Postpartum depression in DAD!


Fred works at a local insurance company. He is a good employee: shows up on time, is punctual with his reports, courteous to his customers, and kind to the staff. Lately, however, he "keeps to himself," and likes his door closed when he has a stack of forms to complete. Recently there have been a few lay-offs at his company; Fred is determined to "stay below the radar."

Fred's wife, Jessie, is expecting their first child, and the pregnancy is going well.

But midway into his wife's pregnancy, life has gotten tense around the house. Fred is a bit hyper. He is quick to criticize Jessie if dinner isn't ready by the time he gets home, he spends more time in front of the TV with an extra beer, and he reports that he is too tired to make his customary morning trip to the gym. Instead, Fred has made an uncharacteristic number of trips to the doctor these past few month for an ache or pain here, indigestion, and headaches. While he seems exhausted in the evening, he tosses and turns at night. Jessie often finds him dozing on the couch when she gets up in the morning.

Like 7% of men in the United States, Fred is suffering from depression. However, he doesn't "look depressed." He has no crying spells and his mood is not slowed down. On the contrary, he is revved up a notch or two. Fred remembers being "kinda blue" for a semester or two in college and reports that his mother was treated for depression years ago.

Fred needs help...for the sake of his well being...for the sake of his marriage...and, ultimately, for the sake of his baby.

A recent study by the American Psychiatric Association confirms the increasing incidence and importance of postpartum depression in dads. APA President says, "The life changes for a new dad are enormous. Just thinking about the costs of raising the kid to 21, maybe for life, can be terrifying. And all the unspoken fears: Will my wife still be as interested in me? Will my baby be as cute as my brother's baby?" "Moreover, male postpartum depression may have more negative effects on some aspects of a child's development than its female counterpart," says James F. Paulson, PhD. A dad's depression during his wife's pregnancy is a significant risk factor for her postpartum depression.

Furthermore, a new study in Pediatrics confirms that depression in dads is linked to increased crying in their newborns. Does dad's depression cause more tension in the home and less responsiveness to the baby, or is it the other way around? No one yet knows.

Fred's brother notices that Fred is "just not right." After considerable support and encouragement, Fred finds a doctor who has experience treating depression in men. A few weeks after treatment begins, Fred finds his was back to the gym, opens his office door at work, and is back to patting his wife's growing tummy. Fred thankfully feels like hemself again and is ready now to be the dad he wants to be.