June 21, 2022
Health Digest
Kelsie Calderon

Fathers Can Develop Postpartum Depression

A baby’s arrival rocks every parent’s world. From adapting to a completely new routine (that usually includes a lot less sleep) to figuring out their child’s hunger cues, life is never the same after first laying eyes on your little one — and your body isn’t either.

Biologically speaking, the new levels of hormones that rush through a parent’s body change them completely. “As both the new mom and the new dad interact with the new baby, both of their brains change further, adapting as they learn the sound of different cries and what they might mean and the skills required to change a diaper,” neuroscientist Dr. Henry Mahncke said during an exclusive interview with Health Digest.

With a changing body can come a changing mood. Sometimes, this can lead to postpartum depression, which is a lot more common than most mothers may think. “The medical profession now recognizes that postpartum depression can be very real for both mothers and fathers,” Dr. Mahncke told us.

Postpartum depression can develop in fathers, too

It makes sense that mothers’ emotions can be all over the place after having a child with the influx of hormones rushing through their bodies. However, “new fathers can also experience chemical changes that impact mood,” Dr. Henry Mahncke told Health Digest — so how exactly does this happen?

The moment a father holds his child in his arms for the very first time, a hormone called oxytocin is released into the body. Testosterone levels then drop as higher levels of estrogen are created. “These hormones cause changes in brain networks and function, which then promote more caring behaviors from the new dad,” Dr. Mahncke explained.

Much like a mother, these hormonal changes happening in a father’s body make it possible for a man to suffer from postpartum depression. “Some of this may be explained by hormonal shifts and other brain chemical reactions to the change in life circumstances that may drive concerns about sharing with and providing for a new family member,” Dr. Mahncke said.

Postpartum depression can manifest itself as trouble sleeping, sadness, and loss of appetite. Whether you’re a mother or a father, it’s incredibly important to talk to your doctor if you happen to be suffering from any of these symptoms.

As CEO of BrainHQ, Dr. Henry Mahncke’s work specializes in developing digital brain exercises that can help improve brain health. For more information on their evidence-based exercises, visit the BrainHQ website.