Postpartum depression doesn't happen only to moms, it can also affect dads, and there's a lot more to it than you might think.
Commonly associated with mothers, a new study has shown that postpartum depression can happen to dads too, and there's a lot more to it than what you might initially think.
Postpartum depression usually goes undiagnosed in men
According to a study out of Northwestern University that examined over 10,000 men during a span of 23 years, symptoms of depression for all fathers in the study increased by about 68% in the first 5 years after their child was born.
Dr. Craig Garfield shares, "Dads have doubled the amount of time they spend in childcare from 1965 to 2011, if we know that dads who are depressed are more likely to use physical punishment and less likely to read to their kids, this has an effect on the child as well…Dads are key players. They have contributions to make, and they can be positive or negative contributions."
Postpartum depression also usually goes undiagnosed in men, since traditionally, men are less inclined to ask for help or share their problems such as being irritable, fatigue, sadness, or feelings of worthlessness, all of which have been linked to depression. Which is why it's also important for fathers to be more in touch with their feelings, as postpartum depression is a serious matter.
Why are dads affected?
Postpartum depression happens to mothers because of a number of various factors. Among these would be having expectations from the child, family, or friends. When these expectations are not fulfilled, or when having a baby is totally different from what their initial expectations are, then that's when postpartum depression might strike.
It also affects fathers since dads also have the same expectations about having a kid. Thus, when these expectations are vastly different from reality, that's when problems start to happen.
Sometimes, postpartum depression happens when they feel that their experience is no longer validated, as everything usually feels new and exciting right before giving birth, but once the baby is born, there are a lot more responsibilities that parents would have to manage.
What can parents do about their depression?
Aside from seeking professional help or taking medication, there are a number of things that you can do in order to help deal with postpartum depression.
- Avoid scary things. If you're a fan of horror movies, then you might want to stop watching those for a while since the stress might cause anxiety, or you might feel much more scared and unsure about what's happening.
- Take some time to relax. Have a full body massage, treat yourself to a spa, or just have a nice quiet meal with your family at home so that you can calm yourself down and relax. This helps ease any negative thoughts and makes you feel more positive about your life.
- Clear your mind. Meditation, yoga, and similar activities can do a lot to help ease your worries. Practicing mindfulness also helps you get in control of your emotions and helps you find stability in your life.
- Surround yourself with a good support group. Talking to people about your depression helps a lot in dealing with it. Surround yourself with friends or relatives who are non-judgmental and are willing to listen to your problems. Sharing your worries with other people helps get things off your chest and would make you feel a whole lot better.
- Keep yourself busy. Keeping yourself busy with household chores, caring for your baby, or work can help keep your mind off things that make you worried. Having a daily routine that you stick to gives you a sense of structure in your life, and also helps you get back in control.
- Avoid self-diagnosing. With the advent of the internet and social media, a lot of people have a habit of self-diagnosing themselves, especially when it comes to mental illnesses. If you feel that you might be suffering form postpartum depression, then it's best to talk to a doctor about it as they can surely help you devise a plan of action in order to address your concerns.
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