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Postpartum Depression: It Can Happen to Fathers Too

Thursday, July 07, 2016 7:00 AM

After a baby is born, so much change can happen in such a short amount of time. It is an emotional journey and it can be overwhelming now and then. During this time, up to 20% of women may experience postpartum depression (also known as perinatal depression). What we do not hear about as often is that postpartum depression affects men too. It is nothing to be embarrassed about, but something that should be recognized and treated.


According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 10% of men showed signs of perinatal depression starting as early as the first trimester of their partner’s pregnancy and up to six months after the baby was born. Up to half of men whose partners experience postpartum depression become depressed themselves. 

Postpartum depression is different than the “baby blues.” The baby blues involves transient, temporary mood changes in response to the rapid hormonal shifts of the immediate postpartum period. A good workout, a little extra sleep or getting the time to do a favorite activity can usually lighten the mood in baby blues. If symptoms of the baby blues get worse, are present more often than not or last more than a few weeks, it could be postpartum depression.

Men’s postpartum depression symptoms are often different than women’s. Jo Kim, PhD, Director of the NorthShore Perinatal Depression Program, explains some of the common symptoms of postpartum depression in men:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Irritability
  • Agitated or angry
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Lost interest in activities
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Engaging in risky behaviors such as alcohol or drugs
  • Suddenly working more than usual hours
  • Panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts

Coping with postpartum depression:

  • Talk about it. It is not uncommon for men to not talk about their feelings, but it helps! Men should discuss how they feel with their partner, as they may be experiencing the same thing.
  • Take care of yourself. Do not let your diet, exercise or hobbies fall to the wayside. Work with your partner to find a way for both of you to get a little “me” time.
  • Seek professional help. Professional help can include therapy which can help men cope and overcome postpartum depression. Sometimes, couples therapy is also helpful, particularly if both partners are struggling.

What tips do you have for someone experiencing postpartum depression?