Postpartum depression in…Dads?

I caught this article in Healthline and it made me want to further explore this topic: There is ample research which shows that Dad’s can suffer from Postpartum Depression, too.

First, a disclaimer. This is not an attempt to minimize the pain or severity of Postpartum Depression in Moms. This is not a #NotAllMen related entry, and please don’t take it that way. The evidence is clear – Postpartum Depression in women problem is real (with as many as one in seven women suffering), it is large and it is significantly more widespread than postpartum depression in men. Indeed, in my legislative career, I’ve worked on legislation which would help low income women be screened and treated for Postpartum Depression.

That being said, Postpartum does apparently hit Dads too, and I think its an issue worth exploring.

The Healthline article reviewed a variety of research on Postpartum in new fathers, which analyzed a variety of internet postings in blogs and chat rooms (yeah…not sure about that) and showed that many men suffered from symptoms about Postpartum and weren’t sure what to do or where to find information.

However, there is ample research – of a more rigorous, academic type – which shows that Postpartum does truly exist in men, so much so that it has a name: Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPD).┬áThis issue is widespread enough that there is an entire website dedicated to it. Postpartummen.com accurately notes that there are many symptoms of depression, but men often experience and express it differently, including through anger and alcohol. For what its worth, this is also something which I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

How widespread is this issue? According to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Research, high – as many as one in ten men. The study also noted that the rates were slightly higher during the 3-6 month period, and PPD correlated moderately with maternal depression. Hormones are a big cause of maternal postpartum depression, but that’s also the case for men: Men experiencing PPD also have testosterone drops.

The good news is that treating PPD is just like treating any other disorder – as long as you are able to seek and find help, you’ll get there. As best I can tell, relying on therapists and support groups are widely accepted options to deal with PPD.

As always, I conclude by asking you for your opinion! Do you have experience with dealing or treating PPD? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Gender differences in depression

This isn’t exactly a revolutionary statement, but men and women experience depression differently. Gender differences and the topic of “toxic masculinity” have received quite a bit of press lately, and this is an area I think is absolutely worth exploring. Do men experience depression differently then women? Do they then show those differently Because of the way we socialize the genders, are men more likely to experience and express depression differently and in ways which we would consider to be more stereotypical?

According to the available research, yes, absolutely.

An October 2013 study found that men experience depression in a manner which is “different than what is included in the current diagnostic criteria.” The results of the study found that men are more likely to experience anger, aggression, substance abuse and risk taking when depressed. These symptoms are not used when diagnosing depression, but are outside of currently accepted diagnostic criteria.

Even more interestingly: When alternative (but accepted) measures are used to diagnose depression, the study found that men and women experience depression in relatively equal proportions.

Other reviews have come to similar conclusions. In this article in VeryWellMind, it was noted that women express depression by becoming more visibly emotional, while men become “more rigid” and less emotional. An article in University Health News noted that symptoms of depression experienced by men often involve “having symptoms that are not usually considered in the diagnosis of depression.”

What does this tell us? Men and women are obviously socialized differently and express emotions in different ways. What I would love to know is the role of this socialization and how it affects depression expression – what men are more likely to experience and express depression in different ways? What women are more likely to express depression in ways which are more similar to men? That would be an interesting study.

But, the conclusions here are pretty clear. Men experience depression different then women, and that means that we have to be more aware of the gender differences between the two in order to ensure that men get the same treatment as women. I’d also argue that it means we have to ensure that we raise men differently. Men need to know it’s okay to experience and express emotions in ways which aren’t stereotypically male. Things seem to be changing in that regards, but that one is on all of us who are parents to ensure that men know there’s nothing wrong with being sad and saying as much.

A strange gender gap: Men, women and writing about depression

As part of my marketing efforts for Redemption, I’ve been reaching out to other author’s in similar book categories, which means other Young Adult books which deal with mental health, depression and anxiety. These efforts are how you’ve seen some of the other Six Question entries.

The other day, I noticed something strange:

Let me give some backup here to that tweet: I just went back through my notes on other authors. I identified 115 authors who also had books in this category. Of those 115, only 18 were men; 89 were female, and another 8 either had names that could have been either gender or used initials (which often than not, means they are a woman – see J.K. Rowling, who went with her initials because her publishers were trying to disguise the fact that she’s a woman).

Anyway, that difference is massive: 115 authors, and a mere 16% are men!

What the hell is going on here?

This is just a hunch, but I think what I’ve found is a microcosm of society as a whole: Women are much more willing to discuss mental illness and emotions than men. According to research, both men and women are more likely to be viewed more negatively when they suffer from “gender atypical” mental health disorders. Additionally, according to a 2015 study, men are more likely to have negative attitudes towards health seeking, which results in a less significant uptake in using mental health services.

This blows me away. I mean, it shouldn’t – none of this is surprising, and intuitively, I think most of us recognize that women are more comfortable seeking help and discussing emotional topics than men.

There are so, so many issues facing women today. I’m so glad that, as a member of the human race, we are doing a better job at discussing vitally important issues like women’s equality and safety. But I think one of the things we don’t do a good enough job of – and my above observation would seem to back up this assertion – is discussing how these gender stereotypes also hurt men.

Please, please do not misunderstand me here – I am not saying, “Boohoo, but what about the white man, life is so hard for us, we are so discriminated against!” That simply isn’t true, and it is abundantly clear that other minorities and women have much, much tougher obstacles to overcomes than any white man does. It is also apparent that we, as a society, must do a better job at creating a more level playing field and changing our culture as it pertains to women and minorities.

But, I think it’s important to note that men can also be the victims of gender stereotyping and expectations – and clearly, this is one such example. What I would hope this observation would make us realize is that we must do a better job of working towards true equality in society – and men have many, many ways to benefit from achieving that ideal as well.