We tend to hear about the struggles of motherhood, like postpartum depression, but we rarely hear about the difficulties that fathers go through. Although culturally, fathers tend to be seen as the ‘working’ parent, it turns out that they can actually benefit from increased participation in caring for their kids. In fact, a new study by California State University has proven that if fathers are more involved in the lives of their children, their mental health will improve.
Paternal Postnatal Depression
Paternal postnatal depression is when men experience depressive symptoms shortly after their child’s birth. The experience can be brought on by a multitude of factors, including sleep deprivation which can cause neurochemical changes in the brain of a new parent. California State University discovered that men experience PPND spikes of up to 25% during the first three to six months of the new baby’s life when sleepless nights are most prevalent. Unfortunately, there is minimal awareness of PPND among men and society at large, as culturally, men are expected to be ‘strong.’ This study is considered one of the first of its kind, offering groundbreaking insight and leaving space for future research to provide validation and clarity on the issue.
California State University Study
Investigators of the study interviewed 881 low-income, ethnically, and racially diverse fathers. They found that three factors predicted lower rates of depression during the first year: the amount of time spent with the child, the ability to perform basic tasks to care for the newborn, and providing maternal support. Dads who were present, competent, and financially supported their children were happier, overall.
The team relied on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale which was created to identify women who had postpartum depression. The scale has 10 questions about the respondent’s mental state, and answers are to be based on feelings experienced during the previous week. Eight to ten percent of men reported struggles similar to those experienced by women. Even though that number is less than half the number reported for moms experiencing postpartum depression, it is still twice the rate of depression among men in the general population.
Unfortunately, few companies are willing to provide parental leave for new fathers. This is significantly due to our cultural perspectives of men and their roles in the family. However, it is important to remember that your offspring will not be children forever. By insisting on being a part of their upbringing, you not only ensure you don’t miss out on special moments in their childhood, but you also strengthen your mental health, leading to better parenting and improved wellbeing overall.
While mothers more commonly experience the depressive symptoms of postpartum depression, it’s important to remember that fathers can also suffer from similar mental health struggles. Often, the symptoms that fathers experience relating to parenthood are rooted in a lack of involvement in the lives of their children. Taking the time to participate in parenting can drastically improve your mental health. Remember that there is no shame in asking for help if you find yourself struggling, regardless of your gender. At Alta Loma, we understand the difficulties of parenthood and we are here to help you navigate them. Here, your mental health will always be a priority. We can provide you with individualized therapy, structure and stability, medication management, therapeutic recreational activities, family counseling, and much more. For more information about what our facilities have to offer, please give us a call at (866) 457-3843.