Can men suffer from postpartum depression?  What are its symptoms and its main consequences

In recent times there are numerous studies that have been concerned with studying the origin and consequences of postpartum depression in women, which provide guidelines to prevent and treat it and that they have broken a spear so as not to stigmatize it. In fact, the figures speak for themselves: it is currently estimated that between 9 and 56% of women can develop this type of pathology, which makes it a worldwide public health problem.

However, little has been said so far about the paternal postpartum depression PPD, which can affect up to 25% of men after the birth of their baby and up to 50%, in the case of those men whose partners also suffer from postpartum depression. Given these data, the American Academy of Pediatrics it already recognizes the need for both mothers and fathers to be evaluated after childbirth.

What predisposing factors for a man to have postpartum depression?

A recent investigation, published last year by psychologists Rafael A. Caparrós González from the University of Granada and Maria Faith Rodriguez Muñoz from the National University of Distance Education, points out two fundamental factors that predispose to this mood disorder characterized, above all, by the repression of sadness, feelings of overwhelm and even resentment towards the baby.

For one thing, postpartum depression has been found to be directly related to biological factors and, specifically, with the decrease in various hormones such as testosterone, prolactin, cortisol (known as the stress hormone) and oxytocin, whose levels are directly related to good social relations and pleasure during orgasm.

On the other, they would meet psychological factors. Among the most important: that your partner has suffered postpartum depression, but also that there have been important changes in the couple’s relationship, feeling excluded from the care of the baby and also not having social support – network of family and friends – that can help out with parenting.

What symptoms do men with postpartum depression have?

This disorder is usually characterized mainly by the feeling sad, crying, and social isolation. It is common for this low mood to cause, therefore, a decrease in interest in activities of daily living, alterations in sleep patterns and feelings of worthlessness. In the most acute cases they also make an appearance anxiety problems and suicidal ideas.

Interestingly, it is also frequent suppressing these feelings of sadness, since most of the men try not to externalize these negative feelings; and the feeling of stay in the background, that the newborn and the mother are the ones who receive all the attention. Which can lead to resentment towards both of you.

What are the consequences of postpartum depression in men?

When postpartum depression affects men, it has, by extension, dire consequences on the Familiar scope. The study associates it with poor communication and difficulties with the partner, increased aggressiveness, gender violence and an increase in the consumption of substances of abuse such as drugs or alcohol.

In addition, parents with PPD have a increased risk of suicide, anxiety disorders and manic episodes than those who do not suffer from it. It should not be forgotten that suicidal behavior represents one of the most important health problems today, with men being the most affected group.

PPD can affect the parent-baby interaction and the amount of time parents invest in raising their children. Something very negative since it is proven that parental involvement improves maternal well-being and positively affects the child cognitive and emotional development. Postpartum depression in fathers has been associated with a negative impact on children’s development, being able to increase the risk of appearance and course of psychopathological disorders, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, attention deficit disorders and delay in the appearance of language.

Baby sleeping

The negative consequences in babies extend to problems in brain growth, deficits in the orbital-frontal maturation of the cerebral cortex and alterations in the newborn’s immune system, also having negative consequences in the establishment of a secure attachment. Even the effects on offspring can be long-term, increasing the risk of childhood suicide.

Can it be prevented and cured?

The answer is yes, as long as you know how to recognize the symptoms and act quickly to treat this problem. This is why it is so important for the study authors to invest all possible resources in the early detection of this disorder. In the treatment it is recommended, above all, the psychological performance in addition to the start-up of a strategy that encourages social support and encourages men to become more involved in parenting. “The fact that mothers share the division of tasks with fathers in the care and upbringing of the baby seems to diminish parental feelings of isolation. Furthermore, the use of educational programs that take into account both the mother and the father are more beneficial than the use of programs aimed only at one member of the couple ”, they point out.

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