Male Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a moderate to severe depression that affects many women and men after giving birth to their child. It can last as short as a week or even up to a year. In this week’s article, Craig Mullins speaks about fatherhood and his unexpected hardship of being a good father. Fathers are also caretakers as well as the mothers, and though both may take on separate roles in raising their newborn, both must go through the same experiences within different perceptions. To say that the father goes through the same postpartum depression as the mother would be playing down the role for both.

As a form of depression, one can be prescribed antidepressants, and can go to individual counseling to help better connect their situation with others going through the same thing. It’s difficult to say whether many men believe they have postpartum depression. As Mullins states, “…men tend to avoid talking about things that might make them appear weak, and our culture tends to discourage men from disclosing their feelings….” Although, antidepressants and counseling is available, it seems that even to convey those feelings is a difficult step for many men to make or to even come to terms with.

Once a man comes to terms that he has postpartum depression, it is an illness that can be cured without medication. The woman from Placebo: Cracking the Code was cured of her severe depression after trying a new “clinical antidepressant medication.” Only to find out that she was part of the pool that took the placebo. She was completely taken out of her black hole she found difficult to escape on her own. The belief that her mental illness consumed her really did consume her. When there was a slight sense of hope within a new type of medication she might have symbolized that opportunity as her one and only chance. In this way, mental illnesses are difficult to diagnose and heal for they are completely subjective, and can be cured within the connection of emotional belief and healing.

Being a parent is overwhelming, and when changes and emotions come at high heavy speeds, it can be overwhelming for anyone. To come into something confident and then feel stuck and confused in the middle of it is a paralyzing feeling. It seems many parents feel they should know what to do in their children’s everyday lives, but they too are going through this new experience with them. Maybe the idea of taking on the sick role as a male is not acceptable as they must take on responsibilities of their child and their own.

2 thoughts on “Male Postpartum Depression

  1. To me paternal post partum depression is not really an accurate name for what is happening to a father after the birth of a child. For women this is an illness because there are so many hormonal changes going on in their bodies from the growth of the child inside them and then from the birth itself. So, with this hormonal imbalance, the fact that there is now another body for her to nurture and care for can send her into this depression. With men they lack this key hormonal imbalance to consider this an illness for them. Yes they do have many new responsibilities that go along with having a child and that can bring about a lot of fear, which can turn to depression. But this is not really post partum depression for them. This particular depression should be classified as just that, depression. Lacking the biological abnormalities is what separates post partum depression felt by women, and the depression that is felt by the father.
    These views come mostly from my family. I hear things that my parents talk about and it rattles around in my head and in this case what they were saying is valid. Another place that my views come from is from the article we read for class about the father. Many of the points he makes are valid, but in the end he lacks the biological imbalances that make postpartum depression what it is.

  2. Depression in general is a difficult illness for me to understand and categorize. Although depression is a very common illness that has even affected me, the cultural stigma surrounding it makes it hard for me to legitimize it as relevant in biomedicine. Postpartum depression is even more stigmatized socially because mothers and fathers in the case of this article are expected to jump into parenthood without any negative emotions. Particularly for men, our culture does not expect them to feel any burden from pregnancy and therefore their experiences with postpartum depression are considered unbelievable. Treatment of depression is also something that our culture considers a weakness. Having to go to counseling or take anti-depressants is often something that patients keep private because many consider depression to be a “bad case of the blues” rather than an actual illness that should be treated. Reading through the course materials, I believe that this view of depression (and postpartum depression) is caused because Americans do not view mental illness as a true illness. We see medical issues in the flesh and body rather than the mind, and unlike other cultures, our medical systems focus predominantly on treating the body. When our culture is presented with medical illness that is affecting the mind rather than the body, we consider it to be irrelevant and not a true illness. Illness of the mind is broken down to conform to biomedical descriptions, but because of the complexity of these illnesses it is hard to understand in a cultural lens.

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