About the Center
      About the Director

      Myths of Motherhood
Risk Factors
      For Fathers
Impact on the Couple
10 Key Facts
Symptoms of PPD
      Screening for PPD

Postpartum Dads

By David Klinker

By taking appropriate action, and avoiding common mistakes, Dads can play a critical role in the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from PPD. It is often the PPD Dad that is the first to realize that something is wrong with the mom. The PPD Dad must often seek out treatment for the mom, make sure that the treatment plan is followed, and evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment. In addition he must often take on sole responsibility for the family’s safety and well being. All this while dealing with a whole range of obstacle including the stigma of depression, a health care system poorly equipped to deal with PPD, and his own feelings of fear, disappointment, and despair.

In order to deal effectively with PPD, it is helpful for the PPD Dad to view recovery from PPD as a process, not an event. In that process the PPD Dad must take important actions that will change depending on the stage of the recovery. Below are some of the actions PPD Dads can take to aid recovery:

  1. Recognize The Depression. Dads need to be aware of the symptoms of PPD. They must also be aware of the potential dangers to the mom and the baby.
  2. Help the Mom Recognize the Depression. Many moms are unwilling or unable to recognize that they have PPD.
  3. Deal With A Crisis. PPD Dads save lives when they see that things are out of control and call 911, or take their wives to the emergency room.
  4. Create A Treatment Plan. The PPD Dad must often take the lead in developing a treatment plan for the mother, seeking the best care available.
  5. Create A Safe Home. Keeping the children safe is the top priority of the PPD Dad.
  6. Create A Healing Home. Creating a healing environment for the mom involves reducing the level of stress and responsibility that she feels.
  7. Cope and Wait. Sometimes it may seem like dealing with a crisis is easier than dealing with the day to day process of recovery.
  8. Rebuild the Family. After the mom starts feeling like herself again the PPD Dad must pick up the pieces and rebuild the family.

The PPD Dad must also be willing to confront his own shortcomings. Many men actually contribute to the mom’s depression by not being aware of the impact of their actions, or not being sensitive to the needs of the mom. Even the most enlightened and well meaning dad may do things out of frustration and desperation that he later regrets. Some common mistakes men make are:

  1. Making comparisons. Saying things like, “Why can’t you be more like Susan, she has it harder then you and she doesn’t spend her whole day in bed crying”.
  2. Getting angry. The frustration and disappointment that some men feel can change to anger that they take out on their wives.
  3. Distancing. For some men dealing with PPD is just too much for them and they find it easier not to deal with it at all.
  4. Trying to handle everything alone.
  5. Trying to talk her out of the depression. Comments like “all you need to do is …” or “Honey, of course you feel bad, look at how you spend your day just lying around all the time. What you should do is…” aren’t helpful.
  6. Not communicating feelings.
  7. Ignoring the depression.
  8. Not making her health and the well being of the family the number 1 priority.

Men need a lot of help in order to be up to the challenge of dealing with PPD. For many men, actually being responsible for the health and well being of another person is totally new. One of the resources available to assist dads is www.postpartumdads.org. This website was created by dads for dads. It contains first hand accounts of dads dealing with the challenges of PPD. It contains advice and guidance through the PPD recovery process. Most importantly it provides a means for dads to be in contact with other dads who have successfully dealt with PPD.

Postpartumdads.org relies on the generosity of other dads sharing their stories of recovery from PPD. As more and more stories become available the impact of the site broadens and deepens. If you have a story that you would like to share, or know a dad who successfully dealt with PPD, please share your story or encourage others to share. Nothing has more impact on the website visitors then the personal accounts of successful recovery.

David and his wife Denise have successfully dealt with three serious episodes of depression. Each episode has helped to deepen the love and commitment that they have for each other. Denise is an electrical engineer and has made a remarkable recovery from depression and a life threatening illness. Denise is an inspiration to those around her and a wonderful wife and mother. David is a mechanical engineer and started the postpartumdads.org website after finding that there are very few resources to help men deal with PPD. David and Denise live in San Jose, California with their children Michelle and Scott.