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It's true that postpartum depression or PPD is something that is still mostly associated with mothers and their state of mental well-being after a new baby arrives home. Researches indicate that 1 in 5 new mothers suffer from severe depression or anxiety right after giving birth.
And they're significantly more likely to suffer from these conditions during their first year as a mother, in comparison to any other time of her life. However, sadly, even after all these, postpartum anxiety disorder is something that is still woefully under-recognized and under-researched, as well.
But what gets even more unnoticed and unacknowledged is the fact that daily more and more dads are experiencing postpartum depression too. Multiple studies have surfaced facts like postpartum depression has impacted 10 per cent of new fathers and another 25 per cent during the first year of their baby's life. Not grave enough?
Well, you should know that these numbers doubled when respective partners were also prey to postpartum depression. Yes, it's much much more common than you even think!
It's an irony how there's still a major gap in the understanding of PPD. And that exists because there are no common diagnostic criteria for paternal PPD.
Sadly, the mostly used diagnostic definition has been cribbed from the definition that identifies postpartum depression in women. It is diagnosed as one of the major depressive episodes with an onset in the first month after birth.
What Causes PPD?
There is not really a single answer to why some dads are affected by depression, and not everyone. Usually, PPD is triggered by the emotional, stressful and unsettling experience that having a baby can be.
Adding up to this is increased pressures of fatherhood, that includes but are not limited to financial responsibilities, lifestyle changes, dearth of sleep and increased workload at home-all combined affects a new dad's mental well being to a great extent.
What Symptoms Should You Look For?
Individual dads experience PPD differently. Sometimes there might be common symptoms of PPD among you and your partner experiencing depression; look for them and try creating a symbiotic relationship wherein both of you help each other come out of it effectively.
We have listed some of the typical symptoms of PPD here below. Some may not be listed here but if you don't feel quite "right" within yourself, feel free to consult an expert about it.
- Feeling very low, or despondent and hopeless about life
- Feeling tired mostly, and sometimes even quite numb
- Feeling inadequate or unable to cope
- Feeling guilty about not loving the baby enough
- Being irritable, making the guilt worse
- Having irrational thoughts that can often become scary
- Loss of appetite or feeling hungry all the time, but being unable to eat
- Getting irregular sleep
- Being hostile or indifferent to the partner and/or baby
- Anxiety, often about things that wouldn't normally bother
- Experiencing physical symptoms, such as headaches
How To Fight?
If you want to be a good dad, you need to take care of your problems, including PPD. There are a few ways to do this:
- Talk Therapy- For many fathers experiencing PPD, talk therapy has worked wonders. Sometimes just getting the burden off your chest or may be crying it out in a safe place, is all that you need to gain a newer perspective toward life.
- Make Resolutions- You remember how you used to make resolutions at the beginning of the year to start things fresh? Now do this to treat your body better. Think of the birth of your kid as another new beginning and create a perfect opportunity around it to take care of yourself. Eat better. Take walks. Do some yoga. Hit the pub with your mates. Love yourself.
- Medicate- Let me repeat that this doesn't mean to self-medicate. Consult a doctor. Do not treat your depression with alcohol or drugs. You need actual medication, prescribed by an expert with whom you can openly talk to.
If you feel you're suffering from PPD, do not hold yourself back from reaching out to experts who deal with depression. You can even share your feelings in the comments section below; we'll try our best to help you out in this condition. Remember, we're listening!