The birth of a child transforms the lives of all parents and adjusting to parenting, whether for the first or subsequent child, is an exciting and joyful moment. In the early stages of parenthood, however, there are numerous problems that can place additional strain on relationships, and sometimes unanticipated feelings might emerge. Depression following childbirth is more prevalent than one might assume. When discussing postpartum depression, we tend to focus on the mother. However, data indicates that roughly one in ten males struggle with their mental health during the early years of parenthood. Numerous occurrences of postpartum depression in men go unreported, thus the actual number is likely far higher. Men suffer in silence far too frequently; some estimates place the rate of postpartum depression in men closer to one- fourth! There is an abundance of studies on the causes and effects of postpartum depression in women, but significantly fewer in men. This blog discusses the effects of childbirth on men's mental health.

What do You Mean by Baby Blues?

In the weeks following childbirth, postpartum depression is common among moms. Following delivery, hormone levels of oestradiol, progesterone, and prolactin decline significantly. These abrupt hormonal and metabolic changes in the body create minor depressive symptoms and a depressed mood. These mild depression symptoms are often referred to as the "baby blues." Typically, symptoms appear two to three days after childbirth, peak in the days that follow, and lessen and resolve within two weeks of beginning. The symptoms of bipolar disorder include melancholy, crying, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, sleeplessness, inability to concentrate, sensitivity, and mood swings.

What is Postpartum Depression and May Males be Affected?

Baby blues are self-limiting, have a direct physical basis, and have minimal symptoms. Post-natal depression is a condition in which moms endure a prolonged and severe depressive state. It is characterised by a continuous depressed mood that is more severe than feeling a bit down. Fathers and partners can also experience postpartum depression (also known as postpartum depression (PPD) or paternal sadness). Depression following the birth of a child can be caused by a mix of circumstances, with symptoms ranging from mild and brief to severe and long-lasting. In extreme circumstances, a person may feel unable to care for themselves or their child and may even experience psychotic episodes. Although postpartum psychosis in men is relatively uncommon, it is possible. Postpartum depression can begin at any time within the first year after the birth of a child, but its prevalence is highest between 3 and 6 months. Men acquire PPD more slowly and gradually over the course of a year following childbirth, which may explain why this ailment is under-reported in men.

What Factors Contribute to Postpartum Depression in Men?

Numerous research explores postpartum depression (PPD) in women, however far less is known about the illness in men. Doctor's surveys and postpartum care typically centre on the mother's health. Increased parents' emotional and mental health can be negatively affected by sleep loss, new responsibilities, and a lack of "me time." The reasons fathers or partners may experience postpartum depression are frequently the same as those of the mother. These consist of:

  • PNegative obstetrical experience
  • absence of sleep (a disrupted circadian rhythm)
  • An overwhelming sense of obligation
  • Difficulty forming a link with the infant Substantial adjustments to routines and lifestyle
  • Relationship pressures and financial strains
  • The reappearance of childhood trauma

In addition, there are other causes exclusive to guys. If his girlfriend is suffering from postpartum depression, he is more likely to experience depressive symptoms. Studies indicate that approximately fifty percent of males whose spouses are diagnosed with postpartum depression develop depression themselves. Additionally, the research identifies a history of depression, marital strife, and unexpected pregnancy as potential causes of postpartum depression in men. Surprisingly, men and women alike have hormonal shifts after childbirth. According to Kim and Swain, a father may suffer hormonal shifts during pregnancy and for several months after the delivery of a child. According to research, new fathers have a rise in oestrogen, oxytocin, prolactin, and glucocorticoids.

What Risk Factors are Associated with Postpartum Depression in Men?

There are various risk factors that can increase the likelihood of paternal postpartum depression. Lack of a social support network, difficulty adapting to a change in lifestyle, alterations in the marital/partner connection, and feeling excluded from the mother-baby bonding can all induce depressive episodes. Men who hold influential positions in the workplace may experience emotions of inadequacy as new fathers. A traumatic birth experience can also cause males to develop anxiety and mental health issues. In certain instances, this results in post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A man may feel despair when childbirth does not go as planned. Even in simple circumstances of childbirth, witnessing your spouse in agony can make you feel powerless, especially if it is something you cannot 'fix.' Also noted is the significant comorbidity of postpartum paternal depression with other mental diseases, namely anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). One research of 356 fathers revealed that pre-existing anxiety issues raised the risk of developing postpartum depression by 30 to 100 percent.

The Influence of the Father's Depression on the Child

Similarly, to moms, depression in fathers can have a substantial effect on the child (or children). A rising body of evidence indicates that parental depression is a substantial risk factor for a child's future troubles. A depressed parent is less sensitive to their child and may engage in inappropriate parenting habits, such as neglect or overprotection. Parenting can oscillate between two extremes: neglect, followed by excessive involvement due to feelings of guilt. A lack of sensitivity to a child's cues exists. According to a study of 22,000 children from two-parent households, a father's depression increases a child's likelihood of developing emotional issues.

Prepared by: Mr. Denny Prasad, Psychologist
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