Home About Contribute Sponsorship Contact Sign In


Health Industry Opinion

Men and the effect of Paternal Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression has long been associated almost entirely with women, however, men can also suffer from this condition and often go through the pain silently.

Men and the effect of Paternal Postpartum Depression

"Im from a mining community. We never talked about mental health. I was one of those people who would say Depression? Theres always someone worse off!"
Mark Williams

Postpartum depression has long been associated almost entirely with women, with NHS statistics revealing that more than one in 10 new mothers are affected within a year of giving birth. However, men can also suffer from this condition and often go through the pain of postpartum depression silent and unsupported. This is largely due to the stigma surrounding men’s mental health conditions and the impact of toxic masculinity.

During lockdown in the UK, concerns about postpartum depression, along with other mental health issues, have been discussed more than ever. Many new parents rely on their social circles, their families, and the routine of their jobs and partners to help battle feelings of depression. Without these support systems in place, more new dads than ever will be feeling alone and isolated.

With this in mind, let’s explore the ins and outs of paternal postpartum depression (otherwise known as PPND) and tackle the taboo.

What is Paternal Postpartum Depression?

PPND is real and it is affecting men everywhere. One report from the American Medical Association revealed that 10 per cent of men worldwide showed signs of depression during the first trimester of their partner’s pregnancy, and a shocking 26% during the three to six-month period after the baby’s arrival.

The experience of PPND is also intrinsically linked to the mother’s experience, with one report revealing that half of men who have partners experiencing postnatal depression will go on to develop it themselves. However, there are many other potential causes. The mother’s postpartum depression is usually triggered by hormonal fluctuation, and some studies have proven that men’s hormones act in a similar way. A decrease in testosterone, paired with a surge in oestrogen and prolactin cause some men to experience mood swings, anxiety, nausea, and gain weight.

Evolutionary scientists have hypothesized that this unusual fluctuation in hormone levels is nature’s way of making sure that the father stays with the mother and the baby. Though, of course, PPND manifests itself in diverse ways and can often have the complete opposite effect.

The sleep deprivation which most new parents are likely familiar with can also play a part in causing PPND. Extreme sleep deprivation can trigger neurochemical changes in the brain. These changes, in turn, can contribute to the hormonal fluctuations.

What are the symptoms of Paternal Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum Depression can manifest itself in different ways, and men often experience different symptoms to women. The most common symptoms in men include:

·        Increased anger

·        Frustration and irritability

·        Significant weight gain or loss

·        Shutting off from family and friends

·        High levels of stress

·        Impulsive behaviour

·        Fatigue

·        Feeling upset and crying for no reason

In many cases, toxic masculinity gets in the way of men being able to properly express their feelings, so they bottle up their PPND and try to ignore it by keeping busy in other ways or, in some cases, turning to alcohol and drugs. 

PPND might show itself differently in each person. For example, many men who are suffering choose to up their hours at work as a distraction and an attempt to channel their frustration into something else.

Battling the Stigma

The best way to combat PPND is to demolish the taboo and give more men a platform to talk about their feelings, shame-free. The societal demand for men to be stoic and strong often leads to devastating results. Doctor Will Courtenay, author of “Dying to be Men”, argued that “men need to recognise that depression is a medical condition; it's not a weakness of character. For a man to admit he's depressed isn't unmanly or admitting defeat. It's taking charge of his life.”

In conversation with the Guardian, Mark Williams, 44 described his PPND concerns that “a dad with postnatal depression comes across as a bad dad,” he went on to describe his experience about the taboo subject: “I’m from a mining community. We never talked about mental health. I was one of those people who would say: ‘Depression? There’s always someone worse off!’”

Admitting feelings of PPND is the first step and reaching out to loved ones to ask for support is fundamental. Charities such as Mind UK offer many resources on going through depression and multiple mental health helplines are available (listed here). There has also been a bigger push over recent years to start screening fathers for postpartum anxiety and depression and channelling more resources into detecting the symptoms early.

Conversations like this one will also help soon-to-be dads know what to expect. The more prepared men are about the reality of fatherhood, the better equipped they will be to cope with their own mental health and help to support that of their partner. Preparation is key, both mentally and practically. Many dads like Mark admitted to feeling stressed and anxious about the actual birth of their child, but if you read up as much as possible, prepare a hospital bag checklist, and know what to expect, you’ll be able to provide a greater level of support to your partner and be more involved in the birth.

Clearly, more must be done to normalise this experience and allow men to come to terms with their suffering rather than turning to obsessive working or substance abuse. Spreading the word about PPND will be instrumental in improving the mental health of fathers everywhere, so start having these hard discussions, and tackling the taboo of paternal postpartum depression.









Health Business News - Volunteering can help save lives Health and social care champions, Newcastle Healthwatch and Gateshead Healthwatch, are looking to recruit volunteers who want to make a difference to local services.

Volunteer's Passion Could Save Lives

Health Business News - The strategy, which was based on survey feedback provided by both professionals and the public in June this year, sets out the organisation s key priorities for the next three years.

New strategy gives Salfordians their say on health and social care services

Health Business News - A WOMAN who lost everything in boating accident is ready to return to the seas after undertaking pioneering therapy. Debs Mitchell, 54, from Hullbridge, and her partner Mark Morrow, 58, had been living on their boat for seven months preparing for trip to Gibraltar and then across the Atlantic to the Caribbean then it all went wrong.

Essex couple who lost everything at sea ready to do it again

Health Business News - Over a third of manual workers believe their employer is putting profits over people, with close to one in ten fearing for their safety every day at work, according to a major new study.

Major study reveals the hidden cost of workplace safety

Health Business News - Preventative healthcare company PAM Group is strengthening its management team with two senior recruits to help drive further growth. Brandon Collins and Stefan Jagielski will join PAM in early 2022 from employee assistance programme services rival business Health Assured.

PAM Group strengthens management team as duo join from rival

Health Business News - A healthcare supplies business launched by preventative healthcare company PAM Group has had a flying start and is on track to achieve revenues of more than 500,000 in its first year of trading.

PAM Group's Sankey Health venture makes a flying start

Ten Times Ten

Analytics, Modelling & Business Intelligence Specialists