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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

Postpartum Depression in Fathers

Postpartum depression is a term which has usually been applied to mothers. And who can wonder at this for, after the birth of her child, the mother’s life irrevocably changes. Her first priority must now be the welfare of her child who is wholly dependent upon her for its continued existence.

But a study which was published in the journal, Pediatrics, revealed that some men also become depressed after the birth of their child. Which is understandable since they may have become sleep deprived from their newborn’s nightly wakefulness or irritated by its crying and need to be continually watched.

Another reaction of parents may be to spank their child, which all mental health experts agree is unhelpful in changing behavior more than briefly. It is particularly harmful to a young child, often resulting in a poorly functioning adult. Forty percent of the fathers in the study who were depressed admitted to spanking their infant as contrasted with thirteen percent of the fathers who weren’t depressed.

More parenting education is certainly needed, and mental health information too since the depression of these fathers isn't from the increased physical demands which their newborn presents but from their not understanding what they are experiencing. They feel conflicted over what they should be doing and give up, or mistakenly conclude they have major emotional problems and "depress" their feelings, Which is why their experience is termed "depression."
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