In recent years, psychologists have made inroads in destigmatizing depression and other mental illnesses. However, men continue to be less likely to seek treatment for depression than women. Never is this truer than after the birth of a child. Postpartum depression, in which a woman’s hormones fluctuate after giving birth and she experiences depression, is so pervasive that TV shows like the Let Down address those issues in detail. Yet we almost never see the media discuss how the postnatal period can affect the dad. Up to 1 in 4 men suffer from paternal postnatal depression after the birth of a child. Addressing and destigmatizing this can make it easier for men to seek treatment and enjoy the early months and years with their children.
What Causes Paternal Postnatal Depression (PPND)?
The commonly held belief is that maternal postpartum depression is caused exclusively by hormonal fluctuations after giving birth. As a result, men think that because their bodies didn’t go through the trauma of childbirth, they should be exempt from postnatal depression. However, hormonal fluctuations are only one of many causes of depression after bringing a child into the family.
Any time you expand your family, there is a period of adjustment for everyone involved. Even if you’re excited about the new baby, you may find yourself grieving for the life you used to have. This is especially true if you’re facing unexpected difficulties with the new baby. Some risk factors for PPND include:
- A lack of sleep
- Financial difficulties
- Fights with your in-laws
- A colicky or “difficult” baby
- Differences in parenting styles with your spouse
- Your spouse having postpartum depression
- Uncertainty about caring for a child
Even if you have an “easy” baby and your relationships are fine, you may find yourself struggling with your new lifestyle. Bringing home a new baby means that you have less time for yourself and for the activities you once found enjoyable. Luckily, there’s help for men suffering from PPND.
Accelerated Resolution Therapy and PPND
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) is especially beneficial for men suffering from PPND because it works so quickly. With the stigma men especially face for seeking treatment, achieving results quickly can be necessary to get them on board. The accelerated progress of ART can also help them get through their PPND while their child is still young, preventing there from being a lapse in bonding between the father and the child.
We know the importance of the relationship between a father and his child. Talking about and destigmatizing PPND can help fathers learn to bond with their babies and build a healthy, nurturing relationship with them.