Paternal post-natal depression affects around 10% of fathers.
Postpartum depression is commonly thought of as a women’s issue but a number of scientific studies have revealed that men can also be affected by the disorder. On recent episode of Today, one parent has come forward about his struggles with postpartum depression after his wife gave birth to their son.
As Zavo Gabriel told Today, his wife Annie went through a difficult birth of their child. She was in labor for 36-hours, and the doctor had to use the forceps in the delivery.
“It was really difficult for me seeing the look on her face when she was pushing the hardest,” he explains. “She was screaming and making these noises, which sounded like someone pushing for her life.”
Once Gabriel’s son was born, he started having “multiple panic attacks a day,” and he had to distance himself from the family for some time.
“I was a total wreck,” he confessed. “Annie’s mom had to step in and be the co-parent for those first few weeks.”
According to research, about 10% of fathers can suffer from postpartum depression. As a source at Northwestern University explains, “The estimate is higher than depression in the normal population. A father’s depression has a direct link to the child. It definitely impacts the whole family’s health.”
And the same factors that can cause postpartum depression in women can affect men as well, whether it’s a history of mental illness, more stress in your personal life, sleep deprivation, or changes in your hormonal chemistry. Men can experience a drop in their testosterone levels, which can lead to depression once they become fathers.
As one source told Today, postpartum depression in men “shouldn’t be belittled. We need to change the culture of what masculinity is and be more inclusive about why fathers’ experiences matter.” Dads don’t get screened for postpartum depression as much as women, and they’re often afraid of the stigma surrounding the condition, which often prevents them from getting the help they need.
Gabriel did finally seek help, completing six weeks of outpatient therapy, and he’s still attending therapy while raising his son. “All I wanted was to get back to Annie and start this life as a family,” he says.