How to Tell If a New Dad is Suffering Post Partum Depression

Here Are the Tell-Tale Signs
Almost as many new fathers as mothers suffer from post partum depression (PPD), according to a study first reported in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers looking at 5,000 two-parent families found that 14 percent of mothers and 10 percent of fathers suffered moderate to severe PPD. But PPD in dads isn't often diagnosed or treated - perhaps because the issue isn't on doctors' radar, or maybe because men are less likely to seek medical attention in the first place.

While there isn't a specific list of symptoms for PPD in men, the National Institute of Mental Health cites the following signs of male depression:

Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood.
• Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism.
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness.
• Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyable, including sex.
• Decreased energy, fatigue; feeling "slowed down."
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
• Trouble sleeping, early morning awakening or oversleeping.
• Changes in appetite and/or weight.
• Thoughts of death or suicide.
• Restlessness or irritability.
• Persistent physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pain that do not respond to routine treatment.

New fathers don't have to deal with the hormonal changes that moms face postpartum, but the huge life change that comes with having a baby is often enough to trigger PPD in men. Other risk factors, experts say, include a history of depression, fatigue, marital problems, financial issues and having a partner experiencing PPD. No matter what the cause, experts stress that men experiencing depression after the birth of a child need to seek treatment.

For more information, check out "Postpartum Dads," an outreach project supported by Postpartum Support International at www.postpartum.net, or the National Institute of Mental Health online resource for men and depression at www.menanddepression.nimh.nih.gov.

© Parenthood.com, used with permission.

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