International Fathers’ Mental Health Day: Is my daddy strongest?

PPD in men more common than perceived

The birth of a child can produce an array of emotions ranging from joy, happiness, and excitement to nervousness, anxiety, and fear. It is well known that new parents, especially the mothers, suffer from mood swings, disturbed sleeping patterns, and hormonal changes. Usually, the mothers are able to cope with these emotions, however, in some cases, these may lead to a long-lasting, severe form of depression known as post-partum depression (PPD).

While the discussions always revolve around PPD in new mothers, the other parent – the father – tends to get ignored. Unfortunately, nearly 10 percent American fathers experience paternal PPD (PPPD) in the first two months of the birth of their babies. This number increases to 50 percent if the mother is also experiencing PPD.

Recognizing the need for fathers to seek help for PPPD, Mark Williams and Dr. Daniel Singley founded the International Father’s Mental Health Day (IFMHD). The goal of commemorating the day is to encourage families to take a father-inclusive approach to mental health as they also play an important role in the upbringing of their children. As the world observes the 4th IFMHD on June 17, 2019, it is important to initiate a conversation on PPPD.

PPD in men

Diego Jordan was a bundle of nerves while his wife Susan suffered a 29-hour labor which finally ended in a C-section. The Jordans wanted a normal delivery, but due to complications, the doctors finally had to perform a C-sec. With tears of joy rolling down his cheeks, Diego said that looking at his wife’s face and hearing her scream was a real tough experience for him; in fact, it was a “gut-wrenching encounter.”

Diego had always thought that he was ready to embrace fatherhood. By the third trimester, he had read all the books on parenthood, attended parenting classes along with Susan and even joined a new father’s club in his neighborhood. But after the birth of Janis, their daughter, the overwhelming emotions started to take their toll on him. After several nights of continuous crying, every single sound the baby made at night sent a shudder of panic through his body.

Remembering his panic attacks, he said that it was like the room was spinning and shrinking around him. He had a couple of panic attacks throughout the day and felt like he was losing it. What Jordan was going through was not the usual panic attacks, but a manifestation of postpartum depression in fathers.

Causes of PPDD

PPD has always been associated with women because experts believed that it is caused due to the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and childbirth. But recent studies have shown that there are other factors that contribute to PPD. Some of these include stress levels in daily lives, family history of mental illnesses, and even sleep deprivation.

Brandon Eddy, an assistant professor in the Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said that most of the causes of PPD were common in men and women. Researches show that just like new mothers, some of the new fathers also undergo hormonal changes post the birth of their children. Testosterone levels, which is linked to mental health, drops in men when they become fathers.

Qualitatively, PPD in men and women is different. But these differences do not make it less serious in either of them.

Symptoms of PPPD

Symptoms of post-partum depression are different in men and women. Men tend to show their anxiety and other mental health problems through problematic behavior. These may include:

  • Excessive aggression
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Substance use and abuse
  • Lack of interest in family activities

What is more worrying is the fact that men do not tend to seek help for mental health problems, which might prove to be disastrous. Societal norms call for men to be strong and when they are not able to feel these emotions, they refrain from accepting it and seeking help fearing a backlash. Since men are thrice more likely to commit suicide than women, it is crucial that new fathers seek help whenever necessary.

Seeking treatment for mental health

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorder. It can seriously impact a person’s quality of life It can be identified when a person experiences a sense of feeling low and having had lost the sense of pleasure and happiness in life. According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), as many as 300 million people suffer from depression all over the world.

It is essential that one receives treatment at the right time. If you or a loved one is battling mental health disorders, like depression, contact the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline. We offer credible information about evidence-based 24/7 mental health treatment centers available near you. Call our 24/7 outpatient mental health helpline (855) 653-8178 to know about the finest mental health treatment programs near you. You can also chat online with a representative for further information.