Mamas, we need to talk about new dads + depression, too

The physiological and lifestyle changes that can impact a new mom’s emotions are discussed with more regularity these days—which is a welcome step in the right direction. But the emotional toll doesn’t only affect moms: A new study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior highlights the hormonal issues that put new dads at risk for paternal depression.

“We tend to think of postpartum depression as a mom thing,” says Darby Saxbe, the study’s lead author. “It’s not. It’s a real condition that might be linked to hormones and biology.”

According to the data collected by Saxby’s team, approximately 10 percent of new fathers feel depressed after the baby comes along, which isn’t far behind the 20 percent of moms who report postpartum depression.


And, just like women, men’s hormones come into play: Dads whose testosterone levels drop after welcoming a baby are more likely to fall into that 10 percent suffering from depression. (On the other end of the spectrum, high testosterone levels were linked to greater levels of stress and hostility—emotionally, verbally or physically—toward partners.)

Recognizing new dad depression matters for all of us. The researchers found the link between low testosterone and depression in dads was mediated by relationship satisfaction. In other words, when men with lower testosterone levels had a supportive co-parent, it helped reduce depressive symptoms.

How else can you help if you find your partner displaying symptoms of depression? Here are four suggestions:

Create a safe space for your partner to talk

Erin Barbossa, LMSW, is a psychotherapist who works with clients during the transition to parenthood. She says partners can help work through depression by sharing their own experiences with parenthood—without blaming, shaming or criticizing.

“Keep it focused on your own perspective of the relationship, not making blanket statements or assumptions,” Barbossa suggests. “[Try] saying something like, ‘I'm worried that you don't seem like yourself since the baby came.’ Don't expect him to pour out his heart and agree with you.”

Studies have shown the most effective support for new dads suffering from depression comes from their partner. Researchers suggest encouragement from the mother and active discussion between couples can ease the stress new fathers feel.

Sharing parenting duties helps, too, as dads can become depressed if they feel iced out of the mother-baby bond.

Be supportive of counseling

If you notice your partner is becoming depressed, talk to him about the benefits of counseling and consider going yourself: One risk factor for postnatal depression is having a partner who also suffers, so prioritizing your own mental health can help both of you.

“[People] often think their partner is ‘the problem,’ but starting with an open heart to your own vulnerability can be a huge gift to your partner,” says Barbossa. “You can better understand what you can and can't influence in your relationship with the help of a professional.”

A professional may also help you see what are concerning behaviors, as Barbossa notes the transition to parenthood can escalate abuse patterns in a relationship.

“If your partner is increasing his control over money, your social experiences, who you talk to, or how you parent, this may be a sign that he is triggered in a way that isn't safe for you,” she says. “If these things are happening or you find him blaming or shaming you for how the baby behaves, this may be a sign that you need support regarding the health of the relationship.”

Encourage them to connect with other dads

New moms are often told to find their tribe, but having community support is key for fathers, too. Getting out and meeting other dads can keep new dads from feeling isolated, especially if they’re in a new geographic area or are the first of their friends to become fathers.

Dad-and-baby groups are becoming more and more common, which are great ways for dads to connect while building confidence. Many community centers offer such programs or new dad “bootcamps,” workshops designed to bring fathers together while covering the basics of infant care.

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Accept recommended medical help

Saxby says treating depression in new fathers through hormone supplementation is not a good idea, as low testosterone during the postpartum period may be a natural adaptation to parenthood. Instead, she recommends dad seek out the same supports recommended to moms: Antidepressants may be recommended by a family doctor, and talk therapy, physical fitness and adequate sleep can help, too.

Remember, if your baby’s father does seem distracted and unlike himself, it’s not necessarily a reflection of his love for you or the baby. The transition to parenthood (and the sleep deprivation that comes with it) affects individuals differently.

You may not be feeling the exact same way he does, but chances are you’ve had down moments, so talk about them. By sharing your own vulnerabilities and being open about postpartum depression, you can create an environment where both of you are aware of the other’s struggles—and can support each other along the way.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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