Male Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is highly misunderstood in our culture, and is not even recognized by all medical doctors. The medical definition of postpartum depression only includes women because most of the time it occurs in women a few months are giving birth. The hormones and changes that a women’s body goes through during and after pregnancy contribute greatly to the occurrence of depression in about 15% of pregnant women. Even more taboo in the medical community is the recognition of male postpartum depression. Many medical doctors do not recognize this as a real illness because they cannot test for it. Also, men are much more likely to hide these feelings than women instead of getting treated for the illness. Our culture norms say that men have to be strong and are not encouraged to share feelings. When very few people seek treatment for the illness it is difficult to study, making it more difficult to treat and harder to recognize.

I think that belief and healing are one in the same. Our brains are strong enough to control the physical feelings of our bodies, despite illness and pain. There are many studies using placebos that prove the strength of our brains. By telling a person that a pill will affect them in some way programs our brain to apply this to our physical bodies, even if the pill is chemically ineffective.  Some of the most intriguing studies in science prove this fact.

For example, if a group of men were suffering from postpartum depression and half of the group was given a placebo pill and was told it would help with his depression, studies show that many of these men would see improvement similar to the men taking the actual antidepressant. It is very important for doctors to take into account the power of our brains when medicating and treating their patients.

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  1. sarah rousakis says:

    really enjoyed your post. Male postpartum depression is something that I honestly didn’t give much thought about before this week’s lecture. It seems that after a woman has a baby, everyone is well aware of the possibility of a woman being diagnosed with depression because of the dramatic change in lifestyle complicated by stress, anxiety, fatigue etc., but not many people seem to think of the dad who is also experiencing a change in lifestyle and is having to adjust to a new and complicated/exhausting life. It is evident that men usually assume a more unemotional and strong attitude, and so it may be difficult for new dads to be able to admit to others that they are depressed, or are feeling anxious, overwhelmed etc. Perhaps if men did feel comfortable with opening up about their feelings, they would be able to get the treatment they need in order to live a better and healthier life. I also think their is a need for education regarding male postpartum depression, and how new dads are affected mentally and emotionally after their baby is born. Since most people are unfamiliar with the topic, it is more difficult for them to understand and empathize with them and what they are experiencing. Since male postpartum depression is not really recognized as an illness by most doctors, it can be difficult to diagnose and treat. It is clear that more needs to be done in order for doctors to be able to treat and help new dads cope with depression so they can live a normal life.

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