Do Dads Get Postpartum Depression And Postpartum Anxiety?

by | May 7, 2018

Type into google, asking about postpartum depression, or postpartum anxiety – and you’ll get back millions of news articles, stories, and treatments for moms who are suffering from either. Yet, ask ‘Do dads get postpartum depression, or do dads get postpartum anxiety? – and it’s an empty room with a lot of silence.


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Do dads get postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety?

New parents know how exhausting and unrelenting having a newborn in the house is. When they fall asleep, we collapse into bed, a mess, for a peaceful sleep of twenty minutes, before starting the feeds, burps, diaper changes all over again.

However, for one new father, Ashley Curry. The first few years after his firstborn arrived – his life turned into a terrifying rollercoaster. He told Men’s Health, “I’d get up to make sure that the blankets hadn’t gone across the baby’s face once, then go back to bed,” Curry, now 49, recalls. “Then I’d go back and check again, then again. Then I’d just spend most of the night checking.”

Living in constant terror, his concerns grew from not wanting his wife to take a bath with the baby, in case she drowned him by accident or constantly worrying that he may have inadvertently physically or sexually abused his son — even though the idea of hurting his child in any way was abhorrent to him.

He never sought out treatment, or even expressed his concerns and increasing anxiety to anyone around him. When his second child was born, the anxiety increased. To the point that he lost a considerable amount of weight. “I was really, really unwell,” he says.

Feeling that he was about to have a nervous breakdown. He finally went to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a form of OCD that affects new parents.


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Postpartum OCD falls under the same diagnoses as having Postpartum Anxiety (PPA), and one of the many health ailments that affect new parents. It has started to get a lot of attention in recent years, but it focuses solely on new moms, with people assuming wrongly, that it doesn’t affect fathers also — even though one study estimates that approximately one in 10 new dads has Postpartum Anxiety or Postpartum Depression.

Postpartum OCD and PPA, are different than postpartum psychosis, a rare, yey severe condition, which causes the person to have delusions and may result in them actually harming themselves or their children.

Usually, people with postpartum psychosis don’t know that their thoughts are causing harm, whereas people with PPA are aware that it is not normal to be so ridden with anxiety and the scary nature of what they are thinking. Which results in more anxiety as a result of it.

 

How To Treat It

Getting help is crucial. There won’t be a time where you’ll find that it just disappears some day, and finding a doctor who can specialize in mental health after a baby is your first step.

The International OCD Foundation has a list of specialists that are in your area, that can help you.

The more common approach to treatment is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), where parents rank the more distressing thoughts to the least, and make their way through the list with the doctor, in what is causing these thoughts, and how to combat them. ERP is not a total cure, it will not rid you 100% of these thoughts, but it will help you manage them, and help you understand, that they are mental health thoughts, and you are not a threat to your child.


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For OCD support and advice, contact the International OCD Foundation. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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