Fathers Can Struggle Too: Dads and Postpartum Depression

Dads Postpartum Depression

Over the years, more and more, focus is being placed on the mental well being of fathers. In the past, the parenting struggles of fathers have been largely ignored as the role of fathers has been mainly of financial provider, rather than primary nurturer. As part of the psychology of parenting (POP) services, I provide support to fathers individually, and in couples therapy.

Recent research shows that men can experience depression and anxiety during and after the birth of their child. The exact biological reasons are still unknown. It is hypothesized that men can experience chemical brain changes during the bonding process, and that sometimes this increases feelings of sadness or excessive worry. However, environmentally, it is generally agreed that lack of sleep, the extra worry the father carries during the birthing process, the pressure to support the mother and child in the early months, and the shift in household duties, all contribute to the depression of dads.

In addition, fathers are often expected to balance their primary breadwinner duties with caregiver tasks. As a result, the father often feels pulled between the demands and expectations of their employer and the new requirements of home. Not only can this increase depression and anxiety in the father, but it can often cause fathers to feel an increase in isolation, as lack of time infringes on the support network they previously created.

Since advice gathering and problem sharing is not a typical part of male communication, fathers can often feel insecure over their parenting skills and what their role should be at home. Most often, fathers in the current generation did not have stay-at-home male role models. Their fathers worked long hours and left the primary care duties to the mom. Things have shifted, and sometimes the father is now the person who stays at home. Whether it’s a full time care-giver job, or a part-time one, dads can feel lost and alone. They have no picture or memory to connect to in order to help guide them as they create their identity as a father.

I know many men feel hesitant to access help. I can help you feel like your life is back in balance, by guiding you while you formulate the identity you want to as a father, and support you through times of transition.


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Patricia O’Laughlin, licensed therapist and Art Therapist, providing EMDR and therapy to individuals, couples, teens, and adults. Silver Lake/Los Feliz, Los Angeles. therapy@patriciaolaughlin.com or (323)761-2221.