Monday, April 14th, 2014
You may be aware that rates of depression are high in women, and that depression can increase in new moms. But new data, drawn from a powerful longitudinal design, suggest that new dads are vulnerable to depression as well.
How vulnerable? Analyses of over 2 decades of prospective data collected on over 10,000 males in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health suggested that depressive symptoms in dads increase by as much as 68% following the birth of child (and extending out 5 years after). These were “resident” dads, meaning those living with the child.
Depression in dads, like mom, can compromise parenting. Depressed dads are more likely to be angry/hostile with a child, and less engaged in play and talk.
While the study does not go into the factors that predict which men are most likely to become depressed following the birth of a dad, the immediate takeaway is to promote awareness of signs of depression in men, and to encourage early intervention. As the symptoms of depression in men can differ somewhat from the typical signs in women, it’s useful to be aware of key signs of depression in dads.
There are many successful treatments for depression. As depression can be episodic (it can keep coming back over time), intervention is especially important in buffering against future increases in depressive symptoms. So if a new dad (or any dad) is showing potential signs of depression, it is well worth the time to seek out an evaluation and determine if a treatment plan is warranted.
Happy Dad and Baby via Shutterstock.com
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Monday, October 29th, 2012
We all know that depression is very common in women, and that it can have a profound effect on parenting when a mom is affected. But even though depression affects more women than men, this doesn’t mean that it is rare for a man – and hence a dad – to get depressed. And since some of the symptoms can differ by gender, it’s worth knowing some of the signs that men might show that could signal depression.
There is a terrific feature on Yahoo! Health that provides 12 symptoms of depression in men – I strongly suggest that you click here to read it. The list includes fatigue, sleep problems, physical problems, irritability, indecision, difficulty concentrating, anger/hostility, stress, anxiety, substance abuse, sexual dysfunction, and suicidal thoughts. Below I provide a short summary and some comments.
Let’s start with what you won’t find on the list – sadness and crying. This is potentially the biggest gender difference you will find in terms of depression symptoms. Of course, not every woman who is depressed is teary or overtly sad, but it’s very common for this to be the case (especially when a woman is deep into a depressive episode). This does not seem to be the case for men. So it’s important to recognize that a man may be depressed even if he doesn’t appear to be very sad.
Some of the symptoms overlap with those you see in women. Fatigue and sleep problems can be common. Keep in mind that sleep issues can involve either not getting enough sleep, or getting too much sleep. Physical problems (aka somatic symptoms) are also common – including backaches and headaches. These are not imagined – they are truly physical symptoms. You can count sexual dysfunction in here as well.
Cognitive problems – difficulty concentrating, indecision – can also be a red flag, especially if they are observed in conjunction with other symptoms.
Problems with emotional regulation can be telling, but again not so much in terms of sadness – rather they manifest as irritability and anger/hostility. Look for changes in these negative emotions (which may signal the onset of a depressive episode). Men can also experience and report high levels of anxiety. While this is true for women as well, keep in mind that it may not be accompanied by sadness. In addition, as indicated in the Yahoo! Health feature, men may say that they are “stressed” – and sometimes this can be their way of saying “depressed” (perhaps without even knowing it).
Substance abuse can also signal depression in men. While, again, the same may be true in women, it’s important to remember that these kinds of signs in men may be there even without what you might think of as the classic signs of depression. And, of course, any report of suicidal thoughts should be taken seriously.
Every individual is different, so the main thing is to see if some of these symptoms come together at the same time (or close in time) – and if they seem to be getting worse. Remember, depression is an episodic disease, so you will see notable increases in symptoms that happen before the onset of a severe episode. Do keep in mind that each of these symptoms don’t necessarily indicate depression – rather, it’s the combination of a number of them that makes you consider depression.
There are two truisms that apply equally to men and women: depression is a disease, and effective treatments exist. So if you suspect that a man may be suffering from depression based on observing some of these symptoms, it’s important to support evaluation and treatment.
Silhouette Of Depressed Man Via Shutterstock.com
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