Postpartum mood disorders, such as postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety, can affect not only the birthing parent but also their partner. While postpartum mood disorders are often associated with mothers, it is important to recognize that fathers and partners can also experience emotional challenges during the postpartum period.
Fathers and partners may not experience the pain of childbirth or need physical recovery, but the presence of a new child is a major life change. Fathers and partners, like mothers, need to pay attention to their mental health. Exhaustion and stress, in addition to other factors, can lead to postpartum depression. 8-10% of new fathers experience PPD and that’s not necessarily accurate because most suffer alone and in silence. Women are often screened by their doctor for postpartum depression, but men typically aren’t. They are also more likely to underreport their symptoms which is why PPD in men can go undiagnosed and untreated.
Feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and stressed following the birth of a child is a normal aspect of parenthood. Still, if symptoms persist or if they interfere with daily life or the ability to care for the child, then it could be postpartum depression. This is true for both mothers and fathers.
Here are some key points to consider:
Postpartum Depression in Partners:
- Partners can experience symptoms of depression after the birth of a child. This may include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in activities.
- The partner’s depression may be related to various factors, including changes in sleep patterns, increased stress, and adjustments to new responsibilities.
Physical symptoms in partners can include headaches, stomachaches, or other physical complaints without a clear medical cause; changes in appetite, sleep patterns, or energy levels. Sometimes it is noticed that the partner or father withdraws from family and friends, avoids responsibilities and tasks and struggles to connect with their baby or partner.
Postpartum Anxiety in Partners:
- Anxiety is another common experience for partners during the postpartum period. This can manifest as excessive worrying, restlessness, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
- The stress of adjusting to parenthood, financial concerns, and changes in relationship dynamics can contribute to anxiety.
- Partners may be at an increased risk for postpartum mood disorders if they have a history of mental health issues, if there are challenges in the relationship, or if there is a lack of social support.
Impact on the Relationship:
- Postpartum mood disorders in partners can impact the relationship and family dynamics. It’s important for both partners to communicate openly about their feelings and seek support.
Support and Treatment:
- Partners should be encouraged to seek support from healthcare professionals, such as counselors or therapists, who can provide guidance and coping strategies.
- Open communication between partners is crucial. Sharing feelings, concerns, and experiences can help build understanding and support each other through the challenges of the postpartum period.
- Partners should prioritize self-care, including getting adequate rest, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and seeking help when needed.
It’s important to recognize that postpartum mood disorders can occur in partners and men, and seeking help is crucial. If someone is experiencing these symptoms, they should reach out to healthcare professionals, such as a doctor or mental health provider, for assessment and support. Treatment options may include therapy, support groups, and, in some cases, medication.
Support from friends, family, and the partner can also play a significant role in the recovery process. Letting them know that they are not alone and creating an open and understanding environment where feelings can be shared without judgment is essential. Postpartum mood disorders are treatable, and seeking help early can lead to positive outcomes for both the individual and the family. If you are affected or worried that you are affected please reach out to us. We can connect you and your family to resources in our area and our Doula team can help too.