Postpartum Depression in Men: A Quick Overview

man and baby image

Postpartum depression (PPD) is defined as a major depressive episode that causes an array of emotional and behavioral changes in a parent after their child’s birth. PPD is usually reported in mothers, but it’s not uncommon for fathers to experience it as well. There are no established criteria for PPD in men, and it can occur anytime over the course of one year after the child’s birth.

Signs of Postpartum Depression in Men

Here are some common signs of postpartum depression in men:

  • Feeling sad or crying for no reason
  • Increased frustration or irritability
  • Sudden mood swings and conflict with others
  • Isolating oneself from friends and family
  • Frequent complaints about headache, digestion problems, or pain
  • Increased use of alcohol/drugs
  • Struggling with concentration and motivation
  • Feeling tired or sick all the time
  • Loss of interest in work, hobbies, and/or sex
  • Feeling discouraged and cynical
  • A feeling of unworthiness and hopelessness
  • Difficult in accepting change, including your child’s birth

There are certain factors that put men at a greater risk of experiencing PPD. These include: 

  • Lack of proper sleep
  • Personal or family history of depression
  • Strained relationship with spouse and/or parents
  • Feeling overwhelmed with all the responsibility
  • A constant pressure of being a good father
  • Having a dysfunctional or non-standard family
  • Poor social life
  • A sense of disconnection from the mother and baby

Treatment for Postpartum Depression in Men

The first step in treating postpartum depression is identifying it. Unfortunately, there isn’t much awareness surrounding postpartum depression in men, which is why there’s no specific treatment for it. But because the symptoms are the same in men and women, the same treatment is used for both genders.

The first-line treatment recommended to treat PPD is prescribing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as sertraline. However, there’s very little evidence supporting the stance that anti-depressants can alleviate PPD symptoms. 

Besides anti-depressants, psychotherapy (including cognitive behavior therapy and interpersonal therapy) has shown to be effective in treating PPD. Other interventions, such as acknowledgment of feelings and offering support, are being explored as a potential treatment to alleviate the symptoms of PPD or completely avoid its occurrence.

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