How Post-Partum Depression Is Diagnosed and What Is Paternal Post-Natal Depression?

Tuesday, May 08, 2018 6:51 AM | Claire (Administrator)
Recently it was International Men’s Day, and many people used it as an opportunity to discuss men’s mental health and mental health awareness on social media. Mental health stigma, especially surrounding men’s mental health is a serious issue as stigma in general often prevents people from seeking much needed treatment.

One topic that seems to be gaining traction is how men experience post-partum depression, known as “paternal post-natal depression”.

Post-partum depression (PPD) is more than “the baby blues” which occurs within a few days of childbirth and does not require treatment. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), post-partum depression is a deeper depression than the baby blues and usually starts within the first month of childbirth but can symptoms can take up to a year to occur and it can develop into chronic depression. It is explained that other than the time of its onset, PPD is really no different than a depressive episode as the symptoms experienced are the same and the same criteria must be met for a diagnosis, with specific thoughts focusing on the baby/motherhood.

The symptoms of depression can be debilitating and interfere with your functional abilities, including your ability to work. A person who experiences long-term depression may require leave from work and may require long-term disability benefits if such benefits are available to them.

Symptoms of post-partum depression can include:
  • Fatigue and sleep disturbance (common depression symptoms, but normal for new mothers and difficult to assess)
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Physical feelings of being “slowed down” or restless, jumpy or on edge
  • Inability to think clearly and diminished concentration worsened by sleep deprivation
  • Depressed mood or depression with anxiety
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Excessive feelings of guilt or worthlessness (exacerbated if feel not bonding with the baby as feelings of extreme joy, love are expected)
  • Anhedonia, which is a loss of interest in things that usually bring pleasure, including the baby

According to this article found on Psych Centralnew mothers or fathers suffering with post-partum depression have to meet the diagnostic criteria of a major depressive episode. The onset of depression can occur before, during or after childbirth for mothers and affect fathers as well. Post-partum depression is diagnosed when the onset of the depressive episode occurs prior to or after the birth of the child.

The criteria for a major depressive episode include the presence of 5 or more of these symptoms that have been present for at least 2 weeks:
  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day by either subject report or observations made by others (e.g. tearfulness)
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all/almost all activities, most of the day, nearly every day
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
  • Diminished ability to think/concentrate or indecisiveness nearly every day
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide

Post-partum depression in mothers is attributed to a change in hormone levels and studies are finding that a drop in testosterone levels is what triggers post-natal depression in new fathers. It is also important to note that it has been found that parents who adopt can also experience post-partum depression, meaning, you don’t have to go through childbirth itself to have this illness.

It is explained that adjusting to the major lifestyle changes affects both parents according to this article from Women’s Health and can trigger anxiety and depression in both mothers and fathers, especially in the first 5 years. Fluctuating hormone levels along with neurochemical changes that happen in your brain due to lifestyle changes (different sleep patterns, eating patterns, increased stress) increase the chances of a depressive episode occurring but environmental factors can play a role too.

For more resources and information on parental leave in Ontario and your rights as an employee, visit our resource page found here.

If you have been denied long-term disability benefits for any reason, you should speak to a lawyer to find out what your rights are.

Our firm handles long-term disability and employment law matters and we offer a free initial consultation with a licensed lawyer that can be arranged at a date and time that is convenient for you.

Our Community

Life With A Baby
LWAB Foundation

Our Partners

Click here to visit this Mount Sinai's website

© 2020 Life with A Baby, Inc. All Rights Reserved.