there is an issue.  Paternal Postpartum Depression is not as known about.  It is more common than you may think, but there is not much discussion out there on the subject.  There are a few things you can do to help in dealing with Paternal Postnatal Depression.

Come to terms with the issue.  As I said before, in general people don’t always recognize there is a problem, it may take an outsider to notice.  Once you and your partner are on the same page about the issue, you can move forward in dealing with it.

Surround yourself with positive support.  Letting your family and friends know what is going on will be beneficial for you.

Sleep!  You will need sleep in order to function and communicate properly with your partner.  You and your partner should work out some kind of schedule to be sure each of you get a nap in.

Communicate with your partner about being involved with the baby.  If your partner is breastfeeding, talk to her about expressing milk so you could feed the baby a bottle once a day.  Help with tubby time.  Get a routine with your baby.  Maybe at night you rock with the baby and read him or her a story.

Go on a date! You need alone time.  At first it will be difficult, but do your best to get yourselves out of the house together.  Even if you just take a quick walk, anything will help.  Try to talk about fun things that don’t pertain to baby, finances, or anything super stressful.  

Be patient with your relationship.  Sex is the most common downfall for couples post baby. Be patient and considerate of your partner.  It  will get better, but be patient and communicate about it.

Talk to your healthcare provider.  We are so lucky that there is so much help offered now.  There are so many options for you if you may be struggling.  It it also a good ideal to try out Couples Therapy, especially if both of you are depressed or you feel the depression is really weighing on the relationship.

No comments:

Post a Comment