Can males get postpartum depression

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Postpartum depression in men: why it occurs and how to deal with it

Despite the fact that only women are diagnosed with postpartum depression, men are also characterized by longing, apathy, and anxiety after the birth of children. We talked about this with a young father, and also discussed the topic with clinical and social psychologists - we found out how depression can manifest itself in fathers and why this problem is so rarely talked about.

“When I found out that my wife was pregnant, I wept with joy. I wanted nothing more than to be a father. But sometimes our dreams do not match our expectations. When my wife first handed over our daughter Isabelle to me, I looked at this weak, swollen child and did not know what to do - I did not even want to hold her. I didn't feel anything. I expected a rush of emotions that parents and the media talk about so much, but there was none. Only emptiness. It seemed to me that it was caused by lack of sleep and the chaos associated with the birth of a child, but when a few days later I still did not feel anything, I realized that something was wrong. The numbness turned into indignation and hostility. Isabelle was constantly crying with me and wanted to be with her mother. I felt jealous: my daughter took all the time and attention of my wife, which, no matter how selfish it may sound, she used to give me. nine0003

I even began to regret the birth of my daughter, which led to feelings of guilt. It was hard, but I told my wife about my experiences. Because I felt like I hated my own daughter.

At first I wanted to leave my family — it sincerely seemed that they would be better off without me. On my anniversary, I even wrote a letter to my wife about it. It was painful for her to watch how I did not want to be the father of the daughter I dreamed of, and it was painful for me to feel this.

This is how a British postman named Ross Hunt remembers the first months of fatherhood - for several years now he has been talking on his blog about the postpartum depression he faced. nine0003

Despite the fact that there is no official diagnosis of "postpartum depression in men", manifestations of this phenomenon are common. According to statistics, approximately 10% of fathers suffer from this disorder. However, it is much more difficult to establish the exact number of depressive episodes in men after the birth of a child than in women.

Men are less likely to talk about their emotions, even if they think something is going wrong everything that is stereotypically perceived as "feminine". Talking about feelings falls under this category. Traditional masculinity "allows" men to show only certain emotions (for example, aggression) and "forbids" others (empathy, kindness): "According to traditional masculinity, a man should cope with problems on his own. If you can’t deal with depression (which, by the way, is often perceived as “just a bad mood”), then what kind of man are you? nine0003

A man may not uphold the norms of traditional masculinity, but if he thinks that those around him approve of him, then he will adhere to these requirements. Moreover, sociological studies show that men, in principle, are less likely than women to turn to specialists if they have health problems - physical or mental. And they do not always speak honestly about their condition because of embarrassment or fear of changing their lifestyle on the advice of a doctor.

Vlad Krivoshchekov notes that the field of health in Russia is, in principle, very feminized: in heterosexual families, women are more often responsible for the health of all family members, and most of the advertising about medicines and doctors is addressed to mothers. As a result, many men have a poorly developed skill of contacting doctors for help. Often men go to the clinic only when their wives, mothers or sisters send them there. nine0003

How does postpartum depression manifest itself in men

Postpartum depression can manifest itself in completely different ways and affect both a person’s emotions and his physical condition. The father may experience depression, apathy, guilt, jealousy. He is characterized by manifestations of aggression. He can move away from the family and behave irrationally, get annoyed for any reason. A man with postpartum depression, says clinical psychologist Anastasia Tretyakova, does everything mechanically. He loses the initiative to do something. He wants to isolate himself from society, withdraws into himself, does not joke, does not go anywhere, does not think logically, does not show empathy. It is difficult for him to accept the point of view of another person. A person with a psychological disorder loses appetite, sleep problems appear, and libido decreases.

Causes of postpartum depression in men

Causes of postpartum depression in men are very similar to factors of depression in women. Firstly, after the birth of a child, men can also change their hormonal levels. Modern research claims that new fathers, for example, have reduced testosterone levels. nine0003

Robin Edelstein, psychologist and director of the Personality, Relationships, and Hormones Laboratory at the University of Michigan, says these changes have a positive effect on the development of empathy and attachment to children: men with lower testosterone levels devote more time to children and family.

The second possible reason is additional responsibility and stress. “It can be difficult for men to cope with the burden of responsibility that they have placed on themselves. From now on, they have to work much more and earn more - this causes lack of sleep and chronic fatigue, ”says Anastasia Tretyakova. nine0003

Piotr, 37 :

“When our daughter was born, I was incredibly happy. I remember that I just jokingly thought: "Goodbye, that's it!" In fact, after that day, I almost completely said goodbye to music, writing and everything except work and home. There was almost never more time for this, no matter how I tried to find it. After the birth of the child, my wife and I began to sleep little. Our daughter was restless, often waking up and screaming. We rocked her for hours. Sometimes she would not stop yelling from morning to evening. Life was chaos, we literally survived. I worked in fits and starts when I could: during daytime sleep or walks with a stroller, at night in between awakenings from colic. Credit obligations began to put more pressure on my brain: my thoughts were only occupied by the question of how to provide for my family. Due to lack of sleep, I did everything automatically, not really thinking about how I felt. Apparently, this was my way of dealing with emotions - not connecting them. No one helped me deal with stress. It was I who had to help my wife and fight with my mother-in-law, who constantly prevented me from taking care of my daughter. There were no other options. I realized that I did not have the option to say that I could not carry a screaming child at night - who then could? There was no option not to make money. The concept of “tired” basically ceased to exist for me.” nine0003

How to distinguish depression from a depressive episode?

Full-blown depression differs from a depressive episode in duration and intensity. If the episode is repeated several times, it is worth thinking about the external causes of the disorder and ways to eliminate them. If the state of depression, apathy and irritation lasts for more than a month, this may be a sign of depression. When experiences last from three to six months, this is a serious reason to turn to a specialist - a psychotherapist or clinical psychologist. If necessary, he will refer the patient to another doctor - a neurologist or an endocrinologist. nine0003

Stigmatization of the problem and its consequences

According to WHO statistics, Russia has been leading the international ranking of male suicide for several years. Vlad Krivoshchekov is sure that this is a natural consequence of the stigmatization of depression and the hushing up of mental problems: “If a person does not have any mechanisms to demonstrate that he is not in order, except through his body, then sooner or later he may resort to this. The good news is that well-chosen psychotherapy and timely seeking help really help to cope with negative emotions. nine0003

Hooray! Now we have another Instagram: Chalk from 0 to 6. If your child is still a preschooler, you have been dreaming of a good sleep for a long time and google everything about breastfeeding, vaccinations and overalls - subscribe, we have a lot of interesting things!

Do men have postpartum depression?

It turns out that every tenth young father faces this problem.

Vera Ermakova





How to get out of depression

Pregnancy and childbirth


Not only young mothers complain of depression after childbirth, new fathers can also have such an unpleasant condition. Let's figure out what to do with it.

Contents of the article

According to the most optimistic estimates, one in five new mothers experience postpartum depression. What about young fathers? Until recently, it was believed that since the male body does not undergo any hormonal changes, there is nowhere to come from depression. But several studies refute this assumption, and experts warn that up to 10% of men become victims of postnatal depression. We tell you why this happens and how not to miss a dangerous disease in yourself. nine0003

Is testosterone to blame?

149 couples took part in the study, published in Hormones and Behavior. Researchers followed the condition of men and women for 15 months after the birth of their children. As a result, every tenth man who participated in the experiment complained of certain symptoms of depression. These figures are twice as high as the prevalence of ordinary depression in men, which usually only one in twenty complains. However, researchers are sure that in fact, many more men experience symptoms of depression, including postpartum depression, just because of the peculiarities of socialization that prohibits the stronger sex from showing weakness, many find it impossible to recognize the existence of such an “unmanly” problem. nine0003

Why do men develop postpartum depression? The authors of the study believe that the cause may be a decrease in testosterone levels. The increased stress and lack of sleep that most new parents face negatively affects the levels of this important male hormone. Another lowering factor is the hormone oxytocin, which is overproduced when a parent, male or female, takes care of and communicates with an infant. Oxytocin is a kind of natural testosterone neutralizer, if its level is increased, then the content of the “aggression hormone” drops sharply. nine0003

However, the authors of another study published in 2016 believe that the cause of depression may be associated not with biological, but with social factors. After the birth of a child, life changes radically, the workload increases dramatically, the usual joys and ways to have fun become inaccessible - temporarily or permanently, and finally, a sharply increased level of responsibility also becomes an additional stress factor. If you add to this lack of sleep and increased physical activity, then one can only wonder why depression gets only to every tenth young father. nine0003

However, the authors of both studies cited believe that in fact the prevalence of the disease is much higher, just not all men who have recently become parents are ready to admit that they have a problem.

How to recognize postpartum depression in men?

If you recently became a dad, it's worth checking your postpartum depression checklist from time to time - even if neither you nor your loved ones notice any warning signs. Depression is an insidious disease that can masquerade as fatigue or overwork or “just” a bad mood for a long time. If you have experienced at least half of these symptoms more than five times in the past two weeks, you may need to seek help:

  • increased irritability and conflict, especially in situations that were previously perceived calmly;
  • constant voltage;
  • aggressive behavior, which in extreme cases is expressed in physical violence;
  • avoidance of family and friends, social isolation;
  • depression, melancholy, feeling of loneliness;
  • pain of various origins, problems with the gastrointestinal tract;
  • decreased concentration, distraction, forgetfulness; nine0098
  • decreased motivation, unwillingness to do what used to bring pleasure, loss of interest in hobbies;
  • a man prefers to spend most of the day at work, thereby being less at home;
  • fatigue, fatigue.

How to treat postpartum depression in men?

Depression is a dangerous disease that, in severe cases, can end in death, so the worst thing you can do when you discover its symptoms is to wait for the disease to go away on its own.

Learn more