Many people are familiar with postpartum depression in women but postpartum depression in men is hardly ever talked about. A new baby is a wonderful blessing but the demands of parenthood are very stressful and can be overwhelming to both parents. Mothers and fathers share many of the same stresses.
According to one of the few studies in the area of paternal depression, in general, 14% of American men develop depression either during their partner’s pregnancy or during the first year postpartum. About 8% of fathers in other countries develop paternal depression. The problem seems to heighten when babies are 3 to 6 months old. During this time, 25% of new fathers and 42% of mothers report depression. If a mother experiences postpartum depression, the father is at much greater risk of experiencing depression as well.
Sleep deprivation is a strong contributor to depression. Research shows that any healthy adult that goes without good sleep for a month, is at increased risk for experiencing depression. In addition, the hormonal changes that occur after childbirth can cause depression in both women and men. Women experience a sharp decline in progesterone and estrogen but men also experience a decline in testosterone.
Unfortunately, fathers experiencing depression are less likely to seek help then mothers. Mainly because, in general, men avoid treatment for mental health. Also men experiencing depression often have symptoms that are unique from women. Some of the symptoms of depression in men may include:
Increased anger and conflict with others
Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
Frustration or irritability
Losing weight without trying
Isolation from family and friends
Being easily stressed
Impulsiveness and taking risks, like reckless driving and extramarital sex
Increases in complaints about physical problems
Ongoing physical symptoms, like headaches, digestion problems or pain
Problems with concentration and motivation
Loss of interest in work, hobbies and sex
Frustration or irritability
Misuse of prescription medication
Increased concerns about productivity and functioning at school or work
Experiencing conflict between how you think you should be as a man and how you actually are
Thoughts of suicide
Some men may only experience a few symptoms and others may experience many. What ever the case, it is important to know that the symptoms are treatable and help is available.
Jennifer has unique insight into mental health as a recovered mom herself. She overcame postpartum psychosis, a life threatening mental illness, which she was struck with when her son was eight weeks old. She has focused her efforts on being a mental health advocate in the area of perinatal mental health in order to help others experiencing mental illness related to childbearing. She strives to increase awareness, education and support of mental health issues related to childbearing. She also focuses on increasing awareness, education and support of mental health issues, in general.
As a Volunteer Area Coordinator for Postpartum Support International, Jennifer has provided emotional, practical and informational support to mothers and families experiencing mental illnesses related to childbearing. Postpartum Support International (PSI) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1987 with the mission to increase awareness, prevention and treatment of mental health issues related to childbearing. Jennifer also has experience as a postpartum support and education consultant, a certified postpartum doula and a speaker on mental health issues.
Jennifer has various media experience including her personal story being published in the February 2002 issue of Glamour Magazine resulting in a guest appearance on CNN’s The Point. She was also interviewed for an article appearing in the December 2002 issue of Psychology Today. Jennifer is a member of the National Perinatal Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America, The Marcé Society, the National Association of Mothers’ Centers and Postpartum Support International. Jennifer is also a member of the International Association for Women’s Mental Health.
Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and has over ten years of professional experience primarily within the healthcare industry.