Postpartum Depression: Dads Have It, Too

Kim Conte
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Most doctors think only women suffer from postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. But new research is suggesting that fathers can get it, too.

A physician writing for The New York Times reportes about a patient—a father—who came to him for treatment for male postpartum depression two months after his wife had a baby. As it turns out, 4 percent of all fathers had clinically significant depressive symptoms within eight weeks of the birth of their children (at least according to one study).

So why is this important information for moms? Obviously, if dads are feeling depressed or suicidal after the birth of a baby, they need to be able to get them the help they need—even if their doctors are skeptical.

But equally as important? In situations in which the mother is suffering from postpartum depression, it is often expected that the fathers can easily step in to help. However, research suggests that fathers whose partners were also depressed were at nearly two and a half times the normal risk for depression. In other words, filling in for Mom could be very difficult if Dad, too, is depressed. Therefore, it is important for doctors to realize that postpartum depression can affect both mothers and fathers in order to help determine what is best for the parents and the child.

Did your partner ever exhibit symptoms of postpartum depression? How did you handle it?

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