Monday, January 22, 2007

Postpartum Depression Happens to Dads, Too

Recent studies indicate that postpartum depression isn't just a phenomenon that affects women; men can struggle with it, too. This Seattle Times article sums up some recent findings on the topic. And while women's ppd may be brought on by hormonal changes, the same is not true for men; thus, the research suggests that dramatic lifestyle shifts--not hormonal ones--may contribute more to ppd than previously thought. When you think about it, it makes absolute sense. A postpartum *family* often experiences sleep disruption, changes in identity, different parenting challenges, changes in intimacy, and greater contact with extended family and/or kin networks. All of these lifestyle changes bring about a certain amount of stress. Taken individually, a family may weather the challenge without much trouble. But when these challenges happen concurrently, it's easy to see how depression might creep into a mother's or father's life. And while American culture does much to celebrate a new baby's arrival (as well we should), what is less discussed is the loss parents incur by becoming parents. With growing awareness about how postpartum depression may affect women, postpartum women and the people who care for them are much more attuned to noticing the signs and symptoms of depression. Now we know that we need to be just as vigilant with fathers, as well.

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