Mallory Welsh, LCSW

We live in a society where depression is slowly becoming more talked about in general, and an area which has specifically seen improvement is among postpartum mothers. However, rarely does society consider depression among the fathers.

A recent New York Post article titled, “Dads are just as likely as moms to become depressed: study,” explored both the reasons behind fathers who experience depression and possible solutions. They stated that in depression screenings done during 9,500 visits to pediatric clinics, that 4.4% of fathers and 5% of mothers screened positive. That number is astoundingly close, however, many fathers go untreated as they do not attend these doctor’s appointments and don’t seek out help on their own.

This leads me to question if not seeking help has to do with the fact that our society was based upon a patriarchal framework in which “men don’t cry” or should not show emotions. It is unfortunate that some may still believe this to be true, and it is important that we address that depression can affect anyone.

Any new life change can be challenging, but adding an infant to your family can be incredibly challenging. Both the new mother and new father could be experiencing an overwhelming amount of stress. Women could even be facing postpartum depression due to the changes in their hormones. While women are facing the challenges that come with these changes, new fathers could also be facing depression as well, but they are not speaking about it as openly as the new mothers are.

Below are some possible reasons men are not speaking about their feelings related to their depression.

  • The need to be a “man of the house.” Sometimes men may not think they are allowed to show their feelings openly knowing their significant other is also struggling with this new transition.
  • Lack of screening. Women who are pregnant are continuously going to doctor appointments to check on both them and the baby. The men do not have readily accessible resources of medical professionals talking to them.
  • Undiagnosed. Through the lack of fathers attending the doctor’s visits for their children, they could be experiencing depression without even realizing it. Without knowing they have depression, they also may not know that their depression symptoms are treatable through counseling.
  • Lack of acknowledging these feelings. Some dads may be experiencing an overwhelming feeling of irritability, stress, sadness and continue to suppress it. Suppressing these feelings will likely just enhance them.

For dads that may be experiencing depression, below are some helpful ways for them to know it is okay to speak about your depression.

  • Talk to your child’s doctor. For men who struggle with their depression and are unsure where to turn, perhaps consider talking to your child’s doctor as they will likely have some available resources to start the journey of feeling better.
  • You are not alone. Coming to the realization that you are not alone as a dad feeling this depression could also bring some comfort. Both fathers and mothers are statistically very close in how often they feel depressed. It is also important to realize how many individuals in general may not be reporting their depression, which could likely increase the statistics as some may not feel comfortable to be screened.
  • Talk to your support system. If you find that you are uncomfortable talking to your child’s doctor, find someone who you do feel comfortable talking to.
  • Remind yourself that it is okay to feel sad, but it is encouraged to seek help when feeling these depressing feelings.
  • Assess yourself too. If you are feeling more tired, angry, irritable, stressed, and feeling the “blues” several times a week or day, it could be that it is time to reach out to someone. Reminding yourself you do not need to face these feelings without seeking the right help can also provide a sense of comfort.

There can be several reasons a father or mother is feeling depressed to a new life change. There are also several ways to attempt to overcome this depression.

If you too are currently struggling with depression in your life, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled counselors at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact them at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment.