Watch: Paternal Postpartum Depression in Gay Dads

WatcIt is estimated that somewhere between 10% and 25% of new dads experience Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPD) during their child's first year.

What is Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPD)? How can you recognize it? And, most importantly, what can be done about it?

James Guay, our resident gay-positive LMFT, explains what it is, how to recognize it and, most importantly, treatment options. For more information, check out Postpartumdads.org and Postpartummen.com

Watch more videos in James Guay's Living More Fully series here.

Full transcript below:

"Paternal postpartum depression not only affects straight dads, but it also affects gay, bisexual and pansexual dads, too. It’s very, very common, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, race, ability; it’s much more common than people imagine.

There are some estimates of anywhere between 10% and 25% of new dads become depressed within the first year of becoming a father.

So what are the symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety? It’s also called peripartum or postnatal depression.

Especially for guys, there can be an increased amount of anger, irritability or outbursts, those kinds of things. Because often men are socialized to think that being depressed is being weak, and it’s not – it’s just part of the human experience.

There can be other symptoms like:


  • Lack of interest in your baby or child; losing or gaining weight, and this is a significant amount of weight like 5% of your body weight within a month.
  • There can be things like sleeping too much or too little, beyond what’s expected in becoming a parent.
  • Crying or sadness, a feeling of guilt, shame or hopelessness.
  • There can be symptoms of loss of interest, joy and pleasure in activities that used to bring you joy and pleasure.
  • It can be fatigue or loss of energy, difficulty concentrating.
  • Even possible thoughts of harming yourself or your child.
  • There can be isolating from family and friends.
  • There can be restlessness and an inability to slow down.
  • There can be a whole set of behaviors to try and cope with all of these feelings and anxieties, like substance-use, impulsivity, risk-taking, or staying away from the home.

    You might be saying to yourself that these seem like normal characteristics of being a parent, right? But what distinguishes this from major depression is more intense, happens over a longer period of time and there are more of these symptoms that happen all at once.

    What’s important to recognize here is that you’re not alone and this is treatable. Things that often at times predict that someone is going to have postpartum depression or makes it more likely, is:

  • A consistent lack of sleep
  • Sometimes there are hormones changes: there is some research that men have decreased testosterone, increased progesterone and other kind of hormones that affect our mood.
  • There’s also, if there is any sort of work or financial stress, relationship conflict.
  • If there is personal or family history of depression, that can make it more likely.
  • For gay dads, if there is an unresolved, internalized homophobia, most of us come from family, or religion, or society that devalues us simply for being gay. And even if we’ve been out for years, and even if intellectually we understand your value, this material can come up for new fathers, where we can feel "less than" or "not as good of a parent." We might want to be super dad, and we might burn out, fizzle out from those kind of stresses, that we put on ourselves or have been put on ourselves.

    So it’s important to be mindful, be curious, don’t judge these kind of thoughts and feelings, that just makes it worse. But to really provide some care and compassion for ourselves in the midst of that, that’s really the antidote.

    What else can you do to treat depression and anxiety?

  • It’s really important to reach out to trusted friends and family, including getting the support from other gay dads, like through GaysWithKids.com: great articles, and videos, and forums, so that you feel as though you’re not alone.
  • There are other websites like Postpartumdads.org and Postpartummen.com.
  • You can also reach out to a professional. If you have intense feelings or just want to feeling better, finding an LGBTQ affirmative psychotherapist who gets what’s going on here can help you resolve those feelings much, much, much more quickly.
  • I say this a lot, but good exercise, good nutrition, adequate sleep, getting these things consistently enough is also really important to be operating at your best."

     

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