New fathers at risk for postpartum depression, study shows

Reporter: Therese O'Shea
Published: Updated:

FORT MYERS, Fla. — New fathers are just as susceptible to postpartum depression as mothers are, according to a newly released report.

Also known as paternal postpartum depression, the report shows many men suffer from the condition once thought to be reserved for new mothers.

Kathleen Biebel, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts, said paternal postpartum depression isn’t unheard of.

“We see rates of postpartum depression in fathers anywhere from 4 percent to 25 percent,” Biebel said. “It’s really something that’s just not talked about.”

Craig Mullins has suffered from symptoms of the condition. He was determined to be a great father, but his newborn screamed so much that he typed “I hate my baby” into his computer.

“I just started typing in these thoughts, these emotions I had, and it came up,” Mullins said. “Postpartum depression in men.”

Fathers and mothers experience similar symptoms, such as the inability to concentrate or loss of interest in daily activities.

“I couldn’t wait to go to work, and I never wanted to be like that as a dad,” Mullins said.

Biebel also warned that men who have a history of depression and those who live with a partner suffering from postpartum depression are more likely to develop the condition as well.

“Twenty-five to 50 percent of men who are living with partners who have postpartum depression also develop postpartum depression themselves,” Biebel said.

However, researchers say men are less likely to seek help than women.

Armin Brott, author and editor of the blog, believes many men feel they will be ridiculed.

“They feel that they’re going to be made fun of, and they actually have been made fun of,” Brott said. “People say basically, ‘Suck it up, quit complaining, take care of your wife and be a man,’ and that’s a really hurtful thing to say.”

Support groups exist to help fathers deal with postpartum depression. Mullins, who is also a professional counselor, spends time helping other fathers cope with their condition.

“You’re not crazy,” Mullins said. “You’re not a bad father, you’re not a bad husband.”

Biebel hopes future research focuses on understanding the unique characteristics of men living with paternal postpartum depression.

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