It’s not only mothers of newborns who sometimes grapple with postpartum depression after childbirth. Fathers of new babies also can suffer from the condition, according to a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association. In fact, JAMA notes, approximately 10 percent of new fathers experience the condition.
“Other fathers felt happy and joyous,” said Joel Schwartzberg, who suffered postpartum depression after the birth of his son 10 years ago. “Inside, I felt like my world had collapsed, and along with that, I felt a great and incredible sense of responsibility. I thought I was the only person in the world who was a bad dad. I thought I was deficient, that I was handicapped. What I learned was that I was not alone by any stretch. It helped me relax; it helped me not be so hard on myself.” Eventually, Schwartzberg sought medical treatment for his postpartum depression.
The study, performed by researchers at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, analyzed 43 studies involving 28,004 men and found that just 4.8 percent of men fit the diagnosis of depression under normal circumstances. That number climbed to 10.4 percent in fathers of new babies; three months following birth, the study found that approximately one fourth of the men studied were depressed. Sleep deprivation could be a root cause, says William Courtenay, a researcher, psychotherapist and founder of www.saddaddy.com, who noted that men often act out through anger and irritability. “A man who’s depressed can look like someone who’s stressed, angry, irritable and getting into conflict with others, or being withdrawn or drinking,” Courtenay said. “We can also see classic signs of depression, a sense of worthlessness and helplessness and sad mood.”
“Also, he may be grieving because he no longer has his wife to himself,” said Jean Cirillo, PhD. “He has to share her with the baby, and the baby’s needs get taken care of first. This can be hard for a man.”