Male Postpartum Depression - Tips For New Dads To Overcome It

baby Feb 14, 2019
Male Postpartum Depression

When talking about the ups and downs of fatherhood, one topic that rarely comes up — even though it should be talked about more — is male postpartum depression.

Also known as paternal postpartum depression or paternal postnatal depression, this condition is very real and can be a big roadblock to you becoming the best dad you can be.

Today, we are going to talk all about it, with the goal of helping new dads get through men’s postpartum depression.

What Exactly Is Male Postpartum Depression?

Most of us have heard of postpartum depression — but often only when it pertains to mothers.

Postpartum depression, in simple terms, is a serious mood disorder that often occurs after the birth of a child. Typical of depression, it can manifest as persistent feelings of sadness, frustration, and overwhelming stress.

However, this condition isn’t exclusive to just moms. Male postpartum depression is a genuine and serious condition affecting many new fathers.

A study by Dr Paulson and Dr Basemore in 2010 showed that around 10% of men experience postpartum depression, feeling the symptoms of depression before or just after the birth of their new baby. Moreover, this can go up to 25% in the three to six month period after the birth of the child.

Risk Factors of Men’s Postpartum Depression

Certain factors can increase your risk of developing male postpartum depression. These include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Extreme stress or anxiety
  • Financial concerns
  • Relationship concerns
  • Personal history of depression
  • Family history of depression or mental illness
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet

Signs You May Have Male Postpartum Depression

Recognizing the signs of men’s postpartum depression is the first critical step towards addressing the condition and starting your recovery journey. Below are common symptoms of men’s postpartum depression:

  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  • Anger or irritability
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Large increase or decrease in weight
  • Lack of motivation, even for things you used to enjoy
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Suicidal thoughts

Take note that symptoms can manifest in subtle ways, making it possible to overlook them as the usual responses to stress due to your new role as a parent.

7 Tips for Coping With Male Postpartum Depression

If you recognize the signs of postpartum depression in yourself, do not worry or panic. You are not the only father to experience this. With help and support, you will get through it and come out stronger.

Below are seven tips to help you cope with postpartum depression for dads.

1. Get Enough Sleep

This might seem impossible with a newborn in the house, but getting enough sleep is crucial for bringing up your mood. Try taking naps together with your baby or coordinating night baby duty with your partner. Avoid drinking coffee in the afternoon. If you’re struggling with insomnia, you can also explore possible solutions like sleep tea, supplements, or white noise apps.

2. Maintain a Balanced Diet

A proper diet is always important — especially if you are struggling with any mental or physical condition. Well-balanced meals can significantly boost your mood and energy levels. Stop eating junk food. Excessive sugar intake as well as too much processed foods sugars can contribute to mood swings and worsen your symptoms.

3. Drink Less Alcohol

Many people turn to alcohol as a way of coping with stress, but it can exacerbate symptoms of postpartum depression. Remember that alcohol is a depressant. It’s essential to limit your alcohol intake and find healthier ways to deal with difficult emotions. Simply cutting out regular alcohol intake, or drinking much less, can help you feel better — both physically and emotionally.

4. Fill Your Mind With Positive Messages

Negative self-talk can worsen symptoms of postpartum depression. Make an effort to surround yourself with positive messages. Start your day with a motivational affirmation in front of the mirror. Then read motivational quotes, listen to uplifting music or podcasts, or watch YouTube videos that inspire positivity throughout the day.

This isn’t a once-and-done deal; it’s a consistent practice that helps reshape negative thought patterns over time.

5. Practice Gratitude Daily

It’s easy to get caught up in the challenging aspects of postpartum depression, but it’s essential to find things to be grateful for each day. Keeping a gratitude journal, making notes on your phone, or simply taking a few moments each morning to think about what you’re thankful for can help shift your mindset and improve your overall well-being. It may not feel natural at first, but with practice, you’ll start to notice the positive things in your life more easily.

6. Get Support From Friends and Family

One of the most important things you should do if you have male postpartum depression is have a support system.

Tell your partner, your family, or your friends about the feelings you are struggling with. If you can’t bring yourself to tell your loved ones yet, you can start with online support groups and connect with other fathers going through the same thing.

It’s important to talk about your feelings and emotions with someone. Keeping all your worries, stress, and anxiety bottled up can worsen your condition.

7. Seek Professional Help

If your feelings of sadness, anxiety, or despair seem overwhelming, or you find yourself struggling to cope with the symptoms on your own, then it may be time to consult a mental health professional. 

Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of taking control and having strength. There is no shame in reaching out for professional help. In fact, it is a step in the right direction.

Therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists are trained to help you navigate through this part of your fatherhood journey. They can provide you with better coping strategies, therapy methods like cognitive-behavioral therapy, or even medication if necessary. 

Finding Your Way Through the Tunnel

Recognizing that you have male postpartum depression does not make you any less of a man, a husband, or a father. It simply means you are a human who is undergoing huge changes in your life.

If you are struggling with men’s postpartum depression, always remember that you do not have to go through it alone. You have your loved ones and professional mental health experts ready to help you.

Dad University is always here to offer support, as well. 

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