A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that one in ten fathers suffers from postpartum depression, a condition that affects individuals after childbirth.
While this type of depression has been associated primarily with mothers, further research revealed that fathers were not immune to the condition. Dr. James Paulson of the Eastern Virginia Medical School reported that the many stresses of parenting can affect both the mother and father in similar ways. “Going from being a single person to a parent is a real shock,” he says. “And certainly both parents trying to cope with a big change in life can be stressful.”
The riskiest period for fathers to experience postpartum depression is 3-6 months after the child is born. Researchers felt this was a result of both parents returning to work around this time after their leave has ended. There is also a huge financial burden that comes with raising a child, which can also add stress to the already sleep-deprived parents in the immediate months after the new baby is brought home.
Fathers experiencing depression tend to hide it because it is culturally viewed as unacceptable to express emotion as a male. However, not dealing with your depression can be harmful to your child. “There’s evidence growing that depression in fathers is negative for children and increases the risk of emotional and behavioral problems,” Paulson explained. The best way to handle your depression is to seek out group therapy, prescription drug treatment approved by your doctor, or individual counseling. Fathers are also encouraged to open up with their family to get more support at home.