New Dads Can Get the Baby Blues Too

by Armin Brott,
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Most of us have heard of new moms experiencing the "baby blues," or actual postpartum depression, but few acknowledge that paternal postpartum depression is just as real.

According to Will Courtenay, a psychotherapist specializing in male postpartum depression, as many as one in four new dads experience symptoms such as stress, irritability and anger in the days, weeks and even months after the birth of a child.

Unfortunately, men rarely discuss their feelings or ask for help, especially during a time when they're supposed to "be there" for the new mom.

One big problem is that men and women express depression differently. Women tend to get tearful; men get angry or withdraw from their family and retreat to the office. Because depression — including the postpartum kind — is usually seen as affecting women more than men, many mental health professionals don't recognize the symptoms, or write them off as normal adjustment to the challenges of new parenthood.

Untreated, it can cause marital conflicts, reckless or violent behavior, poor job performance, drug or alcohol abuse, and even thoughts of suicide. In addition, studies show that parental depression negatively affects children's emotional and behavioral development.

Although no one knows exactly what causes postpartum depression, some groups of men are more susceptible than others. The clearest link is if a partner is depressed herself, or if there is a personal history of depression. Other factors include financial problems, a poor relationship with a partner or parent, being unmarried, or if the pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted.

Postpartum depression doesn't discriminate based on socioeconomic level or ethnicity. It typically affects first-time parents, but can occur after subsequent births even if no symptoms appeared after the first child.

Men experiencing postpartum depression should understand that it's not a sign of weakness. It's a recognized medical condition that affects hundreds of thousands of fathers.

Courtenay's Web site,, offers an anonymous survey to help men clarify the issues and a list of good resources for getting help.

Symptoms of male postpartum depression

Symptoms typically appear one to three weeks after the birth and can include:
a. Feeling stressed or irritable
b. Being discouraged
c. Strong aversion to hearing the baby cry
d. Resentment toward the baby or the attention he gets
e. Increased conflicts with others
f. Fatigue
g. Disappointment in yourself or belief that you should be feeling differently
h. Ongoing physical symptoms, such as headaches,0,6092472.story

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