Postpartum depression is something we always associate with motherhood. We think of this condition as something that afflicts women after giving birth, but a new study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior suggests that postpartum depression is almost as common in men as it is in women.
According to the study men who experience a drop in testosterone levels are at a higher risk of developing depression after the birth of a baby. Other studies show that men also suffer from sleep deprivation almost as much as the moms, and stress over juggling a career with parenthood.
On the other hand, fathers who experience a rise in testosterone levels often exhibit signs of hostility due to the pressures of parenting- this includes verbal or physical aggression sometimes even towards their partners.
The results of the study support previous studies that show fathers too have a biological response to parenting. And that they too struggle with the stress of child rearing, and for some, even to the point of becoming depressed.
The study’s lead author Darby Saxbe says: “So, it is important to figure out how to support fathers and what factors explain why some fathers are very involved in raising their children while some are absent.”
Although it seems that boosting the father’s testosterone levels might be a logical way to deal with his postpartum depression Saxbe believes otherwise. “One take-away from this study is that supplementing is not a good idea for treating fathers with postpartum depression,” she said. “Low testosterone during the postpartum period may be a normal and natural adaptation to parenthood.”
She instead advices fathers to get ample sleep, and try to exercise to maintain physical fitness to be able to improve one’s mood and balance hormone levels.