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Postpartum depression, depression that occurs several months and up to a year after a child is born, doesn’t only affect mothers. The changes and struggles that a birth of a child can bring are things fathers can struggle with as well.
A 2010 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that 10 percent of men has prenatal or postpartum depression. This number is more than double the rate of men who suffer from depression in the general population – 4.8 percent.
As with women, it is important to detect the symptoms of depression in men so they can get the proper help, treatment and support.
Common symptoms of general depression include a low mood, loss of interest in activities, fatigue, changes in sleep, changes in appetite or weight, difficulty concentrating, feelings of guilt or worthlessness and thoughts of suicide.
But research shows men with postpartum depression can struggle with irritability, detachment and emotional withdrawal as well. If fathers are experiencing these symptoms, they should seek help and treatment. Depression can affect the way dads interact with their children. Their irritability, emotional detachment and withdrawal can be transferred over to their children and affect how they understand and learn to regulate their own emotions.
There are several strategies fathers, both new and not new can implement to beat postpartum depression and better manage their feelings as they cope through fatherhood.
It can be helpful to remember the reasons why you decided to become a father in the first place. Thinking about seeing your child smile for the first time, or seeing their first steps or hearing their first words can help put in perspective the struggles’ rewards. Consider writing down these benefits and reading them to yourself when you are going through a tough time.
Being able to tell someone else about how you are feeling can make all the difference. Whether it is just to vent to someone else about a particularly stressful day or your overall feelings, knowing that someone is there to listen is helpful. Think about whom you can reach out to. Just like there are support groups for new mothers, there are also groups for new fathers.
Alleviating depression symptoms can easily come from just getting more sleep. One study found that sleep reduces maternal postpartum depression and can help fathers as well. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time, avoid caffeine after 4 p.m., avoid working out before bed and try napping when your child does too. Napping for up to 30 minutes can even boost energy and alertness. Make sure your naps do not interfere with nighttime sleep.
Becoming a parent for the first time can cause anxiety and depression. Consider concentrating on how to become a better parent by boosting your skills. You can read parenting books or attend classes or even ask advice from other fathers who you look up to for advice.
While postpartum depression is most associated with women, it can take a toll on fathers as well. Fathers are critical in their kids’ development and play an important part in the raising of children. If you are feeling any depression symptoms, consider seeking treatment or support. Dads’ feelings are important not just in their own well-being but in a child’s well-being as well.
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