October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month -- an important time for new parents and parents-to-be to consider the signs and affects of postpartum depression (PPD) on both mom and dad.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), an estimated 10% to 20% of women will experience postpartum depression. For mothers, the dramatic drop in hormones after giving birth, sleep deprivation, and other stress factors such as breastfeeding difficulty have been noted as sources of the "baby blues" (or postpartum depression, if the the symptoms don't subside after 2-4 weeks). And while moms struggle with these factors, it's often overlooked that dads do too.
Following the birth of a baby, many fathers take on new, sometimes stressful roles that come with little recognition or attention. On top of that, lack of sleep, combined with concerns about the mom having the baby blues or depression can actually trigger a father's own feelings of depression. Research released earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that up to 10% of new fathers may also experience a form of postpartum depression.
A lack of interest in caring for baby is a big red flag to watch out for. It's also important for parents to seek help if symptoms such as prolonged anxiety or sadness, excessive sleep or insomnia, panic attacks, or irrational thoughts are evident.
It is important to pay close attention to warning signs and contact a health care provider immediately if there are concerns. Heath care providers are trained in evaluating the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and will refer new moms and dads to the appropriate channels for treatment. Visit Postpartum Support International for more information.
Image credit: Postpartum Support International