Postpartum depression: when the father suffers from it

They know everything about pregnancy and breastfeeding. They change nappies with dexterity and walk around the city proudly with a baby carrier and stroller. And if breastfeeding is artificial, they are happy to relieve their mother at night. It is wonderful and rewarding for today's fathers to participate in the life of the child. But beware: not always everything goes smoothly and corresponds to an idyllic picture. It is true for mothers, who can experience depression in what should be a moment of maximum joy, and it is also true for fathers.

Completely neglected until about twenty years ago, today postpartum depression of fathers is a well-known and recognized fact in the scientific field. Various studies, in recent years, have dealt with the subject (here and here two scientific articles that take stock of the available data), reaching the conclusion that this disorder it can affect about 10% of new fathers from all over the world, from the United States to China. Typically, depression affects dads in the first year of the child's life, with a peak between three months and six months, while the immediate post-partum period seems less at risk.

10% of new fathers experience depression in the first year of the child's life, with a peak between 3 and 6 months.

Symptoms? "They are the classic ones of depression: depressed state, sadness, insomnia or other sleep disturbances, deso of isolation, difficulty concentrating and working efficiently "explains psychiatrist Franca Aceti, head of the Mental Hygiene Unit of emotional relationships and post-partum of the Polyclinic Umberto I of the city. "To these must be added the sense of inadequacy with respect to the relationship with his partner and son".


10 tips for a happy mother So you can prevent depression

go to the gallery

In the first months after giving birth, the new mother must learn to take care of herself a little and never forget that if the mother is well, the baby is fine too.

As in the case of maternal depression, also for the paternal one the triggering causes are different. There may be the involvement of some hormonal element, because even in males the levels of some hormones change during the perinatal period - before and after childbirth - but these are factors still to be clarified. For sure, studies have shown that dad's risk of postpartum depression is higher if the mother also suffers from depression and if he has already suffered from depression or anxiety disorders in the past.

"The fact is, these ailments always have to deal with your own individual and personal history. If there have been difficult situations in the past, for example a difficult relationship with your father, or the traumatic separation of the parents, it is easy for negative emotions and mood disorders to reappear just when there is a new critical situation, such as it may be precisely the birth of a child, which is a formidable existential transition "Aceti affirms.

And yet, other factors can predispose to the risk of paternal depression: for example the economic precariousness or financial worries, the fact of living one not very satisfying relationship, with poor communication, with his partner, the sense of exclusion from the mother-child relationship, which is very strong in the first few weeks. Certainly even the lack of sleep, inevitable when there is a newborn in the house, and the fact of colliding with a reality that can be very different from how it was imagined, do not help.

"Even for new fathers the change following the birth of the baby is noticeable, especially if it is the first child "comments the psychotherapist Anna Salvo." "Before the arrival of the child, one has the illusion of being masters of one's time and life, an illusion that inexorably collapses with arrival of the baby and that forces us to reformulate our expectations ".

How to intervene if there is something wrong?

But how to intervene if you realize that something is wrong, that the world is always too black, the prospects appear gloomy, there is no desire to do anything and maybe you become more and more irritable and nervous? The first thing to do would be to try to do not shut up and immediately talk to your partner about it. "Without accusations - advises Salvo - but also without being ashamed of appearing fragile: expressing one's fears or feelings can give rise to a new complicity, which consolidates the couple's bond". Of course it is not an easy step, also considering that by nature males tend to be more introverted and closed on very personal matters.

Alternatively, it can help to discuss with a friend, or with a dad who may have already gone through the same experience. And of course there are the figures of the family doctor, to whom you can turn for advice on how to deal with this particular moment in your life, the operators of the counseling centers, the specialists of outpatient clinics dedicated to mental hygiene. The intervention strategies can be different: from psychotherapy, perhaps to be faced together with the new mother, if she too has some difficulty in adapting to the new role, to pharmacological interventions.


Vip mothers who have suffered from postpartum depression

go to the gallery

It is news of the last days: the singer Alanis Morisette spoke of her suffering after the birth of her third child. Like her, other VIP mothers: Alena Seredova, Katie Holmes, ...

In short, the tools are there and it is good to use them. Because the most serious situations, those that are not destined to fade on their own in a few weeks of adaptation, can lead to important consequences also for the child. At risk is the possibility of establishing a good relationship with the little one - for example, some studies have shown that fathers are depressed more likely to spank children, and less likely to read with them - and above all to leave long-term traces on his emotional development and health. In fact, it seems that the children of fathers are depressed themselves more prone to depression.

Other sources for this article: information material on BabyCentre; information material on WebMD.

Read the original version of the article

- Updated on 30.06.2022

  • postpartum depression
add a comment of Postpartum depression: when the father suffers from it
Comment sent successfully! We will review it in the next few hours.