New dads get sad, too: Raise PPPD awareness.
Did you know that new dads can suffer from depression, too? It’s called paternal postpartum depression (PPPD) (though it can occur prenatally, as well). In honor of Father’s Day and International Father’s Mental Health Day tomorrow, your #DailyRevolution is to spread awareness about the difficulties men can experience while transitioning to fatherhood. Today, take some time to talk about the phenomenon of paternal postpartum depression and offer your support to a new father. This can be as easy as a simple question to the expecting or new father: “How are you doing?”
Our society often focuses on mothers’ mental health during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth (with good reason: 1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum depression but only 15% receive adequate treatment), but we are socialized to expect new dads to be strong and stoic, to be pillars of support. Turns out, new fathers also need support of their own: according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, “about 10 percent of men have prenatal and postpartum depression.”
Some of the signs of paternal prenatal or postpartum depression are sadness, anxiety, anger, irritability, and withdrawal. According to psychotherapist Will Courtenay, Ph.D.,, "Half of all men whose partners have postpartum depression are depressed themselves. Depression in both parents can result in devastating consequences for their relationship and especially for their children.”
However, in large part due to societal constructions of masculinity, the stigma is even higher for men than women to admit these feelings, and to ask for help. So they don’t.
Luckily, there has been increased awareness and dialogue around this problem in recent years. One example is the launch of International Fathers’ Mental Health Day (IFMHD) on June 19, 2016, an annual global event that shines a spotlight on fathers’ mental health.
There are also organizations like Postpartum Support International (PSI) that take a “whole-family, father-inclusive approach” and offer resources and tools to new dads and their partners and community members. PSI offers a hotline on the first Monday of every month for a free phone call with one of their experts in pregnancy and postpartum mental health and family support. They also have a list of resources and tips for new dads and their partners on their site.
So what actions can you take around this issue? Read on for some ideas for today’s #DailyRevolution:*
1. Ask a new father how he is doing. If he’s struggling, let him know he’s not alone. Refer him to www.postpartum.net for resources, or remind him there’s no shame in talking to a professional to discuss possible treatment.
2. Help spread awareness about paternal postpartum depression. Talk about it in your social circles, and post about it on social media with hashtag #dadsMHday. If you know an expecting or new dad, share our post with him.
3. Help reduce stigma around this issue. You can achieve this by speaking to men about it directly, or by helping to normalize the issue via social media dialogue and making yourself available for support.