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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Lowther

Fathers and Paternal Postpartum Depression: How common is it and what does it look like?

According to Postpartum Support International, 1 in 10 fathers will develop postpartum depression, and up to 18% will develop an anxiety disorder, including PTSD, OCD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, anytime during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Left untreated, these conditions can persist for years. Evaluating, screening, and seeking care for paternal depression during pregnancy or postpartum is crucial.

Symptoms of paternal postpartum depression (PPPD) can vary and may include emotional, behavioral, physical, and cognitive signs. Men often suppress their emotions, leading to somatic complaints and complicated feelings. It's essential to recognize and address these symptoms as they can impact healthy bonding with the baby, family dynamics, and partnerships.

Common Symptoms of Paternal Postpartum Depression:

Emotional Symptoms:

  • Depression: Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness.

  • Anxiety: Excessive worry about the baby’s health, finances, or fathering ability.

  • Irritability: Increased frustration or anger.

  • Mood Swings: Frequent emotional fluctuations.

  • Stress: Feeling overwhelmed by new responsibilities.

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Withdrawal: Avoiding social activities or responsibilities.

  • Changes in Sleep and Eating Patterns: Insomnia, oversleeping, loss of appetite, or overeating.

  • Substance Abuse: Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other substances.

  • Behavioral Addictions: Engaging in compulsive behaviors such as excessive working, pornography, shopping or gaming.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Fatigue: Persistent tiredness despite adequate rest.

  • Headaches: Frequent headaches or migraines.

  • Digestive Problems: Stomachaches, constipation, or diarrhea.

  • Aches and Pains: Unexplained muscle or joint pain.

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Difficulty Concentrating: Trouble focusing or making decisions.

  • Forgetfulness: Increased memory lapses.

  • Indecisiveness: Difficulty making even small decisions.

  • Mental Fog: Feeling mentally foggy or unclear.

Relationship Symptoms:

  • Marital Strain: Increased tension or conflict with the partner.

  • Lack of caretaking responsibilities.

  • Detachment from Baby: Difficulty bonding with or feeling indifferent toward the baby.

  • Low Libido: Reduced interest in sexual activities.

Risk Factors:

Certain factors can increase the likelihood of paternal postpartum depression:

  • A history of mental health issues.

  • Lack of social support.

  • Financial stress.

  • Partner experiencing postpartum depression.

  • Relationship difficulties.

  • First-time fatherhood.

  • Father of multiples.

Seeking Help:

It's vital for fathers experiencing these symptoms to seek help promptly. Untreated paternal postpartum depression can have long-term effects on the father's well-being, the partner's mental health, and the child's development. Treatment options include therapy, support groups, and medication if necessary. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, reach out to a healthcare provider, mental health professional, or support group for assistance.

June 17th is International Fathers’ Mental Health Day

This day aims to de-stigmatize, advocate, and raise awareness of perinatal mental health for the entire family system. If you believe you're experiencing trauma or PTSD due to a maternal near-miss, seek help. Postpartum Support International offers resources, support groups, and a provider directory to get connected. Screening tools are also available on their website. If you suspect postnatal depression, contact a provider promptly. In case of emergencies, call 911 or go to your local emergency room.

Postpartum Care Support in Orlando, FL:

Suicide Prevention Resources in Orlando, FL:

These resources offer support and assistance for individuals experiencing paternal postpartum depression, postpartum care needs, and suicide prevention in the Orlando, FL area.

Lowther Counseling Services,, 2024

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