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New moms aren't the only ones who can get postpartum depression, it turns out. Researchers say that some dads may also be affected. While for women, postpartum depression is often associated with hormonal changes after childbirth, for new fathers the feelings may be brought on by changes in circumstance: new worries about family finances, lack of free time, and adjustments to their relationship with their spouse. But the resulting unhappiness and confusion can be just as intense.
Who's at risk? New fathers with spouses suffering from postpartum depression have a greater chance of developing similar symptoms because their wives' sadness can be so pervasive, says Bill Watson, MD, a family doctor at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto who treats men with postpartum depression. But there are cases in which the man becomes depressed and the woman does not. After your child's birth, if you notice signs in your husband of significant fatigue, sadness, or diminished interest in activities he used to enjoy, Dr. Watson suggests talking with him about how he's feeling. If you suspect postpartum depression, contact your family physician, who may suggest counseling or prescribe medication.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal magazine, May 2004.