A Moment of Science

Can Dads Experience Postpartum Depression?

We often hear about woman experiencing postpartum depression but did you know that men can experience it too?

Father and baby hand

Photo: Ozgur POYRAZOGLU (Flickr)

One in four fathers experience postpartum depression.

I know that new mothers sometimes experience postpartum depression. But can new dads get depressed after having a baby, too? And although it may surprise you, the answer is yes.

Yes, It’s True… And Common

Research shows that as many as one in four new dads experiences what’s known as paternal postnatal depression.

Hold on. Depression in new moms is often caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy, right? Right. But new fathers don’t actually get pregnant, obviously.

So Why The Depression?

A few reasons. First, like new moms, new dads also go through hormonal changes. They often have higher estrogen and lower testosterone levels.

Some biologists think its an evolutionary adaptation to curb a new father’s aggressiveness and keep him around to help care for the baby.

Up All Night

New dads also don’t get much sleep and have to deal with the stress of caring for an infant. Both factors could spur depression. Sleep deprivation is an especially tricky problem. Not getting enough sleep can mess up the balance of chemicals in the brain, raising the risk for depression.

And if you already have underlying risk factors for depression, the chemical imbalance can be a strong trigger.

Read More: Fact or Fiction: Fathers Can Get Postpartum Depression (Scientific American)

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