Male Postpartum Depression

Male postpartum depression is a condition among new fathers usually within the first year their child is born. About 10.4% of new dads experience postpartum depression. Many men report feeling confused, exhausted, helpless, alone and trapped. They feel that they are not ready for fatherhood and often feel lost within the first year. A lot of men may not realize that they are depressed. Since our culture expects men to be strong and masculine, it is often hard for men to come to terms with their emotional side and express how they really feel. Most cases of male postpartum depression go untreated because many health providers are unaware of the subtleties. If not treated properly postpartum depression can lead to problems in one’s marriage, child development, and well-being.

I feel that there is a big connection between belief and healing. As we have seen in in our lectures and the film, “Placebo: Cracking the Code”, the placebo effect plays a huge role in ones path to healing from a certain disease or illness. Placebos have no known therapeutic effects but if we believe that a placebo can reduce pain and cure a disease you are more likely to be in less pain. It is remarkable how we can trick our mind into thinking we are cured by a placebo and it goes to show how powerful our minds really are. A personal experience that I had with the placebo effect was when I was six years old. I had coughing and breathing problems for weeks and after about a month my parents took me to the doctors to see what was wrong with me. The doctors didn’t find anything wrong with me and said I was completely fine. My doctor prescribed me a placebo inhaler to use (which I didn’t know at the time) and after a week of using the inhaler, my coughing and breathing problems were almost gone. It is crazy how you can also think that you are sick when really you might not be.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Delisa Quayson says:

    Male post partum depression is not something you hear about a lot. As a matter of fact I had never heard of post partum depression in men, only in women. It was believed to be caused by hormones in a woman’s body after she has a child. These women feel inadequate to care for their child, they feel lost and helpless. In hindsight I guess this can affect any parent, male or female. Testosterone levels in men have been known to drop during the first few months of their baby being born. This reduces levels of aggression. So technically they also experience hormonal changes. The blog in this week’s lecture made me realize that fathers can feel just as overwhelmed as mothers when they find themselves with a newborn and at a loss of what to do. If they can’t calm down the baby or seem to do anything right. Like Maureen stated and like the blog wrote, our culture can really affect our perspectives. Men are not supposed to show signs of weakness and helplessness thus they refuse to acknowledge or report their symptoms of post partum depression. This translates to a lot of other things in our ives. We base our perspectives and behaviors a lot on what cultures we are from.

  2. James Conwell says:

    Male postpartum depression is a medical condition that is not discussed very often in our culture. I had only heard of the condition a few times, and hadn’t learned much about it until this week in class. I believe that this illness is very real, and affects many men. Society may indeed not recognize it because of the view that men must be tough and be providers and the strength of a family. In my opinion, that cultural perception will only cause the victim of male postpartum depression to experience greater stress, as well as greater anxiety regarding their condition. My biomedical perceptions of this illness are that it is likely influenced by changing hormones and brain chemistry in the body, as well as different sleep patterns due to having a baby. These differences in behavior and chemistry most likely add to the experience of postpartum depression.

    I recognize that my cultural understandings of male postpartum depression are influenced largely by the society I live in. I think the fact that I have insight on how society’s values of a strong man can negatively impact the perception of illness comes from my work in medical anthropology and psychology courses. Further, my family has influenced me, in the fact that I used to believe that men had to be strong to match their gender roles given in families- which influences my view of male postpartum depression. My work in biology and physiology courses helped shape my biomedical perception of this illness as well, because I have some academic understanding of what happens to fathers during birth. I think it is important to understand that our perceptions in the class room are influenced by society’s values, and that we often base our views on illness on society’s values.

  3. Mary Normand says:

    I had never heard of male postpartum depression before looking at this week’s materials. It is not discussed very often in our culture. I knew that female postpartum depression occurred because women’s bodies were going through hormonal changes, so I didn’t understand the biomedical reasoning behind male postpartum depression. Male postpartum depression is probably caused by the changes and increased stress in the life of a father. A father has less sleep and it is often accompanied with a wife suffering with postpartum depression. As a culture, there is a stigma with men suffering from depression. It is often considered a female sickness. Since the symptoms are often different in males and females, it is often overlooked. Men also deny that they are depressed because it is seen as weak to be depressed in our society. It would be seen as even more weak to be suffering from postpartum depression, which has historically been something that only women have suffered from.

    My culture has highly influenced by opinion on postpartum depression. Society’s standards of men have always been to be strong and put together, especially for their families. My friends and family have also given me strong gender roles as men always having to be strong. I have also never been exposed to a case of male postpartum depression or an open discussion about it, as I have female postpartum depression.

  4. Connor DeMars says:

    The reason I chose to comment on this post was because I have never heard male postpartum depression and wanted to read further into it. This is a very interesting topic because normally the woman would go through changes after birth, so you would think she would be getting depressed, but the man can experience it too. In our culture, it is common knowledge that the man is supposed to be the strongest and take care of the whole family. Therefore, the cultural perspective of this condition can actually be harmful towards men. Since men believe that they should be the leaders of the family, if they were to have signs of depression or confusion they wouldn’t seek any medical help. I believe that from a biomedical perspective there are many changes in the body (such as hormonal) due to having a baby, as well as the pressure and loss of sleep. These factors could definitely lead to postpartum depression. I believe that friends, family, and social institutions all have an influence in the perception of male postpartum depression because my friends and family have all taught me about what it is to be a man. They have explained to me about the strong gender roles that men take up in raising a family.

  5. Ashley Lathrop says:

    To be honest, I’ve never heard of Male Postpartum Depression. When I first read about it I thought, how is that even possible? I’m a mother of two and it really bothered me to think that men were stressed out or that they felt depressed once the baby was here. I know how hard it is from the woman’s point of view, physically and mentally preparing and recuperating, it’s enough to make you crazy. So my biased and unsympathetic side of me scoffed at it.

    I feel that a lot of women might have this point of view at first but then thinking more about it, I’m able to empathize with them. It’s hard to be a new mom but you rely so much on your husband that it can be overwhelming for them. Also, I think mothers are way more attached to their child because they are their main source of life (for the most part) so the father might also feel like he doesn’t know where he fits in and may have mixed feelings on what he’s supposed to be doing.

    Individuals surrounding these men might make the situation worse. It’s quite possible that the wives may not have as much sympathy because they’re going through a lot. Even more so, friends and family may think the man is being a baby and is turning the attention towards him, unnecessarily. Unfortunately, men suffering from Male Postpartum Depression may also find less help from their doctor. I wonder if OB/GYN offices and hospitals are going to start giving materials about this to men as they do to women that are having or have had a baby. I think they best way to get awareness out is providing information about it to the families when they are planning to have children or going through birthing classes and appointments. Maybe even have a 6-week post check up for the men, just like women have to see how they are feeling. It can’t hurt to have a father just as involved. It may even help with the relationship and make the bond stronger between the man and his family.

  6. Ethan Gotz says:

    Personally I have never came across Male Postpartum Depression before and was unfamiliar with the illness before coming across it today. I think the major cause of this illness and depression is the fact that there are many changes that women go through before birth and definitely after as well. But I would say that women are more prepared for these changes in their lives and expect certain things to happen and the majority of the reason is due to women’s periods, who prepare the women for birth. Males, however do not go through these bodily changes and childbirth should have virtually no hormonal change in males. But I think its the experiences and consequences of having a child that most men don’t prepare for and if anything ‘shocked’ by the responsibilities and feelings after having a child. Also our culture has a lot to do with this depression as well I think. Men are becoming more and more responsible for taking care of infants compared to how the culture used to be years ago when all women stayed at home to care for the children. I think the fact that men have even more responsibility and influence with the children as well causes an overwhelming feeling which leads to depression.

  7. Ethan Gotz says:

    Personally I have never came across Male Postpartum Depression before and was unfamiliar with the illness before coming across it today. I think the major cause of this illness and depression is the fact that there are many changes that women go through before birth and definitely after as well. But I would say that women are more prepared for these changes in their lives and expect certain things to happen and the majority of the reason is due to women’s periods, who prepare the women for birth. Males, however do not go through these bodily changes and childbirth should have virtually no hormonal change in males. But I think its the experiences and consequences of having a child that most men don’t prepare for and if anything ‘shocked’ by the responsibilities and feelings after having a child. Also our culture has a lot to do with this depression as well I think. Men are becoming more and more responsible for taking care of infants compared to how the culture used to be years ago when all women stayed at home to care for the children. I think the fact that men have even more responsibility and influence with the children as well causes an overwhelming feeling which leads to depression.

  8. Ethan Gotz says:

    Personally I have never came across Male Postpartum Depression before and was unfamiliar with the illness before coming across it today. I think the major cause of this illness and depression is the fact that there are many changes that women go through before birth and definitely after as well. But I would say that women are more prepared for these changes in their lives and expect certain things to happen and the majority of the reason is due to women’s periods, who prepare the women for birth. Males, however do not go through these bodily changes and childbirth should have virtually no hormonal change in males. But I think its the experiences and consequences of having a child that most men don’t prepare for and if anything ‘shocked’ by the responsibilities and feelings after having a child. Also our culture has a lot to do with this depression as well I think. Men are becoming more and more responsible for taking care of infants compared to how the culture used to be years ago when all women stayed at home to care for the children. I think the fact that men have even more responsibility and influence with the children as well causes an overwhelming feeling which leads to depression.

  9. Ethan Gotz says:

    Personally I have never came across Male Postpartum Depression before and was unfamiliar with the illness before coming across it today. I think the major cause of this illness and depression is the fact that there are many changes that women go through before birth and definitely after as well. But I would say that women are more prepared for these changes in their lives and expect certain things to happen and the majority of the reason is due to women’s periods, who prepare the women for birth. Males, however do not go through these bodily changes and childbirth should have virtually no hormonal change in males. But I think its the experiences and consequences of having a child that most men don’t prepare for and if anything ‘shocked’ by the responsibilities and feelings after having a child. Also our culture has a lot to do with this depression as well I think. Men are becoming more and more responsible for taking care of infants compared to how the culture used to be years ago when all women stayed at home to care for the children. I think the fact that men have even more responsibility and influence with the children as well causes an overwhelming feeling which leads to depression.

  10. Rolando Barajas says:

    On the topic of male postpartum depression I didn’t really know that postpartum depression was seen in males. I knew about females having postpartum depression and its very understandable and acknowledgeable due in part that the females are the ones who carry the baby and essentially have a new human being growing inside of them. This nurturing of the baby and pregnancy has a deep connection associated with it because the baby is dependent of the mother from very early on; she carries the responsibility of its growth. When the baby is born that deep connection is lost and the responsibility of the mother is somewhat lost and is what may lead to postpartum depression. Although the father doesn’t have as deep of a connection with the infant during pregnancy he still supports (usually) the mother of the child and is responsible for her, thus responsible for the infants growth as well. When the baby is born perhaps the father feels a new type of stress in the infants presence because now he will have to be more responsible for the infant and that sudden change in roles, from father supporting pregnant wife to father having to hold, feed, clean his infant. I think that any dramatic change in a persons life can lead to an illness especially depression because we are thrown out of our comfort zone and put in a stressful situation that we may not know how to handle or when it will end.

    I agree with you that culturally by our friends, family, and our culture men are seen to be the epitome of stability. They have to be masculine and not show any weakness and basically be a solid foundation for their families. So when we think of depression (like I did) we don’t associated too much with men because that is not a “strong” trait thus men would feel shunned in our culture for having postpartum depression.

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