Men And Postpartum Mental Health

By O'Connor Professional Group

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Postpartum depression is a much discussed topic of mental health among mothers. Mothers might experience depression, anxiety, panic, or disturbing thoughts after giving birth to their child. Ashamed of where their mind takes them, mothers become more depressed and mentally unwell. Despite the fact that there is a wealth of knowledge on postpartum depression, mothers encounter the shame and stigma which comes with thoughts of intentionally or unintentionally hurting their child, hurting themselves, or not wanting to be a mother. Mothers, however, are not the only parent who can suffer from this kind of emotional turmoil.

Fathers are speaking out more about their struggles with their mental health after the birth of their child. According to a study cited by Men’s Health, “approximately one in 10 new dads has PPA or PPD,” with PPA referring to Postpartum Anxiety and PPD referring to Postpartum Depression. Additionally, one researcher found that anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of new parents experienced the intrusive thoughts of postpartum worry which resembled the intrusive thoughts experienced by people living with OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder. Professionals refer to this as postpartum OCD.

What differentiates postpartum OCD and any normal anxiety for a new parent is the “frequency and intensity of the thoughts” the article explains. Other signs can include:

 

  • Engaging in “safety behaviors”: Safety behaviors are the compulsions which result from the intrusive, obsessive thoughts of postpartum OCD. Parents may normally experience anxiety that their child isn’t breathing, for example, and check on them once, perhaps twice, to relieve their concern. Men who have developed unhealthy thought patterns will feel a compulsive need to check repeatedly.
  • Avoiding children: A problematic symptom of postpartum OCD is avoiding contact, care, or interaction with children all together. Fathers may avoid necessary responsibilities for their child, like changing a diaper, feeding, or spending quality bonding time.
  • Protecting children: On the opposite end of the scale, fathers might do everything for their child and spend all of their available time with their baby. Problematically, fathers might isolate their relationship with their child, not allowing anyone else to interact with the child. In the father’s mind, this is to protect the child out of fear of someone else harming them.

 

Men’s Mental Health

Men are less likely than women to talk about their struggles with mental health or seek support for their struggles with mental health. Men are also less likely to ask for help when they are struggling. Out of their need for comfort or coping, men are prone to risky, impulsive behaviors which could include substance abuse or the development of behavioral addictions.

If there is a man in your life struggling with his mental health,  

Let the O’Connor Professional Group take the guesswork out of putting a treatment plan together. Our combined personal and professional experience empowers us to empower you with a private consultation and customized plan of action for getting the help you need. Call us today for information: 617 910-3940

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