June 21, 2005

Down With Male PPD: Do You Know Me?

A DT reader and new dad writes in with the following:

Over the last few days I have to my surprise/chagrin/horror sunk into a depression and I was wondering if you had ever heard of other men experiencing what is traditionally considered a moms-only phenomenon (PPD) [aka postpartum depression]? Do you know of any resources, support groups, or plain old solid anecdotes for a dad with this problem?
A look through the scientific literature shows that the incidence, causes and treatments of paternal depression have only been considered very recently. [There's really only one major survey from 2004, and it finds that "the incidence of paternal depression ranged from 1.2% to 25.5% in community samples, and from 24% to 50% among men whose partners were experiencing postpartum depression." Sounds like a real enough and significant enough problem to me, but so far, I've found very little else online, either.

Anyone want to help a brother out? [And Tom Cruise, if you're reading this, don't worry; we already know about The Vitamins, thanks. Don't want to take you away from your busy public makeout schedule.]

Goodman, JH "Paternal postpartum depression, its relationship to maternal postpartum depression, and implications for family health.", J Adv Nurs. 2004 Jan. [nih.gov, abstract only]

13 Comments

Don't mess around with depression. Talk to a doctor. Period.

I'm surprised PPD rates aren't higher, considering the massive life change that a child represents. (A great joy to be sure, but you also magnify the stresses in your life amid sleep deprivation.) While you might not have hormonal and other changes related to giving birth, you have ample life changes that can cause depression. You need a professional assessment and assistance pronto.

Er. I should have said: Talk to YOUR doctor. He/she will recommend/refer you to an appropriate medical specialist. Don't go flipping through the phone book.

Er. I should have said: Talk to your GENERAL PRACTICE (family) doctor. Don't go asking your dentist, chiropractor or Mr. Snerdly down the street who has a Ph.D in astrophysics.

Er. AJ, I think it's safe to say that when someone tells you to "talk to a doctor" that the first doctor to come to mind will be 'your' primary care physician.

Er. Also, I don't think anyone needed to be told that, when it comes to ones mental health, that a dentist, chiropracter, or a prof. in astrophysics is probably not your first choice.

I have a 6 month old son. For the first 6 weeks, I went thru horrible depression/anxiety, to the point of barely functioning. Fine now, after visits to Dr.'s and medication. If you want to talk about it, drop me an e-mail. It's horrible, but know it's not permanent.

Er. I should have used [/joke] so as to not confuse literally-minded folks.

But seriously, there are people who would grab the phone book instead of getting a professional referral.

Hi, I have been reading the past few days and wanted to say hello. Your blog cracks me up!

[um, do you mean "cracks you up" haha? or "cracks you up" postpartum depression? -ed.]

I have a 6month old son, my wife suffered PPD and I got a little bit myself. What helped? GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!!! It doesn't matter what you do, nothing will help you more in the long run than getting out and doing other things. A new child is a wonderful joy, but you also need time to yourself. It may be a little nerve racking with a baby so young and new but, get a baby sitter( grand parents are great for this!) and go out to dinner with your wife. She needs the time too. Luckily its summer and you can take the baby out for a walk. You should aim to get a few hours a week to yourself and about as many with your wife.

All men get PPD. (I personnally suspect it has little to do with the child and more to do with unreasonable Moms). The cure is in your local Irish pub. Works wonders. There is also usually a pre-assembled support group waiting for you.

I have to admit for the first few days I was a bit of a nervous wreck. I really couldn't say it was depression as much as just exhaustion and learning how to handle a baby.

I would say our most nervous experience was our first trip into Munich with the boy. It took us over an hour and a half just to get out of the house.

My wife went through a bit of Postpartum and that worried me quite abit.

Mike, it's men like you who cause depression in their "unreasonable wives." I'm sure the boys at the bar are happy to have your company.

I still have occasional bouts of depression linked to being SAHD (Stay at Home Dad). Getting out on your own, or with friends definitely does do the trick. Also, get however much sleep your body and mind demand, eat well, and exercise.

Today, it took me FOREVER to get all of my daughter's things together but I finally got them all packed into a backpack, harnessed up, popped her into the jogger and went for a 10km run. She enjoyed being out and I worked so hard that I didn't have time to be depressed.

Since I've been back, I've gained a bit of tan, I'm feeling energized, and I know by bedtime tonight I'll be out like a light.

No drugs required.

Personally, if I ever felt serious stress or depression, an astrophysicist is the first person I'd talk to, but only because I'm married to one.

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