Moms aren’t the only ones subject to the “baby blues.” As many as 10% of fathers experience postpartum depression, too. This is more likely to happen when the mother is depressed, putting the baby at greater risk of future emotional, behavior and developmental problems.
Researchers from Eastern Virginia Medical School reviewed information from 43 studies involving more than 28,000 men. They found that 10.4% experienced depression either before or just after their babies were born. (In the general population, experts estimate that about 5% of men experience depression.) They were most likely to be depressed when their child was 3-6 months old. Signs of depression include:
• Sad or depressed mood
• Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
• Sleep problems
• Loss of appetite
Experts stress that paternal postpartum depression can and should be treated, but that it is often difficult to convince men to seek help. One great resource is the Postpartum Dads Project. Created by postpartum depression survivors, it contains a blog, resource guide and other info dedicated to supporting fathers who are either coping with their partners’ Postpartum Mood Disorders or their own Paternal Postnatal Depression. It features stories from postpartum depression survivors, and a chance to share your own. Visit them at http://postpartumdadsproject.org.
Christina Elston is a senior editor and health writer for Dominion Parenting Media.
Updated June 2010