Postpartum Depression has only recently started garnering the proper attention it deserves. Now, after studying it, researchers are finding that mothers are not the only ones who suffer from it; dads get it too.
While women have a major hormonal fluctuation after giving birth, which frequently triggers the Baby Blues (moodiness, irritability, weepiness, anxiety), her system will generally regulate itself after 3 weeks and those symptoms will subside. Postpartum depression lasts longer, or has a later onset, and the symptoms are more severe.
Now they’re finding that men also experience postpartum depression. While men do not have the hormonal imbalance that women do in the immediate postpartum (though some studies have shown that their testosterone levels decrease with a simultaneous increase in estrogen), there are still many factors that can contribute to depression; sleep deprivation, loss of connection with partner, change of role in the family. New research conducted by James Paulson of Eastern Virginia Medical School, to be published in the May 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, has found that over 25% of U.S. fathers experience postpartum depression three to six months after the baby is born. This is higher than fathers in Europe, Australia, South America and China, the researchers found.
“Three months is when family leave runs out [in the United States], and I can’t help but wonder if that has something to do with it,” Paulson said. “But there is also a lot going on with the child by that time.”
Studies have shown that crying peaks after three months and the baby may be more demanding, having developed clear preferences for certain behaviors, such as being constantly held, he said.
Other causes of parental depression can be isolation from the outside world, sleep deprivation, changes in the couple’s relationship and adjustment to the change in one’s life role, Paulson said.
The United States has some of the worse maternity/paternity leave times of many developed nations. It stands to reason that if new parents were more adequately supported during this important life change, that it would create less stress and eliminate many of the contributing factors.
The research also found that if a mother has postpartum depression, it was more likely that her partner would experience it as well. It is difficult to take care of the mother, the baby, and the household, while also trying to hold down a job and keep the family intact. That is a lot of pressure for anyone to handle, letalone while sleep-deprived. If we can help new mothers avoid the risk factors for postpartum depression, we can also help the fathers.
Family support after the birth of a baby is absolutely essential. The U.S. is an isolationist country; we expect everyone to just take care of themselves. But if we had more support, our children would be better off. A 2008 study published in The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that children of depressed men were more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems by 3.5 years old and more likely to have a psychiatric disorder by the age of 7.
It’s also not surprising that divorce rates are higher within the first year of the birth of a child as well.
So, moms and dads – take care of each other while you take care of the baby. Make time for each other, make time for yourselves, and don’t feel guilty when you need to let someone else take care of the baby once in a while. Parenting is a marathon, and you need to keep yourself in shape for it. And, here it is: use the placenta! Don’t throw it away after the baby is born. The capsules are valuable, and can help avoid some of the risk factors. If you can’t use your own baby’s placenta, try placenta capsules from another source. It’s worth a try!