When Dads Get Depressed
When I first came across this WebMD article about depression in fathers, my assumption was that the article referred to yet another impact of post-partum depression. Like a compensatory injury, the hurt of one parent is deflected by overusing the other until that parent, too, hurts.
Depression is a tricky disease. It is elusive and isolating. It is malignant and aggressive. As the sufferer succumbs slowly, the effects multiply and invade with abandon. Having seen depression from both inside the disease and out, I am amazed anyone ever claims victory over it.
When I experienced post-partum depression, part of my recovery was reading and studying the disease. Always the ‘armchair psychologist,’ I believed that understanding my illness was critical to treating it. As such, I’ve formed many an amateur thesis regarding its many manifestations and treatments.
One of these is that post-partum depression goes undiagnosed and untreated in far too many cases. Another is that partners of those suffering from PPD rarely escape unscathed.
The article, however, casually alludes to the recent “mancession” as a significant contributor to depression in fathers. Certainly, job loss is a common contributor to feelings of sadness, lethargy, worthlessness and anger. Bad things happen to good people. Death, divorce, job loss are all listed as causes of depression but in the same breath, depression is described as a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Please don’t misunderstand me – there is not a competition to determine whose depression is more depressing. But feeling bad because your life is beating you up isn’t necessarily a disease; it might just be reality. Sometimes reality bites.
What I find curious is that the article focuses on men in the first year of their children’s life but doesn’t examine or explore how prevalent post-partum is in women, especially those who have had a Cesarean birth. The fact is that it is unknown how many women suffer from PPD. An informal poll among friends reveals a surprising majority. Sadly, depression isn’t a lonely disease. One may feel all alone but the disease itself makes itself familiar to everyone around it.Continued on the next page