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April 8, 2009

Cosmo Quick Hit: Male Postpartum Depression?

From the April 2009 issue of Cosmopolitan:

Men can suffer from postpartum depression too. The cause is a mixture of hormonal fluctuations, pressure to be the breadwinner, and a drop in attention from their partner.

Um, sorry no. That's not postpartum depression.

If a man is depressed because his partner is paying less attention to him than usual in order to care for his child... that's not postpartum depression. That's him being fucking spoiled and immature. If a man is depressed because he feels pressure to be the breadwinner, that's an unfortunate societal gender norm that sucks. But it's not postpartum depression. If a man is depressed because of a mixture of hormonal fluctuations, that's legitimate... but last time I checked, he wasn't the one pregnant for 9 months and/or giving birth so, nope, not postpartum depression.

It's normal for a man to feel stress and pressure after a new baby. But calling it postpartum depression trivializes the actual PPD symptoms that women experience.

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Rehctaw said...

I have a serious case of MPPD. The "kids" are 23 and 20 YEARS old and I'm seriously depressed about the fucked up world in which they have to swim.

Does that count?

ceirdwenfc said...

I had it undiagnosed, and while I don't doubt that men get some form of it, I agree. To call it postpartum is not accurate and it does trivialize it. If I have a headache, my husband has a migraine. It's always that way in our house, and that's how this feels - like a one-up-manship.
I still get depressed now and again, and while I know that somehow it stems from the birth of my second child, four and a half years later, it's not post-partum depression, and it certainly isn't in a man.

Anonymous said...

I get the general point you're trying to make, but I'm sorry, this is an instance where you happen to be wrong. The medical community and scientific research DOES recognize male post-partum depression as a LEGITIMATE condition.

Examples (from rudimentary Google search):



I think that ultimately what's important to recognize is that some men are experiencing SOME problem, regardless of what term you choose for it. However, when it's the medical community that gave us the term post-partum depression, we should give equal deference when that same community asserts that the same disease/condition exists in women & men. Arguing over the appropriateness of a term when discussing technical matters like this isn't the same as doing so when discussing non-technical/informal matters. The people not doing the research really do get less say in the matter.

Other than that, keep up the good work!


My main objection is with the medical community labeling this as "postpartum depression", not the claim that men may feel depressed after a new child is born.

To me this is much more of a problem of societal and cultural norms. Men are expected to be the breadwinner; women are expected to tend to all their husband's wants and needs. Both of those expectations suck. If a man feels severe depression because of that, that's unfortunate, but it's depression based on sexism and gender roles, not strictly childbirth.

And let's not forget that men do not go through parturition, so "postpartum" is misleading at best. I don't need to do research to understand that.

I think the medical community and the non-medical community alike need to acknowledge that the stresses and anxiety that come from having a new child are legitimate concerns (for women, men, and adoptive parents as well) that can turn to depression. However, there is a lot of unintentional sexism in the language, that I think hurts women and men alike.