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NYT: Postpartum Depression Strikes Fathers, Too

the-new-york-times1Postpartum Depression Strikes Fathers, Too

New York Times, December 7, 2009

When reading this article about how some fathers develop a postpartum-style depression after their child’s birth, I was sympathetic with the Dads who were subjects of the story.  Clearly, they had issues they needed to workout long before they had a child, but it just happened to manifest when the newborn was drawn into the picture.

However, I’m not sure I would be so bold as to call this “Postpartum Depression” for two main reasons.  First, the term “postpartum” implies that there is a loss which acts as the stimulus for the later depression.  For mothers, this ‘loss’ is the baby leaving their womb and the literal disconnection via snipping of the umbilical chord that they experience.  Top that with the tidal wave hormonal shift and you get a tendency for postpartum depression.   The postpartum reference for men in this article is related to the less-tangible loss of youth/bachelorhood/independence and the sudden realization that you are responsible for raising a child.  In my opinion, if you just had a child, you should have probably ditched these notions of youth/bachelorhood/independence much earlier and you really should understand that you have a bigger job in life now – raising your kid.  It’s not like there were warning signs to prepare you – what did you think was coming out of your wife’s stomach?  So from that perspective, I think these guys in the article with depression are idiots, but again, they probably had other issues to begin with.

The second reason I would steer clear of the postpartum analogy for the dad’s “Come to Jesus” moment, is that if you bring this up with your wife, then you’re bound to get a stink eye or worse.  When I mentioned this article to my wife she sighed in disgust and then sarcastically commented, “You guys are trying take postpartum from us now?  What are you kidding?”

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