July 6, 2021 -- Postpartum depression isn’t just something new mothers can get. Turns out it can affect new fathers, too, according to a new study.
Michael W., a 38-year-old New Jersey-based attorney, and his wife had been excitedly planning for the birth of their baby and were overjoyed when she was born.
But after that, "I found that parenting a newborn was shockingly exhausting. I felt unprepared for the task, overwhelmed by the burden of the 24-hour-schedule and lack of sleep, and I struggled with feelings of inadequacy," he tells WebMD.
Michael never thought he had postpartum depression (PPD), perhaps because the condition is more commonly associated with women. But a new study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health suggests that PPD also affects men.
A team of Danish investigators led by researcher Sarah Pedersen, of the Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, extensively interviewed eight fathers with PPD and found their primary experiences involved feelings of being overwhelmed and powerless or inadequate, which sometimes turned into anger and frustration.
Ultimately, all the men interviewed for the study sought formal help from a health care provider, but six went through several months of depressive symptoms before seeking or getting help.
"I think one of the most important take-home messages is that practicing clinicians working with new parents should invite fathers to your consultations and engage the fathers as much as possible," Pedersen tells WebMD.
The findings also contained a message for parents, she says.
"I hope you will support each other and talk about your feelings and how you experience the transition to parenthood -- know that it will take time to adjust to your new role,” she says.
Not Enough Attention
There’s been too little focus on fathers when it comes to PPD, according to P...