Men Get Postpartum Depression Too

Postpartum depression (PPD) in general is under-diagnosed and under served, but women at least have the Edinburg Postnatal Depression Scale to measure postpartum depression. Dads are deprived of even a scoring system.  For men, at best we have the scoring systems designed for women applied to men. At the present time, evaluation of men for postpartum depression has been done using female scoring systems.

While postpartum depression for moms is fast on and fast off, postpartum depression for dads comes on later, about a month after birth, and lasts longer, about a year. In dads, the onset is more insidious.

The characteristics of postpartum depression for dads and moms are similar:

  1. depressed or sad mood
  2. marked loss of interest in all activities
  3. large weight loss or gin
  4. insomnia or hypersomnia
  5. psychomotor agitation or retardation
  6. fatigue or loss of energy
  7. feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  8. diminished ability to think or concentrate
  9. recurrent thoughts of death

For years women have scored higher and more frequently than men on measures of postpartum depression, but we are now understanding that men don’t answer the basic questions the way women do. As young boys, men are taught not to cry and not to admit to having pain.

The prevalence of postpartum depression in men is 1.2 to 25.5 percent. Symptoms include low mood and irritability. In men, there is a high comorbidity with anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). There is also high comorbidity the mother has postpartum depression. Factors contributing to postpartum depression can be biological or related to surroundings:

  • Biological Factors:
    1. testosterone
    2. estrogen
    3. cortisol
    4. vasopressin
    5. prolactin
  • Factors Related to Surroundings:
    1. life style change
    2. failure to attach to baby
    3. lack of a good role model and reward
    4. lack of social support network
    5. feeling excluded from the mother/infant bonding
    6. maternal postpartum depression

Postpartum depression in a father can contribute to a sons’ emotional and behavioral problems at later ages, especially for boys. PPD disturbs the secure attachment with fathers, increases conflicts in marital relationships, and make mothers more vulnerable to depression. Possible treatments for postpartum depression in men include treatment by professionals, support from partners, educational programs for parenting, and a policy for paid paternal leave.