Postpartum depression is an established mental health condition and reality to some women after having a baby and now studied and recognized in men. According to a meta-analysis study of prenatal and postnatal depression in men, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 25 percent of men experienced depression 3 to 6 months postpartum. Initially, 10 percent of men experienced postpartum depression. What this shows is how depression can creep up in your life. Having a baby is an amazing life changing experience bringing on so much love. It can also create a lot of stress and change as the relationship between the couple can change where attention and time is placed more on the baby vs the couple. Increasing work demands, responsibilities, finances, limited sleep and self-care are factors experienced not only by women, but also men. Many men are focused more so on their wife and baby’s emotional and physical state to where they may be suffering in silence about their own health.
The research also showed a relationship between
depressed women and depressed men. Where there were depressed women, there were
depressed men. This shows how relationships feed off one another and how
depression on either side of the partnership can influence the other side. This
is no surprise as unhappiness transpires through behaviors and interactions and
can be felt on some level by the other person. For example, the woman may
disengage and then the disengagement may be felt by the man to where he avoids
the relationship. This avoidance may lead to unhelpful behaviors involving
overworking to burnout, increased drinking, drug use, spending, and/or possible
The first three years of a baby’s life are significant not only in terms of how much their brain grows, but also sets the tone for their sense of self and expectations in relationships from other people. Also, there is research on the influence of maternal depression on children. If we know these things of how common depression is after having a baby what can we do to combat it?
Increase supports such as having family or friends on board to help, a babysitter, someone to run errands, a night nanny/nurse, and/or housekeeper during the first several months or more to help adjust to the new transition.
Sleep is so important to our functioning as humans. Losing sleep has been shown to significantly hurt attention, concentration, and mood, all things important to taking care of a family and working. Finding time to sleep and creating a schedule with your partner is key. The schedule will likely change and it is important to remember this with time. When unable to schedule sleep time with your partner, it is encouraged to find family, friends, or hired help.
We all have an innate desire for connection and having that time to do so with your partner is so necessary especially after having a baby. It is recommended that date nights or time scheduled in the day to connect in a positive pleasurable manner is key to maintaining a healthy romantic relationships, but also helpful to lifting depression. Increasing pleasure helps to improve mood. Having fun helps the mood. Who can argue with that.
Another important thing to consider is having a work life balance where one is able to work efficiently and also spend quality time with baby. The word quality is key. It isn’t about quantity but quality of the time. The memories you create with your family are happening now and memories are not something taken away. Some men and women work to burn out whether out of house or in house and the key is to notice the signs of burn out and change.
The above factors can overlap and things can get messy and hard to sort through. Or you have tried these things and are still feeling depressed. This is when seeking help from a licensed psychologists trained in treatments for depression can help assist. There are treatments for depression that have been proven to effectively treat depression. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective treatments for depression.
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