Post Partum Depression is thought to occur in anywhere from 10 to 25% of new fathers, compared to between 14 and 30% of new mothers.
Post Partum Depression is a fairly well documented illness for women although there is still a lot to learn. By contrast, there has been almost no research into Post Partum Depression in men despite evidence that new fathers are, statistically, almost as vulnerable to PPD as are new mothers.
In women, there are hormonal changes which can lead to difficulties after a birth. In some cases, the woman may barely notice any change while, on the other extreme, it could become the beginning of PPD. However, it is the emotional changes and, sometimes, physical changes to his environment which contribute to PPD in men.
Some symptoms may appear the same in both men and women, particularly withdrawal and emotional disconnection from their child as well as both physical and emotional withdrawal from a partner. However, while women will find emotional ways to cope, for example, may cry a lot or show severe differences in emotions, men are more likely to become withdrawn physically as well as emotionally. Typical behaviour might be seeking distractions in the form of drink, hobbies, television, etc. They may become more irritable, impatient and even aggressive. The worst part being for those around him who must cope with this as, in this situation, he is showing his inability to cope and, typical behaviour may become seen as normal or he may not even realise that anything is wrong.
Diagnosing PPD in Men
While a woman may show extremes of emotion and, possibly, appear isolated from her new baby, this may not be seen in men. It may never be noticed if a man is isolating himself from his responsibilities because, in the main, it is still the mother who nurtures the newborn child. Men might feel left out or not needed. This might make it difficult to diagnose PPD as opposed to simply feeling unneeded.
Looking out for symptoms is important. Usually, it is agreed that showing five or more of a list of symptoms (which can be found on the websites below) may constitute reasons for diagnosis although it may be wise to look for a diagnosis if there are less symptoms. Also, just because the symptoms appear, it should not be assumed that it is due to PPD.
It may be difficult to treat a man suffering from PPD, partly because a man, even if he did realize that there was a problem, would not often be willing to admit to it. The first hurdle to overcoming PPD in men is getting him to admit that there is a problem. Once this is achieved, there are treatments available but the best form of treatment for men is counseling as the hormonal therapies available for women would not be appropriate. Helping men to discover the reasons behind their PPD may help them find the necessary treatment. It may be that there are underlying factors in their depression and it may be depression itself spurred on by feelings of, perhaps, not being able to live up to their fatherly expectations, in which case, antidepressants may be available.