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Men can suffer from postpartum depression too, and it could hurt their children
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Postpartum depression feelings of sadness that can occur after childbirth isn't just something new mothers experience, but new fathers, too. - photo by Herb Scribner
Postpartum depression feelings of sadness that can occur after childbirth isn't just something new mothers experience, but new fathers, too.

While most mothers experience postpartum depression because of the emotional toll of childbirth, men experience postpartum depression because of the anxiety, sleepless nights and busy lifestyle that fathers take on during the early stages of parenthood, according to researchers at Postpartum Men. These issues make men feel depressed because the joy they felt when their baby was first born is gone.

And children are negatively impacted when fathers experience postpartum depression, according to a new study from Northwestern University. Children of fathers with postpartum depression were more likely to develop bad behaviors like hitting, lying, anxiety and sadness during their early development years, according to the studys press release.

These bad habits develop because depressed fathers make less eye contact with their children and dont spend enough time with them, which makes it difficult for parents to teach their children important life lessons, according to the press release.

Fathers' emotions affect their children, Sheehan Fisher, lead author of the study, said in a press release. New fathers should be screened and treated for postpartum depression, just as we do for mothers.

And even though some research has been done to help fathers who suffer from postpartum depression, there's still questions about what doctors and health officials can do to make things easier for men. Fisher told The Huffington Post that even though the Northwestern study shines a new light on fathers who have postpartum depression, researchers often overlook how postpartum depressions affects men.

This is likely because about 9 to 16 percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression after giving birth to a child, according to the American Psychological Association. And women are more likely to develop postpartum depression than men (about 10 percent of men develop postpartum depression in the first six months after having a new baby), according to a 2010 JAMA Network study.

But, still, more research can be done to help men get the attention they need for mental health issues.

"The fact is that, given that there's often two parents in the home working with the child, both parents' depressive symptoms can have a very similar level of effect to the point that both need to be addressed," Fisher told The Huffington Post.

Fisher told HuffPost that men will get help with postpartum depression when doctors make men feel more comfortable about reaching out to others about their mental health.

"Typically, in our culture, fathers haven't been considered as integral in a child's care," Fisher told HuffPost. "Now that there's been a transition for fathers being more involved, I think that we're just starting to see that we need to focus on both of the parents."

But men are generally less likely to seek help with mental health issues, according to the American Psychological Association. Researchers of the APA found that men often dont seek help because theyre taught by society to be tough, strong and masculine, and therefore shouldnt look for it.

"I don't think that it's biologically determined that men will seek less help than women," University of Missouri professor Glenn Good told the APA. "So if that's true, then it must mean that it's socialization and upbringing: Men learn to seek less help."

Researchers told the APA that men will feel more comfortable approaching doctors about mental health when society doesnt pressure men to act more masculine, and when society doesn't treat mental health issues as taboo.

Men experiencing postpartum depression should seek care from their doctors consistently and understand that the mental health problems theyre going through are normal, researchers told the APA.