Have you ever heard of, or thought about the concept of, postpartum depression in fathers? We usually associate it with hormonal changes that of course wouldn’t affect the father, but the emotional toll of a new baby can affect new dads too!
I don’t have to tell you that having a baby is both incredibly rewarding (seriously, words cannot describe the immense joy, pride, and love I feel every time I look at ELLA!!) and also incredibly challenging. Obviously the first part more than trumps the rest, but that doesn’t mean you won’t ever be overwhelmed, panicked, and on the brink of collapse!!
I like to say that my own postpartum journey began (figuratively) 5 years ago…back when
I was struggling so deeply wondering if we would ever be able to have kids.
I was depressed for sure but I say that’s the BEGINNING of the postpartum journey, because I had resolved to love myself no matter what, use EXERCISE as therapy, keep journaling and keep on keeping on. It’s hard to have a positive mindset sometimes, but 5 years ago was when I started to teach myself those skills.
Without those emotional tools in my toolbox, I don’t know how I would have gotten through my own postpartum depression.
And I ALSO don’t know what I would have done if Steve or my mom had been going through emotional crises of their own during this time…both of them were my rock, my support, my stability when they sat on the floor of Ella’s room with me and I cried feeding her.
But postpartum depression in fathers is no joke or made-up thing. I’m just so glad that Steve didn’t suffer from it!
You might be thinking, “Yes, being a father is hard, but they don’t have the DROP in hormones, the PHYSICAL changes, that women obviously experience postpartum. That doesn’t mean they can’t have PPD, though — whether it’s from being really sleep deprived, or in the case of this guy in this article, being afraid the baby hates you!!
(Spoiler alert: The baby didn’t hate him!! 😉)
So a dad feeling inadequate, even if he’s doing a great job, can be part of the issue.
OR, postpartum depression in fathers can easily happen when the mother is depressed.
And that’s more complicated than just “he’s sad because she’s sad. It’s actually a lot like SYMPATHY PAINS, where the father might actually be experiencing a physical change in hormones!!
So what’s the solution to postpartum depression in fathers?
Well, going to the doctor is just about the only real solution here (same as it is with mothers with PPD). A doc may recommend talk therapy (I “talk” more about that, in this blog post!) and/or antidepressants.
However, a strong support network like the one I had is also vital to making it through PPD. You need to feel loved, understood, and like you’re doing just fine (you are!!), and sometimes it takes an outside voice to remind you of that.