Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Postpartum Depression Hits Fathers, Too but Only a Small Percentage of Depressed Dads Seek Help, Writes Chatham Psychology Professor Anthony Isacco

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Postpartum Depression Hits Fathers, Too but Only a Small Percentage of Depressed Dads Seek Help, Writes Chatham Psychology Professor Anthony Isacco

Article excerpt

There are more than 70 million fathers in the United States. Most will celebrate Father's Day by doing the typical stuff - going to the golf course, pulling on a new pair of socks and spending time with their children and family.

For me and my family, Father's Day is a pretty relaxed day - I try to go for a run, drink a good cup of coffee (black) and have some fun with my four "live-wires," a.k.a. my daughters. The comedian Jim Gaffigan has a great bit about having four kids - to summarize, imagine yourself drowning in the ocean and, instead of a life preserver, someone hands you a baby.

For some fathers, however, it may be difficult to celebrate Father's Day because having children is not always a laughing matter. There are a lot of depressed dads out there.

Statistics are tough to come by, but as many as 10 percent of fathers may experience depression in the postpartum period. Common symptoms include loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, noticeable weight fluctuations and social withdrawal. Fathers may experience atypical signs or a "masked" depression such as anger, irritability, excessive alcohol use and other self-destructive and aggressive behaviors.

I recently conducted a study of 2,000 fathers. I was shocked that only about 3.2 percent had sought counseling in the past year. Studies show that men seek help for depression at far lower rates than women, but only 3.2 percent! I thought that 3.2 percent might accidentally stumble into a counseling office.

Depression and not seeking counseling services seemed to go hand- in-hand. The problem is that the fathers who need help because they are depressed are not receiving it because they are depressed. …

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