In response to an article in the UK’s The Guardian written by Barbara Ellen and titled “‘Postnatally depressed’ dads? Give me a break.” and subtitled “Can’t females have anything just for themselves, without men barging in, not even a foul debilitating condition directly related to the physical act of pregnancy and childbirth?” please see Lauren Hale’s wonderful rebuttal. And another rebuttal I discovered, thanks to Lauren, on the Mind Hacks blog.
I especially love this part from Lauren’s post:
This is not solely a male v. female issue. This is not men attempting to lay claim to “…a foul, debilitating condition directly related to the physical act of pregnancy and childbirth?” This is a family issue, just as it is with a mom. This is a mental health issue. Men, yes, are capable of experiencing depression. It doesn’t make them any less of a man, it doesn’t mean we suddenly have to contend with “male PND.” It means we should be understanding, accepting, and supportive of fathers, a group who is largely forgotten after the birth of a child and is simply assumed to carry on as if his life has not changed.
For The Guardian to allow such an article to be posted is shameful, just as the article writer herself should be ashamed. She is preventing progress in the public awareness and de-stigmatizing of mental health issues. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she was a man-hater. Her words describing her feelings are so vicious, so blatantly against men, you’d think she hated men. Her dragging men through the mud for something that she is clearly biased about and attempting to influence the public to believe in–even though she so clearly and curiously indicates in the research statistics she quotes as evidence that there are indeed a significant percentage of men who get depressed in the first year after their babies are born–isn’t right. Not right at all. The Guardian was foolish to have allowed this to get published at all.
Ms. Ellen just put herself in the shoes of the misinformed, judgmental, and downright mean and self-righteous commenters that I felt compelled to address nearly 2 years ago with this post titled “Fathers and Postpartum Depression.” I’ve said it all before, and really don’t feel like saying it all again. There’s not much more to add to what I said in that post. Fathers can absolutely get postpartum depression too. Semantics, schmemantics.
What do I mean in terms of semantics? Let me explain with this excerpt from my book. I don’t have a lot more to say at this point than this.
People are taking the term postpartum way too literally. Postpartum depression is depression that occurs after a baby is born. It can happen to adoptive parents. It can happen to fathers. Period. Perhaps if we just changed the name of the depression experienced by fathers, so we call it something else, there will be less misunderstanding by the society at large. It seems that, while people may generally agree that men can be depressed by certain biological, sociological, and environmental factors (e.g., sleep deprivation, anxiety, a spouse who has PPD, lack of support) after the birth of a baby, it seems the general population believes the term PPD is reserved for new moms only. After all, men don’t give birth and don’t even have the same hormones that fluctuate so wildly from start to finish.